Mariapoli in spite of Covid

This year once again Mariapoli, or “Cities of Mary”, have been held in different parts of the world. Since the beginning of the Focolare Movement, these events have been bringing together people for a few days from all over the world, people who want to get to know the Focolare spirituality and way of life, encouraging them to live an experience of universal fraternity.

“We came from all over France and many were delighted to be able to rediscover relationships face-to-face and rediscover that unity can be lived in spite of the uncertain future.” This is how the focolarine in France described the Mariapolis days spent at Ressins. The meeting was a live, face-to-face meeting, and it was good to see each other again after such a long period of Covid. “Gaining momentum… to live fraternity today”, was the title of the event which was attended by more than 300 people.

In Slovenia the Mariapolis whose theme was Love – the medicine for everything, was also held live with 200 participants. “As I was walking with my children,” said Barbara, who attended the event with her three young children and had been was diagnosed with cancer a year ago, “I heard the voice of Jesus saying to me: ‘I didn’t send you this illness because I don’t love you but because I love you even more”. The illness ignited great love between her and her husband and extraordinary trust in God. Chiara Lubich’s words and the experiences shared helped them to discover how precious relationships built on love are.

In Paraguay the Mariapolis took place online. The “cries of suffering humanity”, the “cry of Creation” and “the cries of the new generations” were the themes addressed. “We were able to see all the inequality and lack of tolerance in our society and how we could respond to those cries of suffering,” said Silvia. The joy of the Mariapolis was not only felt by the Paraguayans who took part but also by people who joined online from different parts of the world.

In the zone of Sao Paulo in Brazil, the Mariapolis entitled New culture, creating dialogue, took place online with more than 1300 people connected and over 4000 views on YouTube. Here are some of the impressions: “The theme of ecology with the presentation of the Dice of the Earth gave me a broader vision of how to care for and improve our common home.” “What happened to me today shows how God acts. I got up happy and ready to love more! I went to the market and on my way out I saw my sister whom I hadn’t spoken to for 10 years. I didn’t think I could forgive her.  Instead I said my yes to Jesus and went to speak to her.”

Finally, in Venezuela the Mariapolis was described as ‘an oasis in the desert’ because of Covid and uncertainty about the future. The local community wrote: “It has filled us with hope and we recognise ourselves more strongly than ever as Chiara’s family”. “I promise to become a super hero who will always take care of the planet,” said a 9-year-old boy, “help everybody and be a good citizen, setting an example with my life and always doing good.” A lady who had tested positive for Covid and was following the Mariapolis from her bed said: “Here I am! I’m here too… the best experience for me at this moment has been to feel surrounded by the love of God through each of you”.

Lorenzo Russo

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