Marco Tecilla, the first focolarino

MarcoTecillaIt was the end of 1945 in Trent, Italy, when the war had just ended. Marco was 19 years old and going through a very deep spiritual crisis. A friend who belonged to a community of Men Religious had invited him to a meeting. A young woman, a little older than himself, “spoke about God with such fervour and conviction that there wasn’t any room for doubts,” he later recalled. That young woman was Chiara Lubich who was joined by a group of girls who, like her, had chosen God as their ideal in life. In no time, Marco became the first young man to follow her. He was the first focolarino.

The Tecilla family were simple folk, his father a baker, his mother a nurse, one sister and three brothers. With the Great Depression of 1929, his father lost his job. “I remember him covering himself with a mantle in the cold winter months,” Marco recounts, “and me accompanying him from one bread shop to the next, knocking on doors and asking for work, or basket of bread to feed ourselves. I later discovered that as he held on to my hand, with the other hand he counted the beads of his Rosary.”
In January 1943 his father died. War broke out and the bombardments began on Trent. The Tecilla family fled to the mountains. Marco avoided the call to arms by signing up for civil service. Meanwhile,he was hired as an operator at the Trento- Malè Railway.

His sister, Maria, began to attend a lot of spiritual retreats and to collect clothing for the poor. The family – and Marco – thought she was “over doing it” – until he received that invitation from the friend who belonged to the Men’s Religious community and Marco’s encounter with God-Love.

MarcoMarco_primi-tempi_3From the moment he met Chiara and the first group of young women, he went often to do odd jobs at the “little house” in Cappuccini square, where the women focolarine lived. He was drawn by the supernatural atmosphere that he found in that place. “One evening,” he recalls, “I had to work a little longer than usual, to finish up some repair work. Chiara was working on some sewing, sitting at the table nearby. Without warning she turned to me and said: “If Jesus were to come today, he would be Jesus 24 hours a day, whether working, praying, eating, resting . . . in today’s world he’d be an electrician like you . . .” Marco was quite struck by “this new vision of the Christian life. I saw a new horizon opening before me, overflowing with light. When I left the “little house” the sky was all dotted with stars. A new life began for me and I had to turn the page and abandon myself to the arms of the God who had manifested himself to me as LOVE.” Marco felt that Jesus was calling to him: If you want to be perfect go and sell what you have and give it to the poor; then, come and follow me. Following Jesus, that’s my path.”

On the evening of November 27, 1948 the first men’s focolare was begun with Livio who had also been added to the group. Marco never imagined that in the years to come he would be moved thirty times! The nascent Movement spread quickly all over the world and Marco would move to many cities in Italy . . . In 1953 to Innsbruck, in 1958 to Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and Chile; in 1960 to Trieste, Italy, and then beyond the Iron Curtain in Zagreb. On November 22, 1964 he was to the priesthood and returned to Brazil until 1967, returning again until 1971. Then he was in southern Italy and Milan, Padua and finally Trent after 31 years away. That is when he found the land for the new Mariapolis Centre in Cadine and took part in the project that Chiara Lubich launched in 2001: Trento Ardente. At the end of that year, Chiara wanted him at the Centre of the Movement in Rocca di Papa, Italy, where he would live out the last years of his life.

Marco20-VGGCH-20010601-Marco_016“His joy was always hard to contain when he came to Loppiano to give lessons on the Spirituality to members of the schools,” recalls Redi Mghenzani who lived with Marco for 20 years, “ [He showed special care and attention] when it came to the new generations of men and women focolarini. He leaves us a trail of light that will never be extinguished.”

“Marco sowed love in many parts of the world,” recalls focolarino Armando Droghetti, who accompanied Marco during the final years of his life,” that love which allowed unity to be born among people from all social and cultural backgrounds, as many of the numberless visitors from this past month had said; especially from last year when a series of small strokes affected him in different ways. But as everything seemed to be failing in Marco (his voice became weaker and weaker, his legs were somehow blocked) the situation pushed all of us, beginning with Marco, to supplement our mutual love. Based on this spiritual life and an ever more intense unity in our focolare, even the unexpected crisis of May 8th didn’t catch Marco and us off guard. During a brief upturn in his condition he remarked with great certainty: “I only need to be purified.” He would welcome the doctor with those shining eyes that seemed to wrap everyone in love. And this was also the impression of many who went to say their final goodbye. They said that beyond a sense of orphan hood because of his departure, what Marco had prepared them for by saying I’m nothing and God is everything. Only in Him do we live” – was even stronger.

Focolare president, Maria Voce, highlighted that “Marco that mark of radicalness of the early times of the Movement, along with his strength and faith in the charism of unity with the purity of his Gospel live.”

In an interview that was released on March 31, 2008, a few days after Chiara Lubich died, Marco stated: “As long as I have a bit of breath, my wish is to be able to give my all to the new generations. I’m sure that whoever comes after us will do greater things than we did, precisely because of the richness that is transmitted by the charism of unity, which will never ever die.”

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