Focolarini: living for unity
The focolarini have given the name to the Focolare Movement. They are single men and women who live in separate communities called focolares (hearths), which are at the core of the Movement. They strive to keep alive the “fire” from which the name “focolare” derives.
They put their goods in common. They feel drawn by God, and have given their lives to Him, firmly convinced of His love. They have left father, mother, family, and lands, to contribute to the realization of Jesus’ prayer: “That all be one” (Jn 17:21).
They can be found in the United Nations, beside the sick and the poor on the fringes of the great metropolises and in frontier territories, in skyscrapers and in slums, in villages and capitals. They wish to make Jesus present according to the words of Scripture: “For where two or more gather in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). This experience of unity with God is the force that leads them to build bridges of peace, to enkindle the light of hope in the midst of darkness, to respond with love to violence. Every split, every division is like a magnet for them, because there is where unity is wanting, and it is for this that they have given their lives.
At present the focolarini number 7,160, living in 742 focolare centres in 83 countries.
Focolarini bring to mind something Chiara Lubich once wrote: “This is the great attraction of the modern world: To enter into the highest contemplation while remaining immersed in the crowd. . . I’d go even further: to lose oneself in the crowd in order to imbue everything with divine life. . . made participators in God’s plans for the human race, to mark the crowd with tints of light as you share each neighbour’s shame and hunger, hardship and the brief joys.”
Some men focolarini are ordained to the priesthood at service of the Movement.
There are also married people who, faithful to their state in life, are members of focolares with a radical choice of the Gospel. The first married focolarino was Igino Giordani. When both spouses are focolarini, they form a family focolare, married couples who are ready, when family conditions allow it, to move to other parts of the world where their presence could help contribute to unity.
The life of the focolarini is a demanding one not lacking difficulties or failures, but they see this as their primary way of telling God that in this commitment to unity, He is Everything and they are nothing, and that with Him all things are possible.
Everything began with Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement who described the focolare as a community “in the image of the Family of Nazareth, composed of consecrated and married people in the midst of the world, all of them given totally to God, though in different ways.”