Tanino Minuta is Italian, a professor of the History of the Italian Language. He lived in Hungary for many years, teaching Italian Department at Janus Pannonius di Pécs University. We ask him to share his memories, when the focolare was opened in the Magyar land.
What was the first impact with this world so different from your own?
I arrived in Hungary in October of 1980 and stayed there for 16 years. I had been sent to open the men’s focolare house in Budapest. It wasn’t easy to enter the country back then under the Communist regime. The Minister of External Affairs had given me a scholarship to do research on Children’s Literature. In the beginning my life was spent mostly around the capital. The front of the buildings still had the marks from the revolution of 1956. But the real wounds were not the ones left on the buildings, but in the hearts of the people: bitter disillusionment, deep humiliation and, what was most shocking, suspicion toward everything and everyone.
What was this experience life for you?
It was a gift of God. After arriving in Hungray, which had been so impoverished by the strong pace of social changes, cut off from the constructive relations it had hitherto enjoyed, I was in the best conditions to watch from within, the dynamic involved in generating a community. And I was better able to understand the didactics and the scope of the Focolare Movement which has the mission to work at the root of relationships, to create the conditions for relationships to exist and grow, and that they be constructive and constitutive for society. Re-establish unity. I saw a revolution in “status nascendi”. It was an experience of the Spirit who, as David Maria Turoldo writes: “is the wind that doesn’t allow the dust to slumber”.
Just as I was leaving for Hungary, Chiara Lubich sent me a gift “For the Budapest focolare”. The person who brought it to me, brought me Chiara’s best wishses: “You’ll see miracles!” Yes, I’ve seen miracles! I’ve seen “the Spirit blow on the dust” and “the impossible be possible”.
The impossible become possible?
I saw that the first small group who lived the spirituality of the Movement, comprised of families, priests, a few youths, children. . . was in fact a community goverened by charity, exactly as Chiara says: that “there is nothing more organized than what love organizes and nothing more united than what love unites”.
The Focolare is now very widespread and esteemed in Hungary. Do you have a wish for this visit of Maria Voce ?
With a rare combination of immediate cordiality and noble refinement that distinguishes the Hungarian people, they never let themselves be seduced by ways or ideologies that are not worthy of human beings. I think they will be able to receive the gift of this visit and to be a gift not only to the president, Maria Voce, but to the whole Movement.
The fact that this land was consecrated to Mary, with the act of presenting her with a crown by Saint Stephen, constituted a sealed agreement and an historical and spiritual responsibility. I would say, using the words of the national anthem, “The nation has suffered for all sins of the past and of the future.” They’re now in a position to be a country that can offer so much to other countries. My wish is that the president would fifty years later, reap the fruits of Chiara’s prayer and experience for herself that Mary is truly the Soverign Mistress of the Magyars.