On 8 August 2023, at the age of 99, Livia Groff (widow of Olivo Goller), a married focolarina from Trent (Italy) and part of the first Focolare community formed around Chiara Lubich, returned to the house of the Father. We remember her through a short extract in which she tells us what true conversion was for her.
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature” (2 Cor 5:17). This is the phrase taken from the New Testament that Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, gave Livia Groff as a motto for life who ended her journey on this earth on 8 August at the age of 99. Born on 25 May 1924, the third of 7 sisters, she began working as a shop assistant in Trent as a young girl. At the invitation of her friend, Doriana Zamboni, one of Chiara Lubich’s first companions, she met Chiara when she was 21 and joined the group of girls around her who took the words of the Gospel literally, put them into practice and shared with each other the effects of living those words. For Livia, this encounter was like a real thunderbolt. Discovering the love of God and discovering Jesus present in every neighbour were to become the polar star of her life and the certain guide on a journey she always shared with her husband, Olivo Goller, and her children, Diego, Maria Elena and Andrea. A witness of great fortitude and closeness to her neighbour, she faced the various trials that life put before her sustained by her faith in God and His love. For 37 years she cared for her husband Olivo who, due to an inexplicable car accident, was left paralysed in his legs and unable to walk for the rest of his life. Another great trial came for her at the age of 61 when her daughter Maria Elena died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 33, in Predazzo, near Trento, where she taught.
With great courage and concreteness Livia always tried to put Jesus at the centre of every relationship, and with extreme kindness she knew how to take care of anyone she met on her path, accompanying her sons, Diego and Andrea, both focolarini, in their life choices; supporting the sick, as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist as she had already done with her husband; inviting many to prayer. A beauty, which many recognised in her, incarnated, which went beyond style, but which concealed within itself a secret: the ability to look at the love of Jesus on the cross who cried out his abandonment, and recognise this in the trials of life and accept it without hesitation.
We share below a short extract of an interview Livia Groff gave in Trent, dated 13 December 2011, in which she tells of her first meeting with Chiara Lubich and the beginning of a journey that changed her life.
Watch the video (activate English subtitles)