On this sunny afternoon in the end of the austral summer, the atmosphere at Mariapolis Lia was serenely festive. This was the fourth anniversary of Chiara Lubich’s birth to Heaven and this year the focus was on the relationship of the Movement’s founder with youth. It was also the opportune moment for the academic opening of the Gen School’s annual course on the Culture of Unity, for the youths who had arrived from seventeen different countries. Eighty young people from the American continent and a few Europeans have interrupted their studies for a year and gone to the Argentine pampa to be part of this training course in becoming builders of brotherhood in their home environments.
“All the moments of the day, from workshops to sport, from moments of study to the liturgy, from welcoming visitors to the Mariapolis – all of it is part of the training,” explains Adriana Otero who specializes in microbiology and the environment and is in charge of the Gen School. “In practice,” adds Omar Diaz, Education graduate and in charge of the Gen School for the young men, “as Chiara had suggested, the daily life of this school revolves around four daily “communions” – the Eucharist, the moment by moment living of the Word, the neighbor and Jesus in the midst of the community, a presence that becomes palpable when there is mutual love.”
Most of the students have just finished high school and are having their first work experience here. They live in small groups of seven to ten young people, with all that community life implies: preparing meals, caring for the house, being attentive to one another’s needs. . . all flavoured, naturally, with that typical flavour that internationality brings.
“It’s beautiful to then see how each year they arrive as adolescents, but leave as adults with their minds and souls expanded toward all of humanity,” explains Silvana Verdun, a Bolivian psychologist and instructor at the school.
Luce, a seventeen year-old from Argentina, wants to grow more as a person, and he thinks that living with other guys from different places will prove to be an enriching opportunity. Andres, a nineteen year-old from Venezuela hopes to learn to grow more integrally. Thomas, a twenty one year-old is looking forward to deepening his relationship with God and with his brothers and sisters.
They have a whole year to be lived. A journey filled with straight paths, curves, climbs and chasms. A path, although well defined, will still present many surprises.
It is a goal they shall reach together by their daily efforts to translate into life, into concrete facts, all that they will discover day by day.