On the 7th of August, Benedictines, Trinitarians, Augustinians, Salesians, priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and religious from other ancient and new charisms, gathered from around the world at Mariapolis Faro, which is located in the small Croatian town of Krizevci about an hour from Zagabria. This annual meeting has become a tradition for these representatives of the many other religious men who have grafted the spirituality of unity upon the roots of their founder’s charism.
This year too, Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement, was invited to participate in their meeting, which is being held in an Eastern European country for the first time. She began greeting them by saying: “Chiara’s family is everywhere!”
The Will of God
In her dialogue with the religious, Maria Voce, together with Giancarlo Faletti, touched on several important points for the life of the Movement in the coming year. “Throughout the past year we have considered God-Love and we allowed ourselves to be loved by Him. There was joy, difficulty, unexpected providence – all of them signs of His love for us. In the upcoming year, I feel that He’s challenging us to respond to His love, to see what we can do, and to see where the practice of reciprocity might lead us. Then let us do his will, awakening our thrust to holiness. But not alone: We can only do this in unity. Collective holiness, therefore, the holiness of the entire Work of Mary. Doing the will of God will be our response of love.”
A religious asked Maria Voce how she thought the Church could be helped by us in this difficult moment. She responded with her usual spontaneousness and serenity: “I have the feeling that Our Lady wants to caress the Church, that she wants it to be beautiful, also through us. If the Work of Mary is itself, it contributes like a small daughter to making its mother more beautiful.” Co-president Faletti stressed the fact that difficult moments help to cause things that are nonessential to fall to the side, everything that is not God.
More than in other years, this year’s dialogue highlighted the creativity, initiative, involvement, and needs of individual religious: To be a proactive leaven in the world community, to feel responsible not only of ones own small or large area of activity, but for everything, in order to bring things forward together, to work as a body.
Difficulty and Optimism
There were also some difficult questions, like how the religious should bring the Gospel to the people. Giancarlo Faletti pointed out that: “Even in our own past there were times when we couldn’t hold public manifestations in certain places, or even meet, or even talk about the Gospel. We seemed to be at a complete loss, and yet, it’s precisely then that what is at the core of our life came into evidence: Keeping Jesus in our midst always.” Maria Voce added: “These are not just words or a concept, but a Person, a Companion; it means never having to be alone, to know what to do in every situation, without the risk of becoming an ugly copy of the past. The socio-ecclesial reality of today is different from that of the past, so we can’t go on repeating things from 25 years ago. And since God has something to say to the people of today also through us, we need to bring up to date what our charism tells us for the Church and for the society of today. This is the challenge that lies at the centre of my experience as president.” She concluded by saying: “What a beautiful family Chiara gave us! I can’t help but be optimistic.”
Faro – Beacon
The mass followed, celebrated within the splendid Greek Catholic Cathedral of Krivzevci. Finally, people from the local communities of the Focolare Movement offered a feast for Maria Voce, Giancarlo, the Religious and the Gen (youth members of the Focolare). There was singing, comic sketches, traditional costumes and local delicacies. In her final farewell, Maria Voce underscored mutual love, which had been the premise of all the day’s events: “Mutual love among everyone here at Mariapolis Faro allowed many peoples and languages to form a single harmony today. If each of us, returning home, brings this harmony back to his and her country, then this Mariapolis will truly be a ‘faro’, a ‘beacon’ for many.”
See Photo Gallery for other images of visit to Mariapolis Faro