Up close and in person, it’s always a different story. In fact these young people had often seen Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti on DVD, their tone of voice was familiar, everyone knew how simple and uncomplicated they are. However, they were always president and co-president of one of the world’s biggest Ecclesial movements. The excitement among the 130 Gen (young people closely involved in the Focolare) who came from all over the USA for the event was therefore understandable. But any tension was dissolved once the meeting began. The backdrop: a snow-covered Mariapolis Luminosa, the Focolare’s ‘little town’ two hours north of New York.
“Your spontaneity has put us at ease and we feel really comfortable around you” one girl said to Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti. Despite the fact that it was a first encounter, everyone was on the same wavelength from the word go and a true chord of harmony was struck, so much so that the two special guests said in unison that they imagined the Focolare’s founder Chiara Lubich looking at those young faces with joy.
Two lively hours of music, graphics and a confiding exchange of experiences and questions. Two gentle yet intense hours where the young people brought their guests up to speed with the youth panorama in the USA today – without avoiding the difficulties and challenges facing young people. Amongst the topics discussed were the difficulties in talking to peers about God and the Church; the conditioning impact of high university fees (from 10- 60 thousand dollars a year); political polarisation between democrats and republicans. They were eager to receive feedback, views and guidelines inspired by the Charism of Unity.
“You are Chiara’s children, bursting with her legacy and aware that you’re its bearers for everyone. The more it’s shared, the more it spreads. You are young and strong and people, without knowing it, are waiting to be engaged in a project of world unity”, Maria Voce said to them and continued, “Don’t lose Jesus’ treasure, He lives, He is Risen and True and wants to be amongst you and to walk with you through the streets of your cities to proclaim, heal and console”. In this perspective Giancarlo Faletti underlined the vital link between the Word and the Eucharist: “Jesus is an incredible force and he is close to you in your hopes and expectations”.
The heart of the American dream (‘anyone can do it’) meets one of its highest perspectives in the spiritual mandate just received. A challenging task which inspires and fascinates these ethnically-diverse young people. Aiming to be number 1 is fascinating but it involves many responsibilities, leading a girl from San Antonio to thank Maria Voce with straightforwardness, “for having accepted the presidency”.