Families in crisis and the world of separation: how New Families supports

The existence of struggling couples, separated couples and those in new unions is a cry for help in the world. The “New Families Movement”, a branch of the Focolare, endeavours to support these families.

There are many couples in difficulty, who due to misunderstandings, lack of dialogue, coldness in their relationship, arrive at the extreme decision: separation. Families in crisis, torn apart, separated, new unions forming. Often problems between couples, small or large, cannot be resolved on their own but need help from the outside. The New Families Movement has been trying to help such families for many years, families who feel “different”, only because they have not had a straightforward path in life.

Giulia and Andrea (names have been changed) are proof that despite the imperfections of life you can still be a family.

During her adolescence she got to know the Focolare and discovered that the only ideal that is worth living: God-Love.

Time passed, her friends got engaged, married, some consecrated themselves to God but for her a secure future has not yet appeared. She graduated, then her parents split up.

“I experienced pain for my family that I discovered after almost 30 years, was different from what I imagined. Yet love is possible even after so many years, because I have experienced it in the “Ideal”!”

Giulia moved city to pursue her work dream. One night a friend insisted that they go out with other friends for a village festival. So she met Andrea, nice and kind but he is separated and has two children.

“No, thanks, was my answer to his calls inviting me out.  I was upset because I didn’t want to and couldn’t have an affair with a separated person. How could I reconcile my life, my being a Christian with someone like him?”

Life goes on but her heart was increasingly anxious.

“I knew the Church’s teaching on these unions so I went to Mass but decided not to go to communion, since I didn’t feel worthy anymore. I decided to talk to the priest who knows me from childhood. And so we entrusted the situation to Mary”.

Time went on.

Julia says, “Getting to know him,  I felt that this could be “my way” but this made me suffer, above all the thought of no longer being able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. However, if this is the teaching of the Church, I would respect it and go on. Thus I remain faithful to Sunday Mass, even if without receiving Communion.”

In 2016, an invitation came from New Families to participate in a conference in Rome for separated couples in a new union.

“Andrea and I adhered to the proposal. On the one hand, I was afraid of the reaction that he might have, on the other hand I felt that this was an opportunity for us. It was three intense days. I saw Andrea involved and very happy. For me it was a sense of feeling at home with the person who is important to me, even if not canonically perfect. Andrea brought home the feeling of being a living part of the Church. Not marginalised due to a finite marriage but a member of a living Body, no longer excluded.

I told Andrea that the family I wanted in my life had to be built on the love we had experienced in those days, that measure and dimension and if he agreed with this, then we could get married. Yes, a civil marriage, but the family that would be born had to have that seal: the measure of mutual love that we had discovered”.

We were married in September 2017, in the Town Hall. “I thought that my great youthful desire to go into the world came true on the very day of our wedding, where all generations and cultures were represented, where there were people from various backgrounds, believers and non-believers, but all happy, sharing our joy.

For years now, we have been part of a group of New Families, where there are couples who live the same situation as us and this gives us the opportunity to express ourselves freely without the fear of being judged. This no longer makes us feel “class B” but fully accepted and recognized as a family. It helps us in our journey as a couple not to close in on ourselves, to keep alive the dialogue between us in sharing with other couples, to cultivate positive relationships and good friendships”.

(Source: www.focolare.org – Lorenzo Russo)

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