An anniversary filled with surprises: greetings from the Pope


An experience of union with God – December 7, 2003 commemorates the beginning of the Focolare Movement in the city of Trent 60 years ago when Chiara Lubich, then in her early twenties, pronounced her “yes forever” to God. On a number of occasions she has said that just the thought that a Movement would then come to life would have spoiled her choice of “God alone”.

Now, after 60 years, she spoke of union with God to the 1500 women focolarine gathered from around the world for their annual meeting at Castelgandolfo from Dec. 5-8. Chiara’s talk was interspersed with moments of personal reflection.
“When there is union with God, you feel wholly imbued with the divine: it is something new, which you see, not with your physical eyes, but with the eyes of your soul. A light enters your mind, the light of the Holy Spirit which is more than the intelligence and uplifts it. Love enters your heart. While before, there was only human love, limited to your relatives and friends, now God’s very own love enters, and expands your heart to embrace the whole world. Together with supernatural life comes a new strength. Your physical strength, too, is upheld by God’s grace.”

The Pope’s greetings for the 60th Anniversary of the Focolare Movement were brought not only by a message to Chiara Lubich read by His Excellency Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, during the meeting at Castelgandolfo. To add to the joy of receiving this message was the unexpected phone call to Chiara the following day (December 7th) from the Holy Father.

Archbishop Rylko, during his visit, spoke of the “precious gift of the charism”. Being a gift of the Holy Spirit, a charism gives rise to continual surprises, he said.
Among the other highlights of the meeting were Chiara’s recollections of December 7, 1943; the testimonies of 5 of her first companions; as well as the “yes forever” pronounced by over 100 women focolarine from all over the world.

During this 60th anniversary it was also announced that the conditions for the building of a Center for Spirituality and Studies in Jerusalem, near the place where – according to tradition – Jesus pronounced the “priestly prayer for unity” were very favorable. This important Center will be in addition to the already existing Focolare centers in Jerusalem and Haifa in the Holy Land, this troubled region where the Movement is committed to help in bringing peace and unity.

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