“Lights, action!”

Argentina, Mariapolis Lia. 800 young people learning how to take lead roles, not only in drama but in real life. In the Argentine Pampas, the Focolare town Mariapolis Lia – named after Lia Brunet, a pioneer of the Focolare Movement in South America – is not slowing down after celebrating the 50th anniversary of its foundation in July. It launched an invitation over a spring weekend in September for young people to take the lead in their own lives “right to the last moment”. «This expression – explained a Mariapolis Lia resident – is inspired by Guillermo Curti, a Focolarino priest who died suddenly early in the year and who was for us a model of faithfulness and of love right to his last moment».

The weekend of 22nd-23rd September saw the arrival of 800 young people from Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. «On the first day, we worked together in groups according to our countries of origin in order to prepare stands across the whole little town which showcased our own cultures and helped us all to get to know each other on a personal level. In the evening we put on a wonderful show of dance and performances reflecting our different folkloristic traditions. All of us young people found ourselves taking the lead in the preparation of the second day, Sunday, when more young people arrived from different regions of Argentina».

For Sunday’s programme, the Mariapolis was transformed into a cinema set, ready to start filming various movies set in five different eras (the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s and 2010s), in a range of genres, ranging from horror to musical, drama to science fiction. «The five decades represented the fiftieth anniversary of the Mariapolis town – they explained. Each film explored, through experiences and life stories, at least one of the challenges faced by young people today: forms of dependency, consumerism, life choices, social and mass media».

To conclude, an award ceremony along with speeches in front of a live audience in the Mariapolis town, with another 200 groups following on a live link and thousands more viewing online over the following days. «What emerged as the weekend came to a close was an all pervasive sense of joy. Together we had faced up to many difficulties and shared a deep experience of unity which changed us. We experienced it as the presence of Jesus among us». As hundreds of young people travelled home in many directions, for those who remained in the Mariapolis Lia, the celebration continued with a shared supper and more singing and dancing, to express their joy at such an inspiring experience lived together.

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