Focolare Movement » People & Places http://www.focolare.org/en Official International Website Sun, 29 Mar 2015 19:46:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Hope in the Kurdistan Region of Iraqhttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/26/la-speranza-a-erbil-nel-kurdistan-iracheno/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/26/la-speranza-a-erbil-nel-kurdistan-iracheno/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 06:00:44 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=121503

20150326-01

“I live in Erbil, northern Iraq, where I began a school for Kurdish children in 2010,” says Malu Villafane, who born in the Philippines. For the past few years I have been working in a local sanctuary, organising activites and projects. Last August, the shrine was turned into a refugee camp. The cities of Sinjar and Mosul, along with adjacent villages like Qaraqush, Aaramlesh, Bartalla and others, had been invaded by ISIS. The inhabitants fled leaving everything behind, and they took refuge in Kurdistan, with us. There was a very heavy atmosphere in the camp, so much pessimism, children lost and abandoned. Together with the people in charge of the centre, we started up some activities for the teenagers and children, which also involved some of my colleagues from school.”

Over the years, how have Christians, Muslims, Yazidis and other ethnic groups coexisted, such as the Kurds, Turkmen, and so on?

“They respected each other, and did everything together. I work with the Kurds, Turkmen, Arabs and other foreigners. During the crisis many Kurds hosted refugees in their own homes. The Kurdistan people don’t condone this massacre.”

When did the refugee crisis begin in Erbil? Where did they settle? What will they do over the next few months?

“The crisis which caused this forced migration already began in June 2014 and worsened at the beginning of August. The people lost everything: home, work, school. Many of them first took refuge in empty buildings, churches and on the streets. When they could, they stayed with relatives in Erbil. Many non-profit organisations, along with the Church, had to respond to the crisis without any time to prepare. They were in need of everything! Working together we were able to collect a lot of basic necessities. During that period, the temperature rose above 50°C, infernally hot. Now, during the winter it is quite cold. There are not enough tents to house the thousands of families. There are camps without food and water for extended periods of time. Yet, after a few months, the children began to smile and play, to experience something outside the camps, like visiting the swimming pool or public park. The parents see their children’s joy, and rediscover hope. They’ve begun to clean the camp, to cook and give a hand.

After living in this dramatic situation with them, my life was turned upside down. My stay in Iraq took on a very deep meaning: I was living for universal brotherhood.

But does it make sense to work for brotherhood? What pushes you to go on working in the camp?

“If I look at the situation from a human point of view, I become discouraged and feel like escaping. But, if I look at it with the eyes of a hope based on faith, I’m able to go beyond all the suffering I see. I think of the words of the Gospel: “When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat; when I was sad, you comforted me. . .” These words give me strength to face the daily difficulties that I encounter in the camp. It’s not easy to describe all the suffering there is; many of them have lost hope, lost everything. This experience has expanded my heart to welcome everyone as a brother, a sister. It has enabled me to come out of my own comfortable little world and serve others. I want to live for universal brotherhood not because it solves problems, but because, one step at a time, it’s like planting a seed. Peace mostly grows from the small things we do for one another each day.”

What can we do from where we are, to be near to these people?

“I think we need to begin by confronting the topic of “disinformation.” Even though the emergency continues, hardly anyone speaks of it. Spread a culture that welcomes and listens, especially amongst the different races and religions of your cities; promote activities and projects that break down the walls. I thank all of you for your help, and may we continue to believe that Peace is possible.”

Source: Umanità Nuova online

 

 

]]>
http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/26/la-speranza-a-erbil-nel-kurdistan-iracheno/feed/ 0
Movements: transition and creative loyaltyhttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/24/movimenti-transizione-e-fedelta-creativa/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/24/movimenti-transizione-e-fedelta-creativa/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 06:00:34 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=121236 150 heads of evangelical movements and free churches, within the multi-faceted reality of the evangelical world, and with representatives of Catholic movements, posed the query: how to remain faithful to one’s own charism in times of great change?

It is the situation of how various movements that arose over the last century can face the situations today and how they can respond to the various challenges facing Christian ideals, and their searching for new answers, adapted to the times we are living in, though remaining faithful to their roots.

At the “Leaders Convention” Gerhard Pross, moderator and one of the more renowned figures of Together for Europe (network of Christian movements that work together for the benefit of the European continent) and who wanted Focolare President, Chiara Lubich, to be present, as the first successor of Chiara Lubich and as the leader of the Movement.

Maria Voce’s reflection helped to understand the difference between the foundation phases and the “charismatic period,” “full of new, dynamic, luminous surprises,” and the phase of maturity, the “period of creative faithfulness” of a movement, in which, to “grow, develop and multiply” with originality, the inspirational ideas and established by the founder. She went on to recount the Focolare’s commitment to live a widespread leading role of those who live the spirituality and share its aims, and above all, to “go out” more in the “various environments of life and society,” without limiting themselves to living and testifying to unity within the movement, but bringing the spirit and experience of unity to the entire world, “so that all may be one” (John 17.21), the specific aim of the Focolare. “We cannot therefore think of ourselves, Maria Voce affirmed, “we have to “go out” and give of ourselves.” To be able to go beyond ourselves, we need to choose Jesus Forsaken who in his abandonment went beyond himself to unite man once again with God, and unity is one of the main points of the spirituality of unity.

There were members of the evangelical Church, Pentecostal and charismatic movements,

each of which are involved in different way or in social works or on the front of evangelisation, education, political commitment. The “Leaders’ Convention” was created in 1974, well before John Paul II launched in 1998 the communion between movements within the Catholic Church This experience of sharing has therefore continued for some years now. A significant moment which all remembered was in 2000, when with Chiara Lubich at Rothenburg a step forward towards reconciliation was made. In fact the long standing misunderstandings that had developed along the years were cleared up during the “historic moment of mutual forgiveness,” Maria Voce recalled, and which became «a founding experience for communion between movements and communities of different Churches, which later came up with the project “Together for Europe.”

A common step which all look to is the Munich 2016 event, when the “Together for Europe” network will meet for a congress and public manifestation, and will be in turn a step towards the 500th anniversary of Luther’s Reform, offering itself as a prophetic sign of a reconciled and united Europe. On her return from Germany on 4 March, Maria Voce participated in the audience with Pope Francis together with the Bishop-Friends of the Focolare, and conveyed to him the greetings of the 150 representatives of the evangelical movements and their hope in the common commitment for unity. “Very well,” Pope Francis said, when he thanked them. «Your work on the ecumenical front is very important».

]]>
http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/24/movimenti-transizione-e-fedelta-creativa/feed/ 0
Congo: a forgotten warhttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/23/congo-una-guerra-dimenticata/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/23/congo-una-guerra-dimenticata/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 06:00:49 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=121331 20150322-01
Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo: a big country with immense natural resources. A population of 72 million with hundreds of ethnic groups. The difficult relationships with the West, the war for the exploitation of minerals, the drama of a forgotten people.

We interviewed the Congolese biologist, Pierre Kabeza, trade union member, a family man who, three years ago, had to leave his city in the Great Lakes region, and who now is at Sophia University Institute.

Why did you have to go on exile, leaving your wife and daughters? Bishop Munxihiwa, bisop of Bukayu who was killed for his battle for justice used to say: «At times there are things we don’t unde stand or see clearly, if not with eyes that have cried.” After his death we were all discouraged but Mons. Kataliko arrived, and decided to follow his footsteps, to speak out in the name of those who have no voice. Kataliko dried the tears of a population which was no longer heeded. On 24 December 1999 he wrote a message denouncing the unjust war, the occupation of Congo by the nearby countries, the exploitation and plunder of mineral resources. This was why they stopped him from doing his pastoral work for 7 months and 20 days. The bells no longer rang. We did sit-in protests every day until he returned to the Diocese. Muslims and Christians of Bukavu, went together to the cathedral where Bishop Kataliko offered mass and forgiveness for those who had made him suffer. He died in Italy a few weeks later.

To continue the work of our bishops defence of the truth, battle for justice and liberty – a new group, the “Dauphin Munzihirwa Kataliko” (DMK) was formed. The initiatives to fulfil these aims irked their enemies. As head of the DMK, I was involved, together with the group in the field of education, to start with the education of children. The teachers in fact, were not paid by the State but financed by the parents. We took the steps to make the Congolese government assume all its responsibility for the country, and I spoke even to the President of the Republic, reminding him of article 43 of our constitution which recognizes the obligation for children to attend elementary school. He listened but sad to say, up to now nothing has changed. Because of my commitments however, I was threatened, arrested and tortured. My house was attached twice and they destroyed everything. This is why I had to leave to save my life.»

A forgotten war, 6 million dead and 2 million women and children escaping from their villages and cities. What else can you recount?

Yes, also Maria Voce, President of the Focolare said that it seems as if the dead in the “lands far from the Western world” are given less value in terms of humanity and “less political importance, thus weighing less on the conscience of the International community. This is the case of Congo. Our dead are of no interest to the international community because we are at the outskirts of the world. And yet, today, war is a common enemy for all. Mandela taught us that “we were born to be brothers.”

In Europe little is said of the war in Congo, and then without saying the whole truth. It is not only an ethnic war. It’s true that we have many problems in Africa, but I wonder: why is the fire lit only in the rich countries where minerals and oil abound? The situation is always fiery in places where we find coltan, gold and diamonds. And where do all these minerals end up? They are used for smartphones, air bags, navigators and so on. It is estimated that for every kilo of coltan extracted in Congo, two children die. Others are obliged to become “children soldiers.” It would important to let our children know that on using a videogame another child in the peripheries of the world loses his life.»

What does this intellectual and human experience at Sophia signify for you? What are your expectations for yourself and for the wellbeing of your country?

«Sophia was one of the gifts I received in Italy, I think it would have been better if I had made this experience before committing myself as a union member because I now understand the importance of fraternity. I think that the failure of our Congolese society lies in the fact that we have forgotten the principle of humanity, a force that unites us all, and excludes no one. Today I understand that the other is part of me, that his problems are my very own. Political commitment should help us understand that we are responsible for one another. We are equal but different and if mankind exploits this wealth, all would benefit. Sophia has taught me also to discern the path of dialogue. True dialogue which makes room for the other, where there is always a part of the truth.»

Video

 

]]>
http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/23/congo-una-guerra-dimenticata/feed/ 0
Hungary: Refugees welcomed after long voyagehttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/20/szeged-ungheria-accoglienza-di-profughi-in-viaggio-da-mesi/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/20/szeged-ungheria-accoglienza-di-profughi-in-viaggio-da-mesi/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 06:00:24 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=121255

https://vimeo.com/121121098

]]>
http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/20/szeged-ungheria-accoglienza-di-profughi-in-viaggio-da-mesi/feed/ 0
From Korea to Mongoliahttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/19/dalla-corea-alla-mongolia/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/19/dalla-corea-alla-mongolia/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 06:00:36 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=120733

Mongolia_chiesa-aIt is more than ten hours by plane from the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator, to Daejeon, South Korea, but both cities belong to a single diocese. Outside the capital, the population density of Mongolia is two inhabitants per square kilometre. Christians comprise 2% of the population in a land with a Buddhist tradition of thousands of years (53%) and widespread atheism (29%).

As the local church was wondering how it would care for the few Christians, it turned to the New Famlies of the Focolare Movement for help, finding that several Korean families were willing to share the Gospel message along with their witness to the spirituality of unity as it is lived in families. The parish of Ulan Bator has a social centre that welcomes children and teenagers for after-school programmes, a community farm and a free clinic. This is where the Focolare carries out its main mission. Let’s see what that mission is.

Two or three couples from Korea travel regularly to Mongolia, to visit parishes and meet with families. The main topic is families and how they apply the Gospel to their daily lives. This has brought about the transformation of couples and families in that land as well. They also meet with young people.

“Once, we brought medicines,” Cedam recounts. The joy of the reverend sister was indescribable when we handed her the package: they were exactly the medicines she had been looking for, since her own had run out. Winter lasts for half the year in Mongolia. For months the temperature reaches -40°C, and so it is quite difficult to leave one’s home in search of the necessities. As the day approaches for our visit to Mongolia, the other families in the community gather provisions that can be taken along. One time we thought of taking footballs and basketballs so that the boys could play on the wide plains, but we needed to buy them and then there was the problem of geting them on the plane. . . One family had placed a money box in its shop to collect funds for the Mongolian families, and so we were able to buy not only balls, but also the equipment for inflating them.”

“The bishop is our driver,” Andrea continues. “He welcomes us at the bishop’s house, drives us to the parishes and encourages us to give with open hands our experiences as Christian families. We find that this is what families are most waiting to hear. The more we visit them, the more affection they express when we go back again. They also want to share how they have been living the Gospel. During one homily, in the presence of several congregations of sisters, the bishop said that we had been sent by God as misionaries and, calling us each by name, he described us as: my friends. Whenver we leave Mongolia, we feel like we are leaving a piece of our hearts behind. Because every time it’s like an experience of what the first Christian communities must have been like.”

 

]]>
http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/19/dalla-corea-alla-mongolia/feed/ 3
Middle East: the force of love against terrorismhttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/18/medio-oriente-la-forza-dellamore-contro-il-terrorismo/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/18/medio-oriente-la-forza-dellamore-contro-il-terrorismo/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 06:00:30 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=121101
20150312_GenLibano2
Lara Abou Moussa and George Zahm

«The two of us from Lebanon are grateful for this opportunity to speak before such a special assembly that wants to share the hopes and problems of the population, to transform them into laws at the service of man.» These were the opening lines of Lara Abou Moussa and George Zahm, who were among the 400 youth present on 12 March in the Italian Chamber of Deputies gathered in memory of Chiara Lubich. Lara is 25, a graduate in biochemistry and employed in a food control agency, and George is 22 and a marketing and advertising student.

«As you all know, the Middle East is living one of the bloodiest pages in the history of humanity. And before so much horror, it is an extraordinary example of people condemned to death because of their refusal to deny their faith, and who pray for their persecutors and forgive them before being massacred to death, as what happened to the 21 Coptic Christians in Libya last February. We feel profoundly called, as Christians and Muslims living in these countries, to revive the greatness of love and pardon, which will one day change the face of the earth.

Many events in Syria have once again confirmed that love overcomes all and even where it seems impossible. This is the case of a Syrian family that lost two of their children of 3 and 9 years of age. While they were playing on the balcony a missile struck them, precisely in a moment in which they were happy to finally play outdoors, during a so-called cease-fire. In face of the drama and suffering of their parents, the love of the Focolare Community who shared this pain, is helping to heal this deep wound and help them find a meaning to their existence.

Another dramatic fact happened to a family who was expecting a baby. The father and his brother had offered to be volunteers to ensure the safety of their neighbourhoods. The armed groups kidnapped them for two months before releasing their dead bodies to their families, in pieces. Once again the love of the Christian community around these families was able to offer some consolation. These families declared that the force of love is helping them to accept this tragic event and slowly overcome their drama.

20150318-02One of our friends who wanted to visit us was stopped at the frontier, and by mistake found himself closed up in the darkness of a prison. Having only the sole weapon of prayer and faith in God, he decided to put his suffering aside, to offer to the other prisoners a smile, a listening ear and some advice and also the little food he had. He wanted to testify to God’s love in this obscure place. Seeing his attitude, surprisingly the other prisoners in turn started to be helpful towards the others. A few days later, he was released from prison.

In various places, especially in Jordan, many go out of their way to share their homes and few belongings with the Iraqi refugee families who we consider as brothers and sisters. We try to share the hunger, humiliation, loss of loved one and enrich ourselves with the treasures concealed behind this suffering. The words of Jesus in the Gospel are a continual reminder: “…I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me water, I was a stranger and you welcomed me to your home, I was naked and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you came to visit me!” With many of our friends we experienced and believe firmly, that violence will not have the last word. If it is able to destroy, it will never cancel man and the force of love that lives in him. Before God, as Chiara Lubich said, an act of love can block the hand of a terrorist.»

]]>
http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/18/medio-oriente-la-forza-dellamore-contro-il-terrorismo/feed/ 0
From Pakistan, after the tragedyhttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/16/dal-pakistan-dopo-la-tragedia/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/16/dal-pakistan-dopo-la-tragedia/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 11:09:36 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=121026 20150316-01«Just after a few hours from the tragic event in Yohannabad (Lahore). We are safe, even if the news is sporadic. » The small community of the Focolare wrote us from Pakistan, to give us some news immediately after the two terrorist attacks against two Christian Churches, the Saint John Catholic Church and the Christ Church, where 15 persons died and many others were wounded. We are in Punjab, where the biggest Christian community of Pakistan lives. The attack of 15 March was the most serious attack against Christians after that 2013 in Peshawar.

«We are praying also for Danish, the child of one of our families who was injured. Hundreds of people who were in the two churches were saved thanks to intervention of the young security guards who sacrificed their lives by blocking the attackers. »

«We pray that this suffering does not degenerate into vengeance,» they said. And «in this umpteenth absurd tragedy, » they ensured that also in this event they wanted to see the face of Jesus on the Cross: «we renew our “yes” to Jesus Forsaken,» they wrote. Rallies are going on throughout the country, the Christian schools in Lahore are closed and three days of mourning was announced.

«We are with you in this tragedy,»,  Maria Voce wrote on behalf of the Focolare Movement «We are praying for the gift of peace and a supplement of merciful love.»

«With great pain, with great pain – Pope Francis said at the Angelus – I have just heard about the terrorist attacks today against two churches in the city of Lahore in Pakistan, that provoked the death and injury of many (…). As I ensure you of my prayers for the victims and their families, I pray the Lord, source of every good, the gift of peace and harmony for that country.»

 

]]>
http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/16/dal-pakistan-dopo-la-tragedia/feed/ 1
From Morocco: Travel Diaryhttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/16/dal-marocco-diario-di-viaggio/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/16/dal-marocco-diario-di-viaggio/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 06:00:46 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=120617 MoroccoThe so-called “Golden Rule” proposed by the Gospel, “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you” (Mt 7.12), is also found in Islam and other religions, and if put at the basis of every relationship generates – as what occurred in these lands – that love which stirs up a fertile “dialogue of life” with every person one meets. It may be a dialogue woven with small gestures, care for the other, respect, and listening. It was due to this concrete love for the other that some Focolare communities were formed in Morocco, and where love and respect have prevailed over differences in culture, traditions and religion.

Here are some excerpts of the travel diary of the two focolarini during their visit to these communities at the end of January and the first days of February 2015.

«Here we are at Fez, an imperial city that is very proud of its highly spiritual tradition. Numerous students from sub-Saharan Africa come here for their secondary studies. They willingly frequent the French parish and the parish priest, Fr. Matteo, asked us to hold a catechesis on the sacraments for about 20 young people. It was an occasion to have a deep and pleasant exchange of ideas. The parish’s Word of life group gathered about 30 students of medicine, chemistry, informatics plus other five who arrived from Rabat. Lucile recounted how she tries to live the world of life in the public hospital where she works. We had dinner at the convent of the little Sisters of Foucauld.

20150316-04We reached Tangiers to meet a group of 15people, Muslims and Christians who live the spirituality of unity. In the evening we stayed at the home of a couple who consider us their blood brothers. He was transferred to a workplace that takes 24 hours to reach, but this distance from his wife became an occasion to rediscover the positive aspects in one another.

We had breakfast at Mohamed’s. His wife wants to deepen her knowledge of the spirituality of unity. He told us that the guard of the building where he works stopped greeting him ever since he refused to bring him the oil of the Spanish landlady, taking advantage of her absence, as he would have wanted. When he later received a litre of oil from his mother, he offered it to the guard, explaining that this time the oil was his own, and could thus do as he wanted with it. The man, a bit surprised, thanked him and excused himself. They had reconciled. We spent the afternoon with the group of families of the community: Ahmed invited us to stay for the night. We passed the evening with his family, and they offered us a typical dish for dinner.

20150316-03A visit to the small periphery school founded by Fawzia. The district is full of children playing in the muddy and chaotic streets. Houses sprout out everywhere like mushrooms. Felice told us about two children who asked to enroll in her school, even if for some time now, a neighbour stationed himself at her school’s entrance to convince the parents to enroll their children elsewhere. After asking him for some explanations about this, Fawzia continued to love and do her work with excellent scholastic results. Six days later, due to the good reputation the school achieved in the area, there were new enrolments!

Journey to Casablanca to visit Susana and the evening with Mohammed and Nadedj in a Japanese restaurant. We talked to them about Loppiano, the recent Mariapolis in Algiers, and the meetings we held. Tomorrow we shall return to Algiers and Italy, respectively, with the joy of having built and strengthened many relationships in unity, enriched by the meeting with these people who have undertaken the commitment to live their daily lives, for a more united world. »

Claude and Ivano (Morocco, January/February 2015)

 

]]>
http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/16/dal-marocco-diario-di-viaggio/feed/ 1
Brazil: Violent neighbourhoods and the power of lovehttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/11/brasile-periferie-violente-e-potenza-dellamore/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/11/brasile-periferie-violente-e-potenza-dellamore/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 06:08:47 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=120183

20150311-01“Yesterday a man was shot 13 times.” This is what the first person who opened the door of his home to several young people who, on the weekend of February 20-22 always presented themselves to him with a smile. We are on the peripheries of Juiz de Fora, a deprived neighbourhood in the State of Minas Gerais (Brazil). After a few hours that same person said to those young people: “Whereas yesterday we experienced terror, today we feel only love.”

Those young people were from the Focolare, Charismatic Renewal, and Shalom Community – parish  youth – a hundred in all. In just over a year they have visited ten cities and met some 5,000 families with whom they shared sorrows and joys, courageously announcing to them that God loves them immeasurably. The people expressed joy for their presence: priests are few and do not manage to reach everyone who is in need.  

“It all began during World Youth Day 2013 and the meeting of millions of young people with the Pope on Copacabana beach,” the Gen from Minas Gerais recount. “During the final Mass, a girl in our group began to feel the central message of World Youth Day quite strongly: “Go out and make disciples of all the peoples.” 

During the return trip to Juiz de Fora, Leticia – that’s the girls name – shared what she had felt with the other Gen and, together they decided that it would be an opportunity to speak with their archbishop, Don Gil Antônio Moreira.

Leticia went to visit him with the encouragement of her friends. The archbishop had already prayed that WYD would not only remain a great memory, but that the intense experience shared by so many young people from around the world might continue in some way.

20150311-02That is how the “Young Continental Missionaries” project began, a name proposed by the archbishop, with the goal of launching young people to reach out to others, to be a living Church that “goes out, together and prepared.” These three words are the three main points of the project: mission, prayer, formation.

“It’s just great to go together, young people from different parishes and Movements, but like brothers and sisters,” Vinicius explains, “respecting each other’s diversity in the way of praying and talking in intimacy with God. Also quite important is the dialogue that is generated with several families from other religions.”

“Going into the homes of the people,” Ana Paula adds, “many open their doors to us and invite us in, and we discover the most beautiful treasures, as when we visited an Evangelical Christian who had lost her husband only a few days earlier. After we were together for a while she said: “I can no longer be sad, because he’s with the Father in Heaven.”

Cristiano concludes: “We go into the peripheries of the city never knowing what we will meet but always trusting in God. We feel Him saying to us today: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Then, especially love those who are most in need, even when we are tired or make mistakes. You can always begin again!”

]]>
http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/11/brasile-periferie-violente-e-potenza-dellamore/feed/ 0
South East Asia: Celebrating Differences and Building Bridgeshttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/10/celebrating-differences-and-building-bridges/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/10/celebrating-differences-and-building-bridges/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 06:00:08 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=120018

21050309-05“The road to a peaceful world is a long one and the choice to take it necessitates the kind of courage that will not falter in the face of suffering, pain and defeat.” This is how Val Fajardo, a young member of the Focolare Movement, expressed her sentiments at the end of the 5-day conference on United for Peace Project 2015 held at Mariapolis Peace, Tagaytay City.

The YSEALI (Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative)* United for Peace project brought together 30 youth-leader representatives from Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia to discuss religious and cultural conflicts in Southeast Asia and share best practices in mitigating conflicts in the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) region. The delegates were varied – fashion bloggers, presidential advisers, teachers, journalists, students, heads of NGOs, and social workers – but all committed to working for peace. During the conference, the group also discussed and explored ways in which intercultural dialogue can serve as a tool to resolve disputes.

“Project for Peace” – The conference covered relevant issues such as Understanding Conflict, The Paradigm of Fraternity, Unity, Reciprocity, The Power of Collective Action, all essential to the peace building effort. The various workshops proved to be effective in bringing to fore the strength, creativity and commitment of each participant. And, compelled with the dire need of peace in the world, the delegates worked intensely on project proposals to address conflict mitigation and resolution that will be implemented simultaneously in their own countries. The peace projects that the three nation delegates have worked on are, “Peace Attack” by Indonesia; “Youth Leaders for Peace Camp” by Thailand; and “Peace for Real” for the Philippine delegations. All the proposed projects are meant to involve countless young people and adults, each as a protagonist for peace!

21050309-04Following the 5-day conference in Tagaytay, three national workshops will take place separately in March in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia involving 150 young leaders.

At the conclusion of the intense conference, a “Peace Park was inaugurated and the delegates planted trees in a public school near the Mariapolis Peace. In the middle of the park sits a “Cube of Peace” where various points in building peace are written on each side of the cube, like Treat each person with respect, Share each other’s joys and hurts, Be the first to reach out to the other, Treat others as you want to be treated.

Present during the inauguration were local civil authorities, school heads, educators and students.

The “Peace Park” represented the vision of youth’s United for Peace Project 2015 which is to be united in celebrating differences, building bridges, and bringing about peace, harmony, and unity in the region and in the world. This historical moment bound the hearts and minds of the delegates as they sung together with the youth of the Focolare and all those present the songs Hopes of Peace and Let’s Bridge.

21050309-02YSEALI gathered young people from different backgrounds, and came out with a solid, efficient and effective project plan to bring peace back to the world. The Focolare Movement has been asked to be a partner in this project until September 2015. A committee – consisting of adult and youth members of the Focolare – was set up in order to design the content of the program and to select suitable resource persons. The Focolare Movement welcomed this opportunity to work with young people and to help them discover that universal brotherhood is the way to resolve conflicts.

Nikko Yumul, a member of the Focolare and one the program’s coordinators states: “Young people are at the stage of life where the attraction of working for something much greater than themselves and the will to pursue it are at its height, and where deep, life-long convictions are moulded in their minds and hearts.”

Some impressions shared by the youth: “Building a united world necessarily entails that we go out, as young people, and relate with those who have a vision of the world the same as ours. We are not alone in our efforts. There are others we can share our goals with. Maybe it is about time we involve ourselves with them.”

Source: New City Press Philippines

* Launched in 2013, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), which is sponsored by the US Embassy, is a program which aims to strengthen youth leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia. This is done through civic engagement, environment and natural resources management, and entrepreneurship and economic development.

 

]]>
http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2015/03/10/celebrating-differences-and-building-bridges/feed/ 0