Orgosolo is a town in the heart of Sardinia renowned for its murals which illustrate the problems, the hopes of a people living mainly through farming and agriculture, a people often terrorised by roving bandit gangs widespread in this area.
It was precisely in this town that on 24 December 1998, Fr Graziano Muntoni, assistant parish priest, was shot in the chest at dawn break leaving the whole community in shock and disbelief.
Despite the understandable anger and dismay, the parish community immediately sensed that they couldn’t just condemn the violence; they felt they wanted to do something positive. But what? The community began to reflect on the words of the Gospel which invite us to ask anything of God united in his name. The idea was born of establishing a daily appointment, in different places, to invoke God for peace for their land by reciting the prayer “It’s time for peace”.
It was by no means simple as peace is something one has to generate and safeguard; it requires a firm commitment to live love for neighbour each and every day.
With this awareness a number of initiatives were set in motion to make Time for Peace known to as many people as possible, even to children in schools and to students through various conferences. Members of the community also spoke on the main television networks.
Time for Peace brought new hope to the town; many people became reconciled with one other after years of tensions, like G., a woman who confided to us: “I need to find the strength to forgive those who killed two of my sons and who sent my other two children in jail.” In a subsequent meeting, G. shared with everyone: “I have been able to forgive. The prayer for peace has removed hatred from my heart. During Mass, I went up to my enemy and I shook his hand.”
Since then, others are finding the strength to forgive actions that were just as serious, and they are steps taken that are by no means insignificant: like Anna, whose son was kidnapped and killed in 2008 and who despite the tragedy is managing to rebuild her life serenely. Even when she learned that a suspect was found for the murder of her son, rather than ask for punishment, she prayed that for him it may be an encounter with God.
Our choice of solidarity prompts us to embrace the abyss of grief which has engulfed our people and we openly try to sensitize institutions about the initiative through the actions we promote. Inspired by our efforts, one of the schools has developed a project for a culture of peace and forgiveness among the students, and the results of this project will be published and brought to the attention of the United Nations.
Our efforts to build peace, even where it seems almost impossible, are leading to concrete results giving a new face to our town.
Compiled by the Focolare community of Orgosolo, Sardinia, Italy.