An Ecumenical Chapel was recently inaugurated at the Fiore Educational Centre in Mixco (Guatemala). The Directors Maresa Ramírez and Luis Martinez told us how the idea came about at the same time as Pentecost, which is when the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated in the southern hemisphere.
“We don’t just focus on one Christian denomination, we look for what unites us within Christianity. That’s why our chapel is ecumenical. We want everyone to feel part of the family of our Educational Centre, we want to include each other.” With these words, Maresa Ramírez explained the objective of the new ecumenical chapel built in the Fiore Educational Centre in Mixco (Guatemala), of which she is General Director and works together with Luis Martinez, who is the Administrative Director.
The Centre has been welcoming children from different Christian denominations for 10 years and following the pandemic, the number has gradually increased. The chapel is part of the school’s educational plan which is based on academic, physical-emotional and spiritual processes. The chapel offers several elements to try to favour a relationship with God, while taking into account the age of the children who attend the school. Luis Martinez told us: “The project of the chapel includes ideas based on play, using games to bring children closer to God and have a relationship with Him. For example, we have installed tubes that run from the entrance of the chapel towards the Cross, so that if a child wishes, they can send a secret message to Jesus. Then, the clouds create the atmosphere of the sky, because we place God in relationship with the sky. The children are the focus and when they enter this place there is immediately a relationship which is both fun and serious at the same time”.
The school offers children this space where they can go when they feel they would like to spend a moment with God. In the area of education in faith and values, the children learn how to do origami, so that they can write their acts of love, and leave them there, offering them to Jesus, “on the basis of what Chiara Lubich taught children: when you do an act of love, think of it like a little parcel and send it to Heaven”.
The occasion of the inauguration was a great example of collaboration, since the dialogue between the Focolare Movement in Guatemala and the Ecumenical Christian Council of Guatemala is extensive. Luis Martinez told us, “We have built a relationship with each of the members, in particular with the Catholic Bishop, Monsignor Valenzuela. When we spoke to him, we realized how important the existence of this chapel is, because in the Guatemalan ecumenical reality, dialogue is really essential”. Apart from these existing contacts based on fraternity, people from 7 Christian Churches came too and about 25 people participated in the inauguration of the chapel.
The inauguration was organized by the Fiore Educational Centre and Monsignor Valenzuela and included psalms, reading of the Word and several prayers of blessing and praise. The pupils said a prayer for peace. The director, Ramírez, concluded, “It was a very good moment. Those who intervened noticed that the children are at the centre of our educational plan and that we are the first school in the country to have an ecumenical chapel“.