The Focolare Movement has existed for many years and so has its own history and organisation involving many people.How is this mass of people who make up the Focolare Movement organised? Just as in the human body there is a heart which supports the whole being, the same holds true of the Focolare Movement.
The heart of the Focolare Movement is the people who brought it to birth: the men and women focolarini. Chiara herself defined them, more than once as, “the guardians of the flame of the love of God and their neighbours.” The focolarini live in small single sex communities known as focolares. They have lived out that sentence from the gospel to ‘leave father, mother, children and fields’ in order to follow God, leaving them completely available for the Movement throughout the world. There are also some married people who are part of the focolare communities who are called to a total giving of themselves to God as married people within that community whilst maintaining their commitments and duties as married people.
The Movement is a lay organisation – even the focolarini, although they are consecrated remain immersed in the world and are lay people – there are other people of the Movement who are committed to animate and renew evangelically the structure of society through their witness in family, work, politics. These are known as the men and women volunteers.
Chiara Lubich always held the children and young people of the Movement in the highest regard never hesitating to fully include them in the Ideal of Unity. They responded in a radical way. We call the young people gen.
Since the very start in Trent, Northern Italy, there have been men and women religious from a variety of orders who have made the spirituality of unity their own. The religious who know the Movement belong to both contemplative and active orders. Looking at their orders in the light of Unity has helped them rediscover the beauty of their own founder and as a result of living to bring all to unity have often see a renewal within their own community.
Priests, deacons and seminarians have also made their own the spirituality of the Focolare Movement and in a range of ways have also promoted it to others. Chiara called them ‘men at the service of all’ – as a reference to the Gospel story of the washing of the feet as a model for their ministry.
Since 1977 bishops who have been touched by the spirituality have found ways to build the ‘affective and effective collegiality’ as described in the Second Vatican Council and hoped for by the popes.