Young people, who have made a decision to proclaim the Gospel by music, started the bands Eis (meaning ‘one’ in Greek) and Hope. They come from Teramo and Fermo in Italy. They see themselves as part of the Focolare’s Diocesan Movement and are working in their dioceses. Already they have met thousands of people.
‘Hope started in 1995,’ Fabio says, ‘when Pope John Paul II held the “Eurhope” meeting for young Europeans. It was an unforgettable event and has been followed by many other occasions where Hope has given, as it continues to give, its contribution in the diocese of Fermo and beyond.’
‘Eis, on the other hand, only started three years ago,’ Alice explains. ‘It was during a youth summer camp run by the diocese of Teramo. The group has already met more that four and a half thousand people in 17 concerts.’
What about publicity?
‘The bands are getting known spontaneously,’ says Alice. ‘Someone really likes a concert and then invites us to their own town. Perhaps a journalist writes an article, a local radio asks for an interview… and then shows follow on, one from one another, everywhere from church halls to stages set up in the squares for the whole town. The blogs of the two bands are full of enthusiastic people, some quite young, who really like what we’re doing. It’s not just people liking it though. Often there are chances to meet and even real changes happen in people’s lives!’
But the ‘bands don’t want to be only about the things they do,’ Alice and Fabio both point out. ‘Before all else,’ says Fabio, ‘we strive to be united, so that each of us who makes up the group tries to live with mutual love at the basis of everything. And then we do what needs to be done – we prepare the show, gather everyone’s ideas, take time to do numerous rehearsals…’
It can’t all be easy?
‘Of course nothing’s simple,’ Fabio immediately says. ‘But every time we try to start again, expressing our ideas and, at the same time, being ready to put them aside if they’re not needed. We want everything to be born from the unity of our group, from the unity that makes Jesus present among us (Matt. 18:20).’
Hope and Eis at the moment are doing two separate musicals on the life of Chiara Luce Badano, a young person from the Focolare beatified in 2010. The shows speak of a modern person, one who can be copied. They show a young woman who knew how make her life into an amazing ‘work of art’, managing to accept illness and death at 18 years of ago as God’s love for her and for her family.
‘The written impressions that we have from the concerts are extremely positive,’ Alice says. ‘For someone called Giuliana, of example, the figure of Chiara Luce managed make a whole town wake up to the issue of holiness.’
Chiara Lubich suggested music to young people, at the end of the 60s, as an instrument for evangelizing. The two well-known groups, Gen Rosso and Gen Verde, were started. Other bands also began, like Gen 70 in the parish of Vallo Torinese (in Piedmont). One of the people who formed it, Maria Orsola (who died when she was 15) is currently in the process of being beatified.