Fazenda da Esperanca began thirty years ago with a young man named Nelson Giovannelli. Moved by the words of St Paul I became weak with the weak, Nelson reached out to a group of young drug addicts in his quarter of the city. From the beginning he was encouraged by Father Hans Stapel (Frei Hans). Fazendas were begun in many countries where they continue to offer recovery programmes based on living the words of the Gospel. One Brazilian bishop called the Fazenda “a shrine of the New Evangelisation.”
On April 15, 2014, six hundred young people from the Fazenda along with young people from 70 Fazendas around the world who were linked up via internet enjoyed a moment of profound sharing with representatives from the Focolare, including Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti. Frei Hans gave the opening address, in which he described the “experience of God” during his recent recovery. This was followed by music, excerpts from the history of the Fazenda, experiences and dialogue. The testimonies of those who had come out of the hell of drug addiction were moving. One of these was the testimony of Mario, who eventually consecrated his life to God and founded new communities in other Latin American countries.
During an open discussion with Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti, the young people discovered that the spirituality which was at the root of their recovery was the spirituality of unity that is shared by the founders of Fazenda. Many issues were covered during their dialogue: scars of the past; sexuality and chastity; and the significance of the charism of the Fazenda – understood as a gift from God given to one or more people for the good of humankind – and its relationship to the experience of Chiara Lubich.
This was truly the novelty of the meeting: “A charism, which is the fruit of the charism of unity,” said Giancarlo Faletti. “This shows God’s life in action, his presence in our history. Coming here today with all of you we’ve had a great experience of God’s ‘productivity’!” Maria Voce added: “Considering the charism of unity even after meeting other charisms that have blossomed from it, I see it as a tree with many branches and each branch is laden with fruit. And each fruit is the magnification of some specific detail.”
She went on to say: “When I think of the Fazenda, the problem of drug addiction comes to mind. That is Jesus who took upon himself the drama of drugs and cried out the Abandonment [of the Father]. The Fazenda focuses only on this detail, but it’s such a large detail that has evolved into a great and marvelous work. Another work focuses on the shortage of child education. That is the ignorance, which Jesus forsaken took upon himself. And a work was born that, which is offering a new educational approach based on the charism of unity. Even though the root is hidden and you can only see the branches and fruits, the root is rejoicing! And the fruits are thankful to the root.” Frei Hans reaffirmed this as he expressed his hope for more intense mutual collaboration, and that rehabilitation workers be nourished with the spirituality of unity.
Maria Voce concluded saying: “It seems that all the charisms we’re coming to know and many others we still don’t know or are still to be born, fit in with the charism of unity because they’re linked by reciprocal love that shows up the particular greatness of each one. And they all contribute together to the fulfillment of the Lord’s prayer ‘that all may be one’.” So I say: “Hurrah Fazenda Esperanca!”