Focolare Movement » People & Places Official International Website Thu, 05 Mar 2015 23:14:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 War in Syria: Is it still making news? Thu, 05 Mar 2015 06:00:16 +0000 20150405Siria2
Intensifying our prayers for peace

At the general audience of March 1, 2015, Pope Francis remarked that “Dramatic stories continue to arrive from Syria and Iraq concerning violence, kidnappings and damaging harassment of Christians and other groups. We wish to assure all those who are caught in those situations that we have not forgotten them, but are near to them with our insistent prayers that the intolerable brutality of which they have been victim may soon come to a halt.” The vast crowd that filled St Peter’s Square paused for a moment of deep prayer, as it remembered the two tortured countries of the Middle East.

From Syria they write: “Many surrendered to the idea that the war is a fact of life and that the hundreds of people who die every day no longer make news. The people have reached the limit of endurance and the winter is long and cold, without diesel fuel, electricity and water. The mortar fire continues to sow death in the big cities, while battles continue on the peripheries and in villages. The economy is on the ground and many families are unemployed; and legal outlets from the country are nearly closed. One Syrian bishop said that our people are humiliated and have had their human dignity insulted.”

20150206_161931Despite the evil that is rampant in Syria, the local Focolare community continues to believe “that there can be a better future here. We continue to find strength in living the Gospel, even with courageous witness.” They know they are not alone but belong to a great family around the world that is continuing to pray for them and work for peace. “Although tiredness, after four years of war and the prospect of a dark future for the country weighs on us.”

This was the Aleppo to which the members of the men’s focolare returned on February 23, 2015. They write: “After three months away, we’ve returned to set up our Focolare Centre in Aleppo, together with Sami our married focolarino who lives with his family on the coast. He comes to stay with us once a month. Staying here is a challenge, for we are aware that Jesus in our midst, through mutual love, is the only source of hope and comfort for the local community and the people around us.”


“During our journey,” they conclude, “we stopped for a week in Damascus, at the women’s focolare. They have supported the community in our absence. Then we spent a week in the community of Kfarbo in the middle of the country. There was a lot of joy over our return: now the family is complete! We are all very grateful for the prayers of so many people around the world who are supporting us in this hard trial.”

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Philippines: Social Media for peace Thu, 26 Feb 2015 06:00:10 +0000 Mamasapano2

«The country is undergoing a very difficult period. In fact a police contingent sent to arrest some terrorist suspects, was attacked by the fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and 44 policemen were killed. The Parliament was just deliberating on the new peace treaty between the government and Muslims of Mindanao, with extensive grants in many fields. However, these were blocked and yesterday a video network showed the video of a wounded policeman who was repeatedly beaten to death by a militant of the Front. The indignation of the people was unimaginable!» wrote Carlo and Ding from Manila.

Oscar works instead in the government’s Communications Office which therefore had to report on the event. It was not an easy task for one like him who is daily committed to living the spirituality of unity with everyone. «In my job – he wrote– I have to oversee all that happens in the Social Media. This morning I saw the video of our SAF people (policemen) killed by the Muslim rebels. I was very shocked on seeing a policeman on the ground, wounded but still alive, being hit twice on the head and another gutted out with a sickle in his chest… It was terrible, almost surreal, and I couldn’t breathe. The video also showed the rebels gather the arms and personal effects of the policemen and then continued to shoot. It was so hard to think of peace while I was watching those images. I wanted to react, do something. I was almost in tears.

Then, watching the sessions of Parliament regarding the event. Some tried to blame a general for his imprecise instruction, and others accused other officers for lack of coordination. Once again I thought, how can we talk of peace?

The video on the internet has already been viewed by at least four million people. Part of my work consists in seeing the possible scenarios of a way out. So I ask myself what could be the worst scenario, and I felt fear. I imagine that after seeing those images, many could be overcome by anger and seek revenge. They could see in every Muslim a possible aggressor and turn against him. “And what if a civil revolt is triggered?” I wondered.

In the office, as can be imagined, my colleagues were highly emotive. I tried to listen to what God was saying to me in my heart: “More than ever we have to speak of peace. If those among us who have a better view of the situation feel these sentiments of revenge, how will the more emotive and less informed people react?”

SocialMediaOne of my colleagues suddenly said: “Peace is unpronounceable at this moment. We have to focus on the unity of all the Filipinos, beyond every religious creed. And another said “What happened was an act of violent men who cannot be identified with the entire Muslim community.” Slowly, the anger began to die down. We also remembered what a Mindanao deputy had said: “We are easily angered and influenced by our emotions, because we have not seen with our own eyes the effects a war at our doorstep would have. War is not the answer.” I was pleasantly surprised and left the meeting with a sort of peace inside.

In these times, more than anything else, I think we have to work together to bring the ideal of unity to as many people as possible. The menace of war is real. The menace of our compatriots who are angry with our Muslim brothers is real. But the Gospel shows us the path of dialogue and peace. Tomorrow will be a new day for me, another day of listening to many conversations online. I will have the chance to build relationships based on trust and peace. »


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Chaos in Libya: A Brave Voice Fri, 20 Feb 2015 06:00:05 +0000

«Bishop Giovanni Martinelli is a little giant. A brave person who, despite the serious health problems besetting him for two years now, continues to “doggedly” stay on in his Libya, and with love take care of his sheep, now just a handful of Filipinos working in the hospitals as nurses and who “cannot” leave the country.

He started by saying, “I have nothing special to say – we have become orphans of the ambassador who has left. But I repeat, I have nothing to say; we are here because Jesus wants us here. I am at the service of this population, and not for any kind of power.”

How about the Catholic community? The Christian communities are still here, we are fine.”

Are you serene? “We have just celebrated Mass. God is with us, what should we fear?”

Is also Fr. Sylvester still in Bengasi? “Of course – Bishop Martinelli answered – also he says that we can stay on to be close to the people who are suffering so much.”

What do you forecast for the future? “It is very hard to make a forecast, or rather, it would be better not to since we had forecasted events that did not come about. We live day by day, or rather, moment after moment. The present moment embraces all. In that moment I encounter Jesus, my brothers, and love these people.”

What’s the situation like in Tripoli? “It seems to be quite calm, they haven’t prohibited anything. The atmosphere is serene and pacific. It is not dangerous to move around during the day. Of course we stay home in the evenings.”

Afraid? “For the moment we haven’t been threatened directly. Let’s see how things develop. They may behead us… but I am willing to deliver it on a plate, since I am here to die for my people.”

What role do you think Italy can play in this situation? “Italy has been very involved, especially the Ambassador, to keep the channels for dialogue open between the different tribes and factions. As of now Italy has taken up a propaganda for peace.”

And what about a foreign intervention? “I don’t think this is a solution.”

In 2011, when there were winds of war, you said that if this happened, Libya would risk the explosion of tribal and political divisions. Unfortunately the Europeans seemed to be certain that elective democracy would positively contaminate the country… “Prudence would have been advisable, then and now. International diplomacy should do its part to allow various pieces of Libya to assemble. We shouldn’t impose political visions that do not belong to these people.”

He then concluded: “If one comes here only with arms and without a strong will to dialogue, it would be useless. You have to come here to love the people, not to target the interests of the western world, or exploit the petrol and other resources. One must come only if pushed by the desire to dialogue with the Muslims. I am here for this, and not for anything else.»

Source: New City online


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El Salvador celebrates Romero Sat, 14 Feb 2015 06:00:34 +0000


“A preaching that does not denounce sin is not Gospel preaching,” Bishop Romero stated in one of his talks. His martyrdom, which took place on March 24, 1980 as he celebrated the Eucharist in the chapel of the hospital for terminally ill patients, where he also resided, gave strength to many Salvadoran families who had lost relatives and friends during the civil war which turned ruthless after his death. Still today his witness remains a powerful call to peace, brotherhood and reconciliation.

“The news that Pope Francis had signed the decree recognising the martyrdom in odium fidei (in hatred of the faith) of Bishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero caused much rejoicing among the people. Bishops had the bells rung in all the churches of El Salvador in expression of the great jubilation,” Father Filippo Casabianca writes from the Focolare’s Central American centre. “From when Bergoglio became pope everyone began to hope that, knowing the urgent needs of the poor and the shady schemes of some Latin American dictatorial regimes, the progress of the Cause would be unblocked. Soon there will be the Solemn Opening of the Cause of Beatification, in El Salvador.

What is the backstory of that block? “The missionary work of the Church during that period was traversed by tensions that undulated between genuine faithfulness to the Second Vatican Council’s teaching about a preferential option for the poor and being near to the least, to the temptation of some who felt that it was possible to be associated with movements that had a Marxist imprint. This is what they wanted to accuse Romero of, to the point of silencing his voice.” But, in El Salvador, the Focolare spirituality also has its roots planted in the soil of war horrors. The first focolarinos visited this land in the late 1970s. They came from Colombia until the first Mariapolises of 1982, which were held in Santiago de Maria.

20150214-01“The connecting roads were alternately patrolled by guerrillas and military” continues Filippo, “so you had to find makeshift ways to get around or you would be placed under interrogation that could lead to forced recruitment. “The war had followed the death of Romero and his message was quite alive in everyone.” “The words, the teaching and witness of Bishop Romero,” says Reynaldo, one of the first young people of the Movement in El Salvador, “powerfully resounded in those who had the fortune of discovering the Ideal of unity, particularly that call to opting for the poor. It was a strong call to Christian integrity, causing perplexity in some, embraced by many, at times manipulated. “Bishop Romero’s witness joined to the encounter with the experience of Chiara Lubich and her companions during the Second World War in Trent, made us embrace the charism of unity in a purer manner, and it helped us go against the tide.”

Going against the tide is still a feature of the Focolare Movement in El Salvador because of its social involvement. The rehabilitation of prisoners, for example, within the framework of the local Church’s prison ministry, involves Focolare teams. They visit the infamous Mariona Prison which houses the most dangerous criminal and drug-traffick bosses. They are currently in regular contact with some 180 people serving different sentences, who attend Word of Life meetings in groups of 18 people. In the most recent meeting someone remarked: “I ask forgiveness from my jail mates, because I treated them with violence, but I want to change.”

Other activities focus on social inclusion in a village at risk. The situation turned dangerous and the parish priest advised the Movement’s members to be careful. In another two cities, the Focolare runs kindergartens and after-school programmes oriented towards curbing the school dropout rate, which encourages criminal recruitment.

Following the example of Romero in El Salvador and beyond, there is a desire to be faithful to the Gospel by living for all, especially the small, the poor and the least.


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Zooming in on the Ukraine Thu, 12 Feb 2015 13:00:46 +0000 20150212-aFather Mychayl is a Ukranian Greek Catholic priest from Kiev, who lives the Focolare spirituality. From the pages of Città Nuova magazine he helps us to follow the events that are taking place in his beloved and devastated country. A year after the outbreak of the conflict we asked him to give us his read on what has happened.

“Nearly a year has gone by since the revolt on Maidan Square and up until now there have been 5000 deaths and over a million refugees. The war in Donbass has lasted for months. People are dying, the infrastructure is at the point of collapse, and hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing. Inside the patchwork of territories controlled by Ukrainians and by separatists, chaos of the gangs, the commanders who are at war with one another, the poorly-armed and even more poorly trained military may all have the side effect of becoming a war of everyone against everyone.

According to Father Mychayl this is why now more than ever Ukraine needs an education on peace with everyone actively involved: young and old, teachers and children, parents and children: “A simple but engaging education on peace, based on the connection between theory and practice, values and experience. An education to affirm the culture of Peace, the only one able to respect and respond to everyone’s real and honest questions on the difficult road toward universal brotherhood in Ukraine.”

When asked what steps would be necessary, he said: “Allow me to answer with something Chiara Lubich said in London in 2004: ‘(. . .) it would almost be necessary to propose to all those acting in politics to formulate a pact of brotherhood for their country, which places the good of the country well above any partial interest, be it individual, group, class or party. Because brotherhood offers surprising possibilities: it allows you to hold together and appreciate needs that might otherwise develop into irreconcilable conflict. For example, the experiences of local autonomies could be joined to a sense of common history; awareness of the importance of international bodies and of all the processes that tend to overcome barriers and allow important steps in the direction of unity in the human family.’”

But the Ukraineian crisis has triggered the largest wave of refugees, since the Balkan wars: over 900,000 internally displaced persons. “It is no longer possible to live a normal life in the besieged city of Donetsk. The elderly – second-time witnesses of the horrors of war – are dying for lack of medical care, or have had to leave their homes. Many are not receiving the summer pension. In areas controlled by separatists there is everything in the shops and pharmacies, but no money. Banks and post offices have been shut down.”    

How can houses, roads and bridges be rebuilt, which are not only structural connections, but a means of healing invisible wounds? “It’s not an easy thing. Giving psychological help to the affected populations is less easy than building roads or sending humanitarian aid. For several years now Sophia University Institute in cooperation with Ukraine Iustitia et Pax, have been offering training courses that prepare young people to be contributing citizens for the common good of Ukraine.”    

“After the wave of protests and wars, the country is in need of these “Schools of involvement” that form students in civil and social involvement, rooted in the urban fabric; places where there is experience in political action founded on the values of sharing and nourished on the ideal of ‘universal brotherhood’. Thanks to the Maidan Square protests Ukraine has become a true nation, a people that wishes to build its life upon Christian values. Now it’s a matter of translating those values that were lived out during the protests at the square into the concrete facts in daily life; to take on the expectations and the deepest needs of the country so as not to fall into apathy definitively.”

The schools of involvement do in fact provide interpretative models and operative proposals focused on spreading the culture of peace: “One of Ukraine’s principle challenges is the situation of internal immigrants, their integration in other regions of Ukraine, and the consequences of the hostility. The formation of flexible skills, therefore, to promote intercultural and interreligious dialogue, human rights, mediation, acceptance, mutual respect and reconciliation – these are the objectives we want to place at the centre of the pedagogy of the future.”

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Ukraine: The only just word is peace Thu, 12 Feb 2015 06:00:29 +0000 During the General Audience of February 4, 2015 Pope Francis stated: “Brothers and sisters, when I hear the words “victory” or “defeat” I feel great sorrow, great sadness in my heart. They are not just words; the only just word is “peace”. This is the only just word. I am thinking of you, Ukrainian brothers and sisters …. Think, this is a war among Christians! You all share one baptism! You are fighting with Christians. Think about this scandal. And let us all pray, for prayer is our protest before God in times of war.”

While world diplomacy is mobilised, the facts seem to belie any prospects of peace. Yet there are people and institutions who work with courage to safeguard it, even at the risk of their own lives.

We ask Vera Fediva from the Focolare Movement and resident of Ukraine: How are the ordinary people living through this situation?

“This is a very difficult tiime for our country, filled with frustration and suffering. Nearly 5,000 civilian deaths, very many wounded and disabled, thousands of refugees and, unfortunately, we can’t foresee what the end will be. We often remember how our Movement was begun in the midst of the Second World War when everything crumbled. . . but we never would have imagined that it could happen in the twenty first century, nearly in the very heart of Europe and in such a tranquil country like Ukraine. Our community resides at Mukacevo on the western side of the country where there are no armed clashes. But psychologically it is difficult to hold up, also because many have relatives, friends, neighbours and even children who are fighting. Many have lost loved ones. We’re living in the midst of a situation in which nothing is stable. It’s difficult to plan anything. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. Perhaps a husband or an only son will leave for the war. We can only count on God who is Love. Just as when the Movement began. . . We do feel that it is important in such circumstances not to allow hatred into our heart, so that we can be able to forgive and even to pray for our enemies.”

As the Pope says, prayer is our protest. A year away from the beginning of the conflict, what did you do as a Focolare community and with other Christians so that this “protest” could be felt?

“For several years we have been working in defense of life at all of its stages; this allowed us to build relationships with people from several Christian Churches in our city. We held a few events together like the “March for Life” and “Family Fest”. We were encouraged by the Ecumenagroup from Kosice, Slovak Republic, which follows the spirituality of unity. Last year we organised a large “Prayer for Peace in Ukraine” event in the centre of the city, together with ten different Churches, which was largely attended by the general population. Then we continued to meet, and we shared three great moments of “Prayer for Peace” since the war began. We feel that the unity among us is particularly important now as Christians are fighting and killing one another in a war that is completely senseless. That’s our small and silent response to the Pope’s prayer, to overcome the scandal of the division and make a contribution to peace and reconciliation in our land.”



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Gabon: A family at the service of others Sat, 07 Feb 2015 06:00:41 +0000

20150207-a“The couple, married for 28 years and with four children, three of which remained in Lubumbashi (Congo) for their University studies, had discovered God as Love and had placed Him as their first priority as a couple and this was the spiritual basis of their decision to leave everything to follow Christ’s calling.

For some time now the Movement’s community in Gabon had been asking for a new focolare in Libreville. And this was why in 2011, we were sent as a “focolare-family.”

We decided to place ourselves at the service of the movement, leaving our jobs and moving to a new land. We had never been separated from our children for such a long time. It was not easy but the whole family agreed to our decision. Of course, there were unknown aspects we would have had to face… but we put our trust in God who is Love.

Upon our arrival in Gabon our first and foremost task was to strengthen our mutual love as a couple. And due to this, our love grew stronger and helped us to start anew in loving each other and all those we met along the way.

Here we found a really warm community, and with such helpful and generous people, despite the poverty. We travelled a lot across the country to also meet the farthest communities, and were welcomed with enthusiasm everywhere. In some villages we even found people lined up along the road, waving branches of the trees growing along the road, as a sign of their joy. The Christian families here, as in the rest of Africa, have suffered the setbacks of socio-cultural changes, which called for our positive reaction. We are helping many couples accomplish their journey of faith, and as of today, many have received the sacrament of marriage and others are still preparing to do so.

We have strongly experienced God’s providence, starting from the house for the movement’s activities which was a gift from the Archbishop of Libreville. To refurbish it, each one in the community brought what they could: a bed, mattress, pair of bed sheets, stove, fork, plate… At the same time, all the communities of Gabon went all out to concretely help us with our daily needs. Regularly, they sent us cassava, rice, bananas… often the doorbell would ring and to our surprise, we would find what we needed at our doorstep. Unity, love, and faith in the words of the Gospel helped us to overcome the unending difficulties we encountered: unemployment, illnesses, misunderstandings….

After three years we returned to Lubumbashi. Our children had all grown, also in terms of maturity. Also under this aspect, we saw that the Gospel is true. It was a great joy to see them again and we felt a deep unity with each of them.

When we left once again, they renewed their willingness to “send us out” again on a mission which consists in helping people to meet God, also through our mutual love, the warmth of the family and our unity, and the great desire of the community of Gabon to have a real focolare.”

Jeanne and Augustin Mbwambu

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Cameroon: A school for the “new evangelisation” Thu, 05 Feb 2015 06:00:13 +0000

20150205-aA school of the Gospel: an appointment that takes place every two months and involves the entire village, including the parish priest and the Fon, the royal authority of the place. The subjects? Studies on phrases of the Gospel, from various perspectives mostly in relation to their application to daily life. A phrase is chosen as the motto for the week, up to the next meeting during which, in a spirit of communion, all will share their efforts to put it into practice, to encourage one another to continue the experiment. This experience which started in Fontem – the Focolare town of Cameroon – was an idea of the Fon and was also launched in Akum, another village in Cameroon. Initially, those who attended were mostly women. But as time passed, there was also an increased participation of men, struck (though they did not admit it publicly) by the changes they saw in their wives. Here are some of their stories.

“My name is Suh Nadia,” a girl said, “Some of my schoolmates and I agreed to meet for the world prayer of the youth of the Focolare called Time-out. At first, there were six of us, and then 12. At a certain point, the Headmaster found out about it and called me to his office. I thought that we were out for a punishment since we would interrupt our studies for a few minutes to pray. I tried to be brave and to explain the importance of this moment of prayer. In fact, even if Cameroon is a peaceful place, there are many countries around us beset by war, and we have to pray for them. After listening to me, the Headmaster thanked me and said that he would change the schedule of the lessons so that all the students could join us.”

Then Evangeline speaks up: “While on my way to my aunt’s house, I noticed that the neighbours were maltreating a girl who had gone to sleep in Church to escape. On accompanying her home the parish priest tried to convince her family to treat her well. But the moment the parish priest left, they started to scold her again. She cried so much. I approached her, tried to listen to her with love, and decided to go and speak with her family. Even if my aunt tried to dissuade me from doing so, remembering what the Gospel says, the next day I went just the same. The lady said that the girl was not their daughter, but one who worked for them as a nurse. “Precisely because she helps you,” I said, “you should treat her like a daughter.” The woman did not seem to be paying attention to my words, but her husband was listening: “Who are you?” he asked, “Who sent you?” When he found out that I had gone there on my own initiative, he thanked me and promised that they would not maltreat her any more. Seeing that the girl had almost nothing to wear, I brought her some of my clothes.”

Veronica usually also cooks for her mother-in-law. One day the woman told her that she had a problem with her eyes and could hardly see what she was eating, and that perhaps, it was best she stopped bringing her food. Veronica made an appointment at the hospital and on the evening prior to which, went to sleep in her house. Two sons of the woman live in that city, but they did not show any interest. The doctors decided to operate on her immediately, and so Veronica, despite her job commitments, remained with her in the hospital for a week. On returning home, not even her other sons cared for their mother, so Veronica continued to go to take care of her and bring her food, dismissing the fact that her children would go to visit only when she was there, to take advantage of the food she brought. “It is the fourth time I am participating in these ‘new evangelisation’ meetings,” Veronica concluded. “I am only trying to put into practice what I learn here.”

Only 2000 Cameroon francs remained (circa 3,00 Euros) and I still had to buy some things,” Marie says, referring to the phrase of the Gospel ‘Give and you will be given’. “In order to save I went to the market which was six miles away, with the 700 frs. I still had. On my return I noticed that I had forgotten to buy oil, and decided to do so near the house: my 700 frs were just enough. I was about to cross the street when a girl patted my shoulder: help me to buy some spices, she asked. A voice inside me said: give! So I paid for her spices: 250 frs. With what remained I could only buy half a litre of oil. A man I knew, asked me to buy him some salt: it cost 100 frs. Lastly, a boy approached me and also asked if I could pay for some spices too: another 200 frs. With the money that remained I could no longer buy any oil. When I got home I asked the children to heat the tins to see if any oil still remained, but they were completely empty. So I sent them to the shop dealer to ask if we could have some oil on credit, but he didn’t have any. Not even my next-door neighbour had any. How would I manage to cook for my kids? At that instant, my close friend’s son arrived with a basket on his head. “I’m here,” he said, “because my mother couldn’t come for your mother’s death and now she wanted to send you this basket.” When I opened it, there were some coconuts, dried fish and… five litres of oil!”

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A Buddhist monk who preaches universal brotherhood Fri, 30 Jan 2015 06:00:57 +0000 201501PeppuccioZanghi(C)CSC
Natalia Dallapiccola, Peppuccio Zanghì, Luce Ardente

«When Luce Ardente started to bear witness to the Ideal of unity among the Buddhist monks, Giuseppe Maria Zanghì, or Peppuccio as many called him, and who passed away a few days ago, said that he was “a new St. Paul for Buddhism”.

Knowing how difficult it is for a monk to take part in a Christian and foreign movement, I had doubts about how this affirmation could concretely come about. Now, after precisely 20 years, I must say that those words are coming true.

It all began in 1995, when a Buddhist monk set foot for the very first time in the centre of the Focolare Movement: his name then was, Phramaha Thongrattana Thavorn. He had arrived in Rome to accompany one of his disciples, Somjit, who, for a short period before his marriage, was living an experience of monastery life, in line with tradition of all Buddhist youths. On that occasion, Phramaha Thongrattana Thavorn, translated as ‘fine gold,’ met Chiara Lubich and was very impressed. She was also struck by him, and on his request, gave him a new name: Luce Ardente (Ardent Light).

In all those years of acquaintance I had never noted in him, such a impelling force and enthusiasm as in those days, in announcing universal brotherhood, “mother Chiara’s ideal” (as he still calls her today). Today, while participating in an important ceremony as Luce Ardente’s guest, before the 120 monks and the highest Buddhist authorities of the region, he took the floor to spontaneously but very clearly give a testimonial of his experience with Chiara Lubich and the Focolare, and openly declared that he is a member of Chiara’s huge family diffused in more than 120 counties with millions of members.

Unperturbed, the monks listened: some were amused, others interested, and a few were perplexed as would be expected in any “religious community.” Before, during and after the ceremony Luce Ardente, often breaking the rules, greeted those present one by one, manifesting great respect and affection towards the elderly monks.

20150130LuceArdenteLButoriLuce Ardente continues to repeat even now: “The time has come for me to tell everyone how much good Mother Chiara has done to my life as a monk. I feel that she continues to give me an interior impulse and strength to bring the ideal of brotherhood to all.”

The death of Peppuccio – who did so much for interreligious dialogue – and the opening of the cause for the beatification of Chiara, are strong and important moments not only for us Christians but for all the members of the Movement.

The day after Chiara passed from earthly life to heaven, on 14 March 2008, Luce Ardente remarked: “Chiara no longer pertains only to you Christians, but she and her ideal are now a legacy for all of humanity.” In these really special days, these facts testify that Peppuccio’s words are becoming a reality before our eyes.

While he participated via live streaming in the opening ceremony of the cause for the beatification of Chiara Lubich, Luce Ardente commented: “Now, more than ever, we must testify to the sanctity of Chiara together.”


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From the Philippines: An unforgettable experience! Wed, 21 Jan 2015 06:00:15 +0000 20150121-03The images of the recent trip of the Pope to Sri Lanka, first, and then to the Philippines, after, have circled the globe. His talks, gestures, phrases, were relaunched by many newspapers in numerous languages and by the social networks that have become powerful multipliers of his message of “mercy and compassion”, the central themes chosen by him for this historical trip.

«We made history again – they wrote us from Manila – surpassing the biggest gathering recorded in history in the inforgettable World Youth Day of 1995 with John Paul II. In fact, in the mass in Luneta Park, the almost 7 million present showed once more their faith in and love for the Holy Father».

On the second day, 40,000 participants at the meeting with the families at the Mall of Asia, along Manila Bay. Francis encouraged the Filipino families to “serve as sanctuaries where life is respected” and to proclaim the sacredness of life from birth to death.

«I expected a celebrity – Nidj, a youth of the Focolare said– instead, I saw a “servant”. I felt pure, simple, and authentic love as he spoke. He managed to stay humble and be himself in spite of all the attention directed towards him».

And Loli Funk: «There has been much wisdom like a blinding light with the novelty of the call to live an authentic Christian life but one does not even have to be a Catholic to appreciate his messages: they hit us right into the heart of where it hurts and touches us the most. If we are a family, a community that looks after one another, but each one integrally whole, we have better chances of making it».

Romé Vital: «When Pope Francis spoke to the young people yesterday at the University of Santo Tomas, he urged us to live in reciprocity not only to give and give but also to allow ourselves to receive love from God and from others. This is something new to highlight the value of reciprocity in our Christian life».

And still more, Jan Co Chua: «Reflecting on the events with Pope Francis these days, I feel like the apostles on the road to Emmaus… They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Lk 24,32)».

The most moving part of his trip was the visit to the survivors of the zones struck by typhoons, in Tacloban. «we are still in the euphoria of joy brought to us by the historical visit if our Holy Father Pope Francis», the members of the local community of the Focolare wrote to us.

20150121-01«Francisc is the first Pope to come and visit Tacloban. His visit made us feel the maternal love of God through the Church. We felt understood, consoled, after having suffered so much in the past. We were surprised by his spontaneity in loving: his decision, inspite of the typhoon, to celebrate the mass out in the open with winds that blew strongly. We were touched by his homily, by his humility, when he said that he had no words to say in front of these sufferings and when he asked our forgiveness since he arrived a little bit late …».

The community of the Focolare was fully involved in the preparations: «The local Church entrusted to us the preparation of the venue where the mass would be celebrated: the vast open field that could contain 120 thousand people, In front of this very demanding task we asked the help of adherents, sympathizers, friends, relatives, also coming from the other provinces, and we organized a plan which we had prepared for the past three months».

Von, confessed that for many years now he had not been going to mass: «When I was invited to work for the event, I put all my efforts into it. I found my faith once again and also the family of the Focolare».

Some women Volunteers who were in charge of organizing the places for the people, wrote us: «We could have chosen the best places for us to be able to see the Pope. But we chose the farthest places so as to give way to the others. But in the end we were able to greet the Pope up close just the same!».

20150121-02The young Gen worked in the sector of crowd control: «We tried to make love reign above everything else: giving preference to the elderly, to those who had come from faraway (walking for many kilometers) … We were very moved by the words of the Holy Father. We greeted him up close and he smiled at us. What a great joy we felt at this encounter with him!».

«The visit of Pope Francis – they concluded – was a unique experience: to be there with all the people, working together for 24 hours under the rain, the strong wind and many other discomforts. His words and the experience we lived will never be erased from our heart!».

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