Condolences to the family of Mayor Emanuele Crestini and to all the residents of Rocca di Papa (Rome, Italy) from the International Center of the Focolare, on behalf of the whole Movement.
“Mayor, friend, hero”. This is how the municipal webpage of Rocca di Papa, near Rome, described the mayor, Emanuele Crestini, who died on 10th June in a fire caused by a gas explosion during maintenance work on the mains.
The international center of the Focolare Movement is located in Rocca di Papa, and the Focolare has enjoyed a warm relationship with their local Mayor, and with all the councillors in the Castelli Romani region.
Local councillor Vincenzo Eleuteri also lost his life in the fire. The two men were the last to leave the burning building after checking no-one was trapped inside. This act of exceptional courage and selflessness towards colleagues with whom Mayor Crestini had been working that day characterises an official who was prepared to defend “his” people with extreme dedication, not even sparing his own life.
Focolare President, Emmaus Maria Voce expressed her profound condolences on behalf of the whole Movement in a message to the Deputy Mayor of Rocca di Papa, Veronica Cimino, describing Emanuele Crestini as “a luminous example of generosity demonstrated so dramatically in his last moments which witness to his greatness of heart and the guiding values which animated his political commitment and action”. Condolences were also received from the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Matterella.
Rocca di Papa, home to the International Center of the Focolare Movement, has long had a special relationship with the Movement. In fact it was the first town to confer an honorary citizenship on Chiara Lubich. The relationship has developed and deepened over the years, expressed in numerous opportunities for collaboration. Most recently, on 16 April 2019, Mayor Crestini participated in a programme to welcome a delegation from the Trentino region in preparation for the forthcoming centenary celebration of Chiara Lubich’s birth.
On that occasion, the Rocca di Papa council website posted Mayor Crestino’s reaction, which illustrates something of his worldview: “It’s been a real honour to accept the invitation from President Voce and a great pleasure to welcome the delegation from Trentino to our town. In a friendly and constructive atmosphere, we’ve got to know each other and exchange our experiences and many moving memories linked to Chiara Lubich, which highlighted the spirit of this great protagonist of our times. We joined in this work to make the Centenary celebrations as inclusive as posssible. “Inclusion”, in fact, is one of the key words in Chiara’s teaching, promoting union of intentions, unity of communities and of humanity as the best possible way ahead. In the local dimension of our own towns and cities, this big idea could and should lead us towards listening more to one another, approaching each other, sustaining those in need, without any social discrimination at all.”