Maria Voce, president of the Focolare Movement, and co-president Giancarlo Faletti were welcomed by an unseasonably warm climate at their arrival from Moscow. And they arrived half an hour early, shortening the waiting time for the thirty people who were at the airport to receive them with applause.
Their itinerary would be intense. It included meetings with representatives of the local Church, the archbishop of Prague, Archbishop Dominik Duka, as well as with priests who live the spirituality of communion. There was much expectation among the youths who planned a day meeting at the Mariapolis Centre in Vinoř, and among the entire Focolare community all over the country, which would converge in large numbers on Prague. An open meeting was planned to remember the 10th anniversary of the visit of Chiara Lubich to the Czech Republic and the launching of “Golden Prague”, promoted by Chiara herself on that occasion for the implementation of the “new evangelization”.
Maria Voce and the small group from Rome were offered hospitality at the small Mariapolis Centre, which was begin over two years, in the heart of the Focolare town which is under construction. “In 2001, when Chiara Lubich came to Prague,” some of the pioneers tell us, “she expressed a twofold desire: to provide a house for the family of the Movement and to have a place where people she had met – members of the political and ecclesial world – could meet.” Said and done, with much entusiasm and many initiatives, the latest being the “first Saturday projects”, which continue until now. Gradually the Mariapolis Centre has taken form and also the little town which is still under construction. Every first Saturday of the month people are invited to come and help in the work, brick by brick, to build a place that is bcoming a centre for the spreading of the spirituality of unity. Ten families have already built their own houses and moved in, others are planning to do the same.
Before she left, in 2001, Chiara had buried medals of Our Lady at the various construction sites of the small town which is located in a suburb of Prague. “Some of our neighbors didn’t understand,” report those who were present at the time, “they thought we were burying money. But with time they came to understand the true sense of what was being born here.” Even people who seemed far from God drew near to us and now somehow belong to the family of the Movement. Oh yes, someone explained, because here it isn’t so much atheism, as much as a type of non-belief, which is the result of non-awareness. The desire to know God hasn’t diminished.
The first official meeting was with the local archbishop, Archbishop Duka, at the Archiepisopal See, from 1344, in Pragues historic district. Next to the Castle, which is partly a museum and partly the office of the President of the Republic, the city is dominated by the gothic cathedral of Saint Vito, the Christian heart not only of the local Church but of the entire country, as the parish priest explained to the group. They received a warm and cordial welcome from the archbishop, who shared a need that he felt to revive popular religosity in the diocese, and also his hope that the anniversary in 2013 of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius (who brought Christianity to the region 1150 years ago) would be a great occasioin for evangelization.
By Aurora Nicosia