In Canada, one of the biggest countries in the world, distances are measured in flying hours. Vancouver and Toronto are five hours apart, the same as from Rome to Mecca. That’s one reason why the meeting on Sunday March 20 will be remembered for a long time. It was a gathering of representatives of Focolare communities from all over Canada, coming from the great metropolises as well as cities like Whitehorse, in the sparsely populated territories close to the glaciers of Alaska.
That explains the air of excitement at Michael Power High School, where people from the community in West Coast Vancouver were meeting those from Toronto and Montreal in the East for the first time. This was a first for everyone, ever since the movement first came to Canada, and the reason was the presence of Maria Voce the president.
An inspiring parade of what each city had to offer was evidence of the mature fruits of the movement here over several decades, and helped to demonstrate just how rooted it is in this country. It brings people together – something very clear from the afternoon’s musical interludes – from very diverse backgrounds and from many fields of activity.
Many immigrants courageously starting again from scratch have discovered a wider family, the spiritual family of Focolare. At the same time a remarkable solidarity has developed (also through French as a common language) with the distant Caribbean island of Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world. Many social projects on the island are supported by the movement’s communities in Canada.
The central part of the day was the meeting with Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti. Eighty minutes of questions and answers, touching many themes: interfaith dialogue, our relationship with young people, the life of the movement after the founder, the communion of goods. And all of this against a background of a society profoundly influenced by a secular culture.
“Even though the movement was born in a context with a strong religious tradition, it was sent by the Holy Spirit as a response for our times”, copresident Giancarlo Faletti reminded us. “Secularism has made us feel less secure, but that is an invitation to respond to it, to become active heralds of the Gospel, as bearers of something new and revolutionary.”
The mass, celebrated for the third anniversary of Chiara Lubich’s death, and presided by Bishop William McGrattan, was the grand finale for the day. “In this commemoration of Chiara,” Maria Voce reminded everyone, “we are celebrating the steps towards a united world taken here today in Canada.”
from our correspondent Paolo Lòriga