Getting ready for the centenary of Chiara Lubich’s birth

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In preparation for what would have been Chiara Lubich’s 100th birthday in January next year, a delegation from the Focolare founders’ home region of Trentino, north Italy, visited the Movement’s international centre near Rome on 16 April.

“We’re not here to ‘commemorate’ Chiara Lubich, or to turn her into some kind of monument, or consign her to history. That’s not what’s needed. We’re here to relive her message, link in with her legacy and communicate with her charism today”.
With these words, Alessandro Andreatta, Mayor of the city of Trent, explained the reason behind the visit of a delegation from the Trentino region, on 16 April, to the Focolare Movement’s international centre at Rocca di Papa, near Rome, in the lead-up to the celebrations of the centenary of Chiara’s birth in 2020.

The delegation included the President of the Autonomous Province of Trento Maurizio Fugatti, the President of the Primiero local community administration Roberto Pradel, the Director of the Trentino Historical Museum Foundation Giuseppe Ferrandi and Maurizio Gentilini, archivist and historian at the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and author of a new biography of Chiara Lubich to be published in 2020.
They were welcomed by Focolare President Maria Voce, Co-President Jesús Morán and other focolare members from different countries, together with the leaders of several local councils in the Castelli Romani area, where Chiara lived for over fifty years.

The visit was an important occasion in which to consolidate the friendship and collaboration between the city of Trent, the Trentino community and the Focolare Movement. A host of events are being organised to mark the centenary year both in the city of Trent and the Primiero Valley, as well as in many other towns and cities around the world. The celebrations begin on 7 December 2019 with the inauguration of a multimedia exhibition entitled “Chiara Lubich: City-World”, a collaborative venture between of the Chiara Lubich Centre and the Trentino Historical Museum Foundation.
“Through this initiative, we hope many people will get to know Chiara and her ideas,” explained Alba Sgariglia, co-director of the Chiara Lubich Centre, “as well as her spirituality, her work and her profile as a tireless promoter of a culture of unity and fraternity among peoples”.
According to Giuseppe Ferrandi, organising the exhibition has been a rewarding if complex cultural challenge. “We’re trying to take the extraordinary legacy of Chiara Lubich’s life and words, and transform it into a format within the limits of our exhibition space but without limiting the communication of the content. As our title suggests, the idea of the ‘city’ is central to Chiara’s thinking and writing. For her, the city is a place where debate occurs enabling it to relate directly to the rest of the world. In this way, we are encouraged not to stay confined within the local but to open up”.

Part of the exhibition will take place in the Primiero Valley where, from the 1940s onwards, Chiara Lubich and a small group of companions used to go every summer. Every year more people joined them, until several thousand people from all over the world were gathering there to share in the experience of a life centred on fraternity.

After Trent and Primiero, the exhibition will be hosted by nine capital cities outside Europe. In each location, it will be further shaped by the culture of the place, in a vision opening up to the rest of the world.
Throughout 2020, visitors are expected to come to Trent from all over the globe. There will be a series of national and international conventions and events taking place in the Trentino area and in other Focolare centres across all continents.

The President of the Autonomous Province of Trent spoke of their pride at “Being here, today, to express this unity of intent. Trentino is a land of thoroughfares, of borders: Chiara Lubich knew what these characteristics meant and how to communicate with them. Back in June 2001, Chiara spoke to the people of Trent about fraternity from the point of view of the city. Her attitude was to respect all the different stakeholders who form a community, and she knew how to listen to them all. This is the way to interpret the interests and needs of the people for the best outcome”.
In her concluding remarks, Maria Voce underlined the value of Chiara Lubich’s attention to the life of the city. “She was in the Primiero Valley when she understood God wanted her to go back to the city of Trent. Throughout her life, in cities around the world – a number of which acknowledged her as an honorary citizen – she experienced a strong sense of engagement which came from identifying particular problems and sufferings, embracing them and introducing seeds of life and love there”.

Stefania Tanesini

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