The Focolare Movement in Oceania
In 1967, Rita Muccio, an Italian focolarina, moved from New York to Melbourne for work reasons: in this way the Focolare silently started its development in Australia. A few months later the first women’s focolare centre was opened, and later, in May 1974 the first men’s centre
The Ideal of unity penetrated among families, priests, and associations. Straight away the focolarini began travelling in order to meet the people who had had some contact with the charism of unity: already in 1969 they went to New Zealand where the focolare was later opened in 1981 with the support of Cardinal Thomas Williams; in 1973 to Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra; in 1974 to Tasmania; in 1976 to Wallis and Futuna, two small islands of the Polynesian Archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Perth, on the western Australian coast, is the second city where the focolare centre was opened in 1979. The families were the first ones to answer the call to unity: even if the closest Mariapolis was held more than 4000km away, near Melbourne, they did not hesitate to embark on a three day and three night journey across the Great Nullarbor Plain.
A Marist missionary, Sr Anna Scarpone, who had known the Focolare in her native Italy, brought the spirituality among the children of the school where she was teaching in the Island of Futuna. In a few years, many people were living mutual love, and for the first time in January 1976 a small group from Wallis and Futuna participated in the Mariapolis in Australia. The Ideal of unity seemed to have really reached the ends of the earth! In 1992 the focolare centre was opened in Noumea, in order to follow all the members of the Focolare, who were now spread all over the French speaking Pacific Islands, more closely. The focolare centre remained there until December 2008; however, the community in Noumea continues to live for the unity of everyone.
In the Fiji Islands, it was an Irish priest who talked of the Focolare to a group of young men and women of his parish: the charism of unity spread also in Fiji, and many felt the call to follow God either as priests, or in the religious life, or being witnesses of unity in their own families and workplaces.
The Focolare in New Zealand started with two young men who invited the women focolarine for the first time to visit their land in October 1969. They travelled from Auckland in the north to Christchurch in the south, meeting many people even if they had only five addresses with them. In May 1981 the women’s focolare centre opened in Wellington and in 2001 the men’s centre.
29 January – 4 February 1982: key dates for the Movement in Oceania. Chiara Lubich visited Melbourne and held meetings with members of the Movement who came from all over Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. These were days of “foundation” for the Focolare in Oceania. Chiara invited everyone to live for unity by loving one another. In the structure of Australian society, which is young and of various ethnic origins, of different religions and cultures, she perceives a fertile soil, prepared to welcome the Gospel message of universal brotherhood.
Events Calendar 2011
After 11 years during which the Mariapolis was held in various cities of Australia and New Zealand, this year the Mariapolis will see people of the different communities of Oceania come together in one meeting from 11 to 16 April 2011: from New Zealand to the Fiji Islands, from Perth to the islands of Wallis and Futuna, from New Caledonia to Brisbane. The Mariapolis will be an expression of the multicultural reality of Oceania: different ethnic groups united as one family. We are looking forward to seeing you in April at Phillip Island (VIC)!