It was in Trent, Northern Italy, 1944 that Chiara and her first companions attended the Mass on the Feast of Christ the King. At the end of the Mass she and her friends remained recollected and reflected on a phrase they had just heard from the book of Psalms: “Ask it of me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, and, as your possession, the ends of the earth.” (Ps 2,8). They asked God to help them put this phrase into action by saying to God, ‘You know how to bring about unity. Here we are. Use us.’

For an ideal as vast as unity, Jesus’ request to his Father “May they all be one” (Jn 17, 21), the boundaries could be nothing other than the furthest corners of the earth. Right from the beginning the newly born Movement was farsighted. At that time, no one could have imagined the dream of reaching the ends of the earth would be accomplished so quickly. They had no specific plan or blueprint for spreading the Movement but felt God was guiding them.

Chiara explained what this meant during the XIX National Eucharistic Conference in Pescara 1977“The Movement grew and unfolded in line with the precise plan God had for us. It was always there unseen and then it was revealed little by little… just as a pen does not know what it will write, a brush doesn’t know what it will paint, the chisel what it will sculpt. So it is, when God takes someone by the hand to found his work, that person does not know what they should do. The person is only an instrument for God’s work. So it was in Trent. I had no plan, I knew nothing. The idea for the Opera (the Movement) was in God, the plan was in heaven. It was like that at the start and has been like that during all these years as the Focolare Movement has developed.”

The first group of girls were clearly destined to not to remain a closed group. After a few months of living their Ideal of unity there were about 500 people with them trying to live the same way. It wasn’t long before the Ideal spread outside of Trent. After the Second World War ended, the first focolarine (women) moved to various cities in Italy to study or work where they had many opportunities to share their experiences.

It spread to Rome in 1948 followed by Florence, Milan, Siracuse… In 1956 it spread into Europe, in 1958 South America and in 1961 North America. In 1963 it reached Africa, in 1966 Asia and 1967 Australia.

Today the Movement is present in 182 countries with more than 2 million adherents and people who are support its goals. At the heart of the movement there are more than 140,000 people of all vocations and walks of life.

It includes people from 350 churches and ecclesial communities. People from other world religions including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs embrace the spirituality as well as many who do not adhere to any particular religious faith.

The Movement has been described as a people born from the Gospel.

In 2000 Chiara wrote, “In the beginning we asked with faith. And now, the Movement truly has reached the furthest corners of the earth. In this “new people” all the peoples of the earth are represented.”

 

 

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