A brief history
After the Second Vatican Council, when there was a crisis of vocations to the priesthood, Chiara Lubich felt the urge to take particular care of the seminarians from various nations in touch with the Focolare Movement.
At Easter 1968, in the Mariapolis Centre in Rocca di Papa, Italy, 70 of them had their first meeting. ‘It would be wonderful,’ Chiara said, ‘if the Lord were to raise up a host of seminarians who, with the spirit of unity, would not only protect their own vocations, but during their time in seminary could also give rise to a current of unity that would attract many other young people.’
This was the birth of a new expression of the Focolare Movement, one that reached out to young people called to the priesthood: the Gens. After that an increasing number of seminarians made the Movement’s spirituality of communion their own.
They remain united with their formators and fully part of the life of their seminaries. They find in the Ideal of unity the key to responding to their calling with joy and enthusiasm. Communion with other people in the Movement, who have the widest range of vocations, gives them a deeper understanding of their role within the ‘communion of the Church’.
In particular the spirituality of unity helps them make God the core choice in their lives, before and more important than priesthood. This leads them to live the Word of God intensely which helps them to proclaim it as credible witnesses; to conform their lives to Jesus crucified and forsaken as the pattern of the priest; to be builders of unity in the seminary and in the diocese; and to be open to all as they put into practice of the art of loving that emerges from the Gospel.
On 29 November 1994 Pope John Paul II said to a meeting of the Gens, ‘It is good that you are here in Castel Gandolfo, because “focolare” means something extremely simple and extremely deep. It says that there is a “togetherness”. So, the vocation of the seminarian is not a solitary vocation, like a hermit’s, but it is a vocation to live together with others: to live for the others, in a wider family. And I think that Focolare spirituality will prepare you very well for this vocation.’
The Gens 3 Movement
Seminarians in middle and in secondary schools, and other young people exploring the priestly vocation, also found that this way of living a light for their own lives. In 1980, therefore, the Gens3 Movement came into being. This was the third generation of the Priest’s Movement.
The Gens Movement has engaged in initiatives to foster a communitarian and family-like way of living in seminaries. They meet in small groups wherever they are to share what they have experienced and they hold regional meetings, work camps, holidays, study courses, and so on.
At a world level they periodically hold international congresses and they share news and exchange experiences by means of their church-focused magazine, called Gen’s in Italian and Being One in English, which comes in both printed and online form.
For further information:
Gens International Centre
Via della Pedica, 28
00046 Grottaferrata (Rome) – Italy