USA http://www.focolare.org/usa OFFICIAL USA WEBSITE Sat, 23 May 2015 18:31:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.1 Run4Unity on the West Coasthttp://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/05/15/run4unity-in-the-west-coast/ http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/05/15/run4unity-in-the-west-coast/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 17:17:39 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/usa/?p=87212 The Teens for Unity on US West Coast joined the worldwide relay race for peace that took place on May 3, 2015.  The Run4Unity is an annual sporting event for teens all over the world who want to express their desire for peace and solidarity for their peers in countries battered by war.

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“Discovering Universal Brotherhood” was the title of this year’s Run4Unity. The Teens from Los Angeles, California, decided to organize a hike through the Hollywood Mountains. The teens invited other youth and families who wanted to join them for the “Hike for Peace.”   Each of the participants were invited to bring a donation for Syrian refugees residing in Jordan.

First thing in the morning, the Teens for Unity explained the history and goals of the Run4Unity project and their desire of doing it as a symbolic step towards peace and unity. During the day they touched base by phone with Teens in other cities having similar events: El Paso, TX; Madera, CA; and, for the first time, Honolulu, HI. It was a wonderful moment to share their experiences and encourage each other in this event for peace.

17153252107_54d573c8cd_zAll these events around the world had a common thread, a moment of prayer called the “Time Out” which is done every day at noon in the different time zones. When the clock ticked to 12:00 sharp!, all the hikers were invited to stop for a minute of silence in which everyone prayed for peace in the world.

Almost 24 hours after the first Run4Unity event started in Wellington, New Zealand, Honolulu was the city in which this worldwide relay finished. In this way, the race around the earth was completed, bringing joy and hope to those in hundreds of places all over the world.

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Baltimore, the day afterhttp://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/05/09/baltimore-the-day-after/ http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/05/09/baltimore-the-day-after/#comments Sat, 09 May 2015 20:49:18 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/usa/?p=87201 20150507-01[1]“The events that came about have stirred up the support of the citizens. Many leaders, religious groups and civil organizations decided to work together to clean the streets and buildings and to help in various ways, revealing the positive side of the city, though deeply offended,» Lucia, Co-Director of the Focolare Movement wrote from Washington.

We all know about the people’s protests triggered in Baltimore last month, which are still ongoing, after the death of the 25-year-old Afro-American Freddie Gray while he was under arrest. Baltimore, the biggest city of Maryland with more than 600,000 inhabitants is a melting pot of ethnic groups, especially Afro-Americans.

Leonie and Jennifer, two volunteers of the Focolare, live in the city centre. “The situation is still very tense, and yesterday the mayor closed the schools and the governor of the state deployed the armed forces. However, all those we know are fine.” Leonie lives close to the place of the clashes and teaches in a primary school of almost all Afro students and where there is great poverty. “On TV I saw one of my third-year elementary students participate in the sacking of buildings and properties.”

“We cannot remain indifferent; we want to do something concrete, though aware that our contribution to establish true relationships between people is urgent, more than ever. Furthermore, every act of love builds new relationships that help foster fraternity between people,” wrote Marilena and Mike. “In the meantime we participate in the various moments of prayer organized by the religious authorities, starting from the Mass that Archbishop Lori will celebrate in our district, to invoke peace.”

“I returned to school today,” Leonie recounts, “and tried to see my students (those who participated in the plunders) with ‘new eyes’.I contacted an Afro-American Muslim teacher who knows two black religious representatives in the school to offer our solidarity, and we agreed to work together.”

Jennifer works in a company where almost all are whites. «A colleague of mine who lives close to the place where violence broke out, came to visit me today, and told me of her suffering in seeing all these events, but did not have the courage to mention it to anyone for fear of being marginalised by her colleagues. It was the occasion to tell her that we can start from ourselves and build a dialogue with all, one at a time, and in this way spread a new mentality. My colleague is not a practicing believer, but her face lit up and she told me that this is precisely what she also wants to do.”

Meanwhile, the leaders of the various religious communities have started to work together for peace.

“I was invited by the Imam Talib of the mosque of Washington, to give my testimony on the the 5th of May as a focolarina and the ideal that inspires us,” Lucia continued. “He wanted me to speak in a meeting open to the public, something they had organized with the District Procurator, to integrate the religious perspective as an essential dimension to subdue the violence. The event was entitled: Heal the Hurt, Heal the Heart. It seemed to be a great possibility for dialogue between religions but also an opportunity to show, more than the clashing, the richness of our society’s ethnic diversities.”

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Mariapolis 2015http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/05/03/mariapolis-2015-2/ http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/05/03/mariapolis-2015-2/#comments Sun, 03 May 2015 21:58:16 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/usa/?p=87186 Indiana, California, Texas - Register today!]]> Indiana, California, Texas - Register today!]]> http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/05/03/mariapolis-2015-2/feed/ 0 Focolare Word of Life – May 2015http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/05/01/focolare-word-of-life-may-2015/ http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/05/01/focolare-word-of-life-may-2015/#comments Fri, 01 May 2015 06:46:27 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/usa/?p=87177
Focolare Word of Life Logo
Focolare Word of Life Logo

With the tenderness of mercy our love can give witness to the reality of God’s love. We experience what we share with others.

When the Lord God appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai he declared his identity as: ‘The Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness’ (Ex 34:6). To indicate the nature of this merciful love, the Hebrew Bible uses a word (raḥămîm) that recalls a mother’s womb, the place where life begins. By making himself known as ‘merciful’, God shows that for each thing he has made he is concerned as a mother is for her child. He cares, is near, protects, looks after his creature. The Bible uses a further term (ḥesed) to express other aspects of this love which is mercy: faithfulness, benevolence, goodness, solidarity.

Mary in her Magnificat too sings of the Almighty’s mercy that is from generation to generation (see Lk 1:50).

Jesus himself spoke to us of God’s love, revealing him as a ‘Father’ close and attentive to our every necessity, keen to pardon, to give all we need: ‘he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous’ (Mt 5:45).

His love is truly ‘rich’ and ‘great’, as is said in the letter to the Ephesians that give us our Word of Life:

‘But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us

even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.’

What Paul says here is almost a cry of joy born of the contemplation of the extraordinary thing God has done for us. We were dead and he revived us, giving us a new life.

The words begin with ‘but’, indicating a contrast with what Paul pointed out earlier. This was the tragic condition of humanity crushed beneath its wrongdoing and sins, prisoner of selfish and wicked desires, under the influence of the powers of evil, in open rebellion against God. In this situation it would have deserved God’s wrath (see Eph 2:1-3). In contrast God, instead of punishing – hence Paul’s utter amazement – gives humanity life again. God does not let himself be governed by wrath, but by mercy and by love.

Jesus had already suggested that God acts like this when he told the parable of the Prodigal Son, the younger brother who was welcomed back by his father with open arms after he had sunk into an inhuman life. It was the same with the parable of the Good Shepherd who goes in search for the lost sheep and puts it on his shoulders to bring it back home. And the same can be seen in the Good Samaritan who cares for the wounds of the man who had fallen into the hands of robbers (see Lk 15:11-32; 3-7; 10:30-37).

God, a merciful father, symbolized in the parables, has not only forgiven us, but he has given us life itself in his son Jesus, that is, given us the fullness of divine life.

And this leads to a hymn of gratitude:

‘But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.’

This Word of Life ought to make us feel the same joy and gratitude as Paul and the first Christian community. To each one of us, too, God shows himself ‘rich in mercy’ and of ‘great love’, ready to forgive and grant trust again. There is no situation of sin, of suffering, of solitude, where he does not make himself present, does not come alongside us to go with us on our way, does not grant us trust, the possibility of rising up and the strength to start again.

At his first ‘Angelus’, on 17 March two years ago, Pope Francis started speaking about the mercy of God, a theme that has become characteristic for him. At that time he said, ‘God’s face is the face of a merciful father who is always patient… he understands us, he waits for us, he does not tire of forgiving us.’ He ended that first brief greeting with the words, ‘He is the loving Father who always pardons, who has that heart of mercy for us all. And let us too learn to be merciful to everyone.’

This points to a practical way to live the Word of Life.

If God for us is rich in mercy and of great love, we too are called to be merciful towards others. If he loves those who are bad, who are his enemies, we too ought to learn how to love those who are not ‘lovable’, even our enemies. Did not Jesus tell us, ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy’ (Mt 5:7)? Did he not ask us to be ‘merciful, just as your Father is merciful’ (Lk 6:36)? Paul too invites his communities, chosen and loved by God, to clothe themselves ‘with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience’ (Col 3:12).

If we have believed in God’s love, we too can love in our turn with that love which makes us draw close to every situation of pain and need, that forgives all things, that protects, that knows how to look after the other person.

Living in this way we will be able to give witness to God’s love and help those we meet discover that also for them God is rich in mercy and of great love.

Fabio Ciardi

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Teens Word of Life | May 2015http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/04/29/teens-word-of-life-may-2015/ http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/04/29/teens-word-of-life-may-2015/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 21:14:59 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/usa/?p=87140 2015-05-wol-teens-featured

« But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.»

(Eph. 2:4-5)

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Children’s Word of Life | May 2015http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/04/28/childrens-word-of-life-may-2015/ http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/04/28/childrens-word-of-life-may-2015/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 20:40:23 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/usa/?p=87133 Children's Word of Life May 2015

« But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. »

(Eph 2:4-5)

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#Run4Unity 2015http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/04/28/run4unity-2015/ http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/04/28/run4unity-2015/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 16:34:18 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/usa/?p=86873

 

On Sunday, 3 May 2015 from 11.00 am to 12.00 noon, boys and girls of different races, cultures and religions will be running together at iconic landmarks in different parts of the planet, as a witness to their commitment for peace and unity.

During the recent months, the Teens for Unity have been involved in the preparation for this event which in previous years attracted the participation of over 100,000 teenagers in various cities around the world. The relay races will cross several symbolic places of peace and unity. A number of well-known people in the field of sport and culture, as well as civil and religious authorities, are expected to be present.

Run4Unity_02The relay race will start off in the Pacific island of Fiji at 11.00 am local time. Then, at the stroke of 12.00 noon, the baton will pass to the next time zone, and subsequently to each time zone in turn. At various locations in different latitudes, sporting events will take place along with actions for solidarity and the presentation of experiences by those working in the local society to alleviate poverty, loneliness and those who are disadvantaged and marginalised.

By following the numerous messages, photos, videos posted on Facebook and YouTube you can get an idea of what’s already in the pipeline in the different countries of the world. On the 3rd of May 3, you can follow the Run4Unity relay event via the website which will be kept to date over the 24 hours, by the young people themselves, with links to the various cities in the five continents.

Discovering Fraternity: a challenge launched by Teens for Unity

Run4Unity_01When we treat the other person as a brother or sister, we raise hopes for peace and the ability to increase the unity of the human family. To this end we are committed to building or reinforcing the “bonds of unity” (WeLink) with each person, to weave a network of peace which can embrace the world, starting with those who are with us in living the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”.

To be protagonists in bring about small or big changes, we need the courage to take initiative ourselves. If you can manage to create activities or gestures that promote PEACE, involving also other people, you can immortalise this moment by taking a photo of your hands and posting it on #run4unity with the name of your hashtag (#4placename) and your comments.

We can start this competition straightaway between all of us. Then on 3rd May we can see which of the Run4Unity participating cities have accomplished the most hashtags for peace.

More information:

Run4Unity (El Paso, TX)
Run4Unity (Houston, TX)
Run4Unity (Dallas, TX)
Run4Unity (St. Louis, MO)
Run4Unity (Los Angeles, CA)
Run4Unity (Chicago, IL)
Run4Unity (Columbus, OH)

Run4Unity (Official Page)

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Maria Voce at the United Nationshttp://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/04/21/maria-voce-at-the-united-nations/ http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/04/21/maria-voce-at-the-united-nations/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 00:06:55 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/usa/?p=87104 Emmaus at the UNToday marks the beginning of the debate of the United Nations: “Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation: Fostering peaceful, Inclusive Societies and Countering Violent Extremism”. Among the religious leaders invited to give their contribution is Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement. We asked her three questions before she entered the headquarters of the UN.

How do you feel before participating in this high level debate with representatives of 193 nations?

«I am quite at peace. What is often missing in these organizations is precisely the witness of what is already happening to bring about peace. My impression is that people often feel isolated and they need to be aware that someone else is out there with them, working for the same aims as they are. With such a great ideal as the one Chiara Lubich has given us, we do not work only for reconciliation or only for social justice but these are steps on the way towards unity».

If we look at the world today some might think that religions are the bearers more of division than of peace…

«Certainly religions are not supporters of war, none of them. The word religion means bond, it’s a bond between people, how can a religion make war? War is born in the hearts of people and people, whatever religion they belong to can be good or wicked. Instead religion is often exploited under the pretext of justifying a motivation that is anything but religious and is in fact inhuman, the desire for power, overthrowing the weak, selling one’s own merchandise including arms. The root of war certainly doesn’t lie in religion but in other motivations which are basically always egoistic».

Emmaus at the UNWhen we look at today’s conflicts, for example in the Middle East or in Nigeria, are you still optimistic that peace is possible?

«I cannot help being an optimist because Jesus is peace. And since we follow Jesus we have to believe that peace is possible. It is true that Jesus said ‘I have come to bring the sword’ which means we have to take a stand too. I think that religions can help to reawaken the conscience of humanity: peace isn’t just one good among many but without peace all the other goods are useless. We can work for peace if we do it all together, both the rich and the poor, those who have power and those who do not, people who are religious as well as those who do not identify themselves with any religion. We have to commit ourselves to building these relationships of peace in the whole human family where we are all equal and therefore we should all witness to this equality».

The initiative for this high level debate at the United Nations in New York came from the President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and the High Representative of the Alliance of Civilizations Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser. Today’s topic is Strategies for fostering inclusive societies. Tomorrow, leaders representing various religions will be invited to give their witness to the role played by religions in building bridges of tolerance and reconciliation.

Susanne Janssen, New York

You can follow parts of the program on live streaming of the United Nations’s TV at http://webtv.un.org/live/

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High-level debate at the UN on promoting tolerance and reconciliation as means of countering violent extremismhttp://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/04/20/high-level-debate-at-the-un-on-promoting-tolerance-and-reconciliation-as-means-of-countering-violent-extremism/ http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/04/20/high-level-debate-at-the-un-on-promoting-tolerance-and-reconciliation-as-means-of-countering-violent-extremism/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 01:33:04 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/usa/?p=87080 United Nations Center in New YorkOn April 21-22, 2015, the UN General Assembly will hold a high-level thematic debate on “Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation: Fostering Peaceful, Inclusive Societies and Countering Violent Extremism.”

The debate, to take place at the iconic United Nations Headquarters in New York, is an initiative of the current President of the General Assembly, Sam K. Kutesa; Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon; and UN High-Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Nassir Abudlaziz Al-Nasser. The event will be an opportunity for the 193 Member States and diverse stakeholders, including faith leaders, to address key issues and challenges relating to the promotion of tolerance and reconciliation and share concrete experiences on how to counter the forces that fuel polarization and radicalization. Focolare president Maria Voce will be among them.

Press release

Programme outline

Concept note

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Thank you Cardinal George!http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/04/18/thank-you-cardinal-george/ http://www.focolare.org/usa/news/2015/04/18/thank-you-cardinal-george/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 14:07:24 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/usa/?p=87031 Cardinal George with Focolare Members at the Meeting of the Movements in 2008
Cardinal George with Focolare Members at the Meeting of the Movements in 2008

The Focolare Movement mourns the loss of Francis Cardinal George. We are very grateful to God for his leadership and vision. He was a man of great intelligence and a keen sense of humor and, above all, a true friend. He understood the role of the laity in the Church, and in particular of the Ecclesial Movements. An untiring worker for unity and reconciliation, he followed the example of the last Popes in putting together all the members of the Movements and faithfully kept his annual appointment with us, making the Movements and new communities a vibrant part of the Archdiocese. He wanted the Archdiocese to be a living community of faith.

Cardinal George with Imam W.D. Mohammed at their meeting in 2005
Cardinal George with Imam W.D. Mohammed at their meeting in 2005

His passion for interreligious and cultural dialogue built many bridges and opened new paths for the faithful in Chicago. He will be greatly missed. We know now we have a great intercessor in heaven.

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