What were your impressions of Argentinean society?
I found myself in a continent where Christianity is very much alive; it’s the cultural root of this population. The Eucharistic celebrations, for example, were well attended and full of young people; Sunday is respected even on a civil level. Argentina is so vast that you could consider it a continent in itself; a young and new continent! There is a certain openness and freedom that facilitate the understanding of the Spirituality of Unity born from Chiara’s charism.
We know that you’ve been often invited to Argentina by the numerous Focolare Communities there…
Yes, that’s true. The Focolare Movement in Argentina is widespread; each vocation within the Work of Mary is well developed and witness is given in various environments. For example in the little town “Mariapolis Lia”- which is in a certain sense the heart of the Movement in the so called ‘Southern Cone’ of America- many young people leave everything for a year to “have an experience”, as they themselves say. They spend a year there to receive formation in a ‘new life’ based on the Gospel. Whilst these young people are predominantly South American, there are also boys and girls from Europe and other parts of the world. The seriousness with which they take on this commitment is extremely admirable.
I visited the whole little town and I met the focolarini men and women, the schools for young people and the local Focolare community. I was struck by the relationships of unity and the harmony among everyone. The stamp of reciprocal love left by Lia Brunet and Vittorio Sabbione- pioneers of the movement in Argentina- is truly visible. Chiara, during her historical visit in 1998, underlined this reciprocal love as a characteristic of the little town.
I can truly say that I experienced the spiritual presence of Our Lady. I spoke about her in a talk I gave to the whole community, describing how she manifested herself in the story of our movement as a model for living the Will of God.
I also visited the “Solidaridad” Enterprise Centre where some businesses inspired by the Economy of Communion can be found. Theses businesses are still small but they are pure and coherent with Gospel values that assure them of a promising future. The ‘hidden associate’- as they themselves call Divine Providence- accompanies them and intervenes faithfully.
You spent Easter in Argentina…!
I spent it at the Mariapolis Centre in Jose C. Paz, near Buenos Aires. They were intense days of deep spirituality spent with the focolarine women. There were about 90 of them including those who are married. At a certain stage the focolarini men and all the members from the local Focolare community came: there were about 400 people in all. When I was with them I felt an inner push to underline how, at the dawn of the movement, along with Chiara, we understood the realities of Jesus in the Midst and Jesus Forsaken.
I was moved by the love and gratitude that they expressed in so many ways and was really touched by the harmony that reigns between them all. Of course this can always improve and grow but I think Chiara from Heaven is happy.