From Dec. 26-30, 2023, at the International Mariapolis Center in Castel Gandolfo, Rome, was held the congress “Giving Roots of Joy. The call to be disciples-missionaries and the spirituality of communion.” It was a moment of encounter among seminarians, deacons and young priests that focused on meditation, reflection and sharing with the international participation of some groups connected via internet from Congo, Argentina and Romania. Antonio Carozza, a seminarian from Sulmona, Italy, tells us about it.

How can we become roots of joy? This is the question Pope Francis asked us on the eve of WYD in Portugal, and which he also posed to us in the meeting for seminarians, deacons and young priests held in Castelgandolfo (Rome) from Dec. 26-30, 2023, with the intention of deepening the contribution of the Focolare Movement’s spirituality of communion, to the Church’s synodality and missionary spirit.

I am experiencing for the third year in a row this appointment of the Christmas season and for the third time I was surprised by the beauty of coming together; coming from different places we found each other, met and recognized each other. It is always an exciting experience to reconfirm the beauty of our spirituality centered on unity and fraternity among all, so that it is not just a slogan but an experience, an embodied life experience.

A moment experienced with particular emotion was the meeting with Margaret Karram, President of the Focolare Movement, who wanted to listen to our reactions on the theme she proposed this year, “Called and Sent”; we felt welcomed and listened to in our different experiences. In particular, Margaret shared with us how she felt about the outbreak of violence in the Holy Land. Strong was her invitation to witness to God’s love by making us neighbors through true words that flow from a deep inner life and the authenticity of a life lived because only those who have experienced love can love, only those who have experienced failure and forgiveness can become credible witnesses.

The same love and passion emerged from the words of Jesús Morán, Co-President of the Focolare Movement. We understood how we cannot be fathers if we do not first learn to be sons; Christmas reminds us precisely of this fact, our whole life is called to be Christmas. In fact, Jesús reminded us how in pastoral commitment, to which we are all called in various capacities, we need to give birth to Jesus, and to do this we must first become like Mary. Pastoral work can only be Marian.

Another highlight was the talk by H.E. Bishop Brendan Leahy, Bishop of Limerick in Ireland, who shared with us his experience of participating in the Synod, making us understand how Synod means first of all conversion. In fact, the Synod invites us to pursue a process of conversion made of mutual listening and a renewed listening to the Gospel and the Magisterium of the Church.

A special moment of grace was the participation in the General Audience of Pope Francis, who urged us to be custodians of our hearts. We heard echoed Chiara Lubich’s words, “if the heart is set on God alone, everything else falls.”

With many new insights and with hearts filled with joy, we returned to our parishes and seminaries where, as disciples-missionaries, we are called to make ourselves roots of joy for others every day with the spirit that Chiara herself left us: to “make unity around us, in the environment where we are” in order to be one, to be Jesus, because his love makes us enter deeply into the hearts of others.

Antonio Carozza


1 Comment

  • es estupenda toda esta vida que se comunica. cada realidad nos aporta mucho para ser construir esta Obra Una. nos ilumna el camino para hacernos uno con todos. gracias!!!
    a vivi

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