Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti were welcomed by a colorful carpet of flowers from ancient religious tradition and by a festive atmosphere at the Our Lady of the Focolarini Mariapolis Center in the Guatemala capital.

This is the first stop on an extended visit to Latin America. They have come to visit “the family of Chiara” that lives in this corner of the world. It has been an intense journey in which they have met civil and ecclesiastical authorities and representatives from various lay organizations who are members or friends of the Focolare. It has been a story of life and relationships that have been sown and nourished by Chiara Lubich’s charism of unity. Some have travelled from Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Belize. The ancient cultures of the region are living on in them: Maya, Garifuna, Garifuna, the Incas and Mestizos.

A set of dances is offered by children and teens who attend the Fiore Educational Centre in Guatemala City. One moment of the program is dedicated to Fiore Ungaro, a focolarina who first brought the spirituality of unity to these lands. Today the education center has 210 students with 28 teachers and staff. It is a concrete answer of love by the people of the focolare, because as in all Latin American countries, education is perhaps the decisive battlefront in which the wounds of this society will be defeated.   

The Bishop of Escuintla, Victor Hugo Palma Paúl was also present at a meeting with representatives from ten Movements who are members of the “Comisión de Movimientos Laicales y Nuevas Comunidades” (Commision of Lay Movements and New Communities), an agency of the Bishops Conference of Guatemala. He welcomed Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti: “The Focolare is one of the most vibrant schools that we have.” “Your charism is one that enflames, welcomes and warms the Christian life, placing the accent on unity.”  

Forty focolarini and focolarine live in this Central American country. They come from Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia and Italy. They are the “heart” of the Focolare Movement and a true reflection of it: different ethnic groups, professions, political, social and economic sensibilities. Maria Voce listens and, at the conclusion of the meeting, shares an idea: Unity should pass through a “culture of trust”. “It is a matter of having absolute trust in the other, in the sister or brother. The other wants what I want – unity. Let what you do not be done to be admired, to assert yourself or so that you may stand out. Let it be done for the sake of unity. Each of you works in a different way, but let each one work for unity. To trust in God and in the other, therefore, is an imperative. It means believing that God is at work. He doesn’t need perfect people, but only those people of whom he has need.”    

There was folkloristic costume and dance, engaging rhythms and sounds. Six hundred people gathered in the Mariapolis Centre hall. They were all members of the Focolare community living in these lands. This history of the Focolare in Central America goes back to 1954 and it is extraordinary because of the war, the economic difficulties, and the great distances. Yet it is a story that expresses gratitude to God. “Your peoples,” Maria Voce concluded, “seem to me to have a destiny: that of showing what the world would be if account were taken of the value of each human being. Everyone’s experience is necessary to others in order to construct a mosaic of unmatched beauty.”     

During a meeting with more than 200 youths between the ages of 15 and 25, a deep relationship was established in which, amid the exuberant joy of being together, there also emerged the difficulty of going against the current when it came to making certain choices: “You’re not alone,” Maria Voce told them, “each time that you find yourselves before a choice you must make, remember that you’re not alone, but that all the youths who have made the choice for a united world are with you.”   

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