Mariapolis. It is the same everywhere: Experiencing for a few days – through moments of  meditation, hearing life testimonies, and recreational activities – what it means to build bridges of dialogue and brotherhood between persons of different nations.

The Mariapolis, which is the most characteristic event of the Focolare Movement, began spontaneously in the Trent Alps (Italy) as a holiday period of rest spent together. Then, over the years, Mariapolises began to spread and be held everywhere, gathering together people of all ages, social, cultural, and religious backgrounds. The Mariapolis has been called a “family gathering” and a “laboratory of fraternity” in which you experience that it is possible to live in a reconciled world.

“Love unites” is the slogan chosen for this year’s Mariapolis which will be held from the 26th to the 31st of July in Bamenda, Cameroon. “A year has already passed since our great Mariapolis,” is written on the invitation, “And this year we are expecting even more!”

Ivory Coast. 30 July – 4 August in Man City. Man City is situated in occupied territory, but even amid difficulty, this Mariapolis stands as a prophetic sign of the much desired ri-unification of the country.

Sierra Leone. 4 – 8 August. Those responsible for the local focolares write: “We feelthe certainty very much alive in the hearts of the Sierra Leonians, that the Ideal of unity is the medicine for the deep wounds that have been left by the war.”

The Republic of Mali, A land unique for the harmonious relationship between Muslims (the overwhelming majority) and Christians, which is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of its independence. It is in the context that everyone, in both religious and civil society, looks forward to the Mariapolis, precisely to reinforce the value of unity. The Mariapolis will take place between the 8th and 13th of August 2010.

In Benin the Mariapolis is planned to take place between the 24th and 29th of August in  Ouidah, an important historical and cultural center. This country is also celebrating the 50th Anniversary of its independence. 

In Madagascar the Mariapolis will take place from the 3rd to the 6th of September in Antananarivo, the capital of the country.  “Since last year,” the members from the Focolare in Madagascar write, “the country has been going through political crisis with public protests in which the armed forces were involved. At times, there was much violence and some lost their lives. Still today the situation has not been resolved and we live in constant uncertainty, tension, and fear. But all of this this has also led people to help each other more, love for neighbour, and solidarity within communities. Last year the Mariapolis was held here at Ambatondrazaka, but many from the capital were not able to travel. Seeing their painful situation, but also their desire to be with us at the Mariapolis, we decided to go toward them and everyone is involved in prepararing.”

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