“Islam is a challenge for the Church. What contacts does the Movement have with muslims?”, asked Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, archbishop of Montreal. “From which authors did your founder draw inspiration for the spirituality of communion?”, asked Mons Paul-André Durocher, bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall, a diocese on the border of Ontario and Quebec. These were two questions that began a lively conversation.
At the well-appointed Centre International in rue Grenet, in snowy Montreal, seven Canadian bishops met Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti. The chosen theme was the spirituality of communion, a fundamental aspect of Chiara Lubich’s charism.
Maria Voce was introduced by Mons Luc Cyr, Bishop of Valleyfield, and she outlined key features of Focolare’s spirituality, emphasising that it is “a mature fruit of the charism of unity”, based on several important ideas: the discovery of God as Love,its initial spark; love for one’s brother or sister to the point of giving one’s life, its humus; mutual love, the heart of the Gospel, the principal commandment of the spirituality of communion; unity, something to be strived for always and everywhere; Jesus Forsaken, the model to be imitated in building up the one human family.
And the questions – on secularisation, on the younger generations – quickly followed. They provided an opportunity to hear about the fruits of the spirituality. Giancarlo Faletti, co president of the Focolare Movement, gave several examples, and spoke of the Year for Priests and about Maria Voce’s recent journey to the Holy Land. Testimonies included that of a local parish priest, a married couple, a teen girl, and the director of an Economy of Communion business. The influence of the spirituality of communion in each of these was loud and clear.
“An attitude of reciprocal welcome and humble acceptance enabled a deep encounter of communion between institution and charism to take place. The joy on the faces of those present underlined how successful this was”, Maria Voce commented later. On the previous day, before leaving Toronto, the Focolare president had paid a visit to Archbishop Thomas Collins. The archbishop repeatedly underlined the valuable contribution that the Movement is making to his very cosmopolitan diocese.
From the capital of Ontario (mainly English speaking) to Montreal, Quebec (French speaking) was a journey north westwards of 540 kilometers, on a motorway that passed through mist shrouded forests. In Montreal the mist had gone, and it began to snow just as Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti arrived. A better welcome could not have been organised.