From “Family Highlights”…travelling towards Oceania

We felt we were one family. Life is a wonderful adventure…always. But there are some experiences and circumstances which make this truth particularly evident.

As soon as we came back home after an intense month of sharing with families and communities of the Focolare Movement in Australia and New Zealand, Stefano and Roberta Serratore, members of the Central Secretary of “New Families”, tell us some flashes of their stay down-under, the second in Australia and the first in New Zealand.

Following the “Family Highlights”, an event at Loppiano this past March  which saw the participation of families representing the whole world, Stefano and Roberta  left together with Franco and Beatrice Cardinali (a  from Loppiano) to share in those lands on the other side of the world all of three Mariapolis, that the zone of Oceania organized specifically on the subject of family, in the year dedicated to “Chiara and the Family”.

The first one, with the title “Be a Family”, took place from the 6th to the 9th of April at Phillip Island, a gracious small island a two-hour drive from Melbourne.  Built in a climate of simple and profound unity with the Focolare centers, the families and all the members of the community, it  welcomed  about 160 participants, with a good number of teenagers and children.

The three days were based on the different contents of the project “Family Highlights”.

“With us – say Stefano and Roberta – also a priest and three Anglicans, a Buddhist and a family of the Baptist Church.  Several families of other nationalities.  A splendid experience of living together and of multicultural as well as personal sharings, especially after the two workshops that we had:  Beatrice and Franco on education, and the two of us on communication in the family.  A harmonious program, with large spaces and lots of time to stay together and share life and experiences:  From the moments in the hall to go deeper, to the precious pauses, to the games in the open air and the workshops for the whole family”.

20170407_092651After spending the days of the Easter celebration with the Focolare members, the families and the Community of Melbourne, during which a touching and meaningful moment was the participation in an ecumenical procession of Good Friday in the streets of the city, a procession made up of seven of different denominations and 3,000 participants in a climate of interreligious and intercultural sharing…


…Our “travelers” left in the direction of Sydney where the Focolare, the families and the Community welcomed them to share their Mariapolis from the 20th to the 23rd of April in Richmond, an hour and a half drive  from Sydney, a beautiful place in the woods.

The participants were 105,  among which families with a good number of teenagers and children and some grandparents.

Here too, as in Melbourne, people and families from different countries:  four families from Iraq, a group of seven Chinese and one person from Lebanon.  For them a precious work of translation in Arabic and Chinese thanks to the availability of some members of the Community.

The lines of content of “Family Highlights” inspired here too the making of the program, through the sharing of spiritual pearls and experiences of life.

“We shared with “mariapolitis” – commented Stefano and Roberta – our stories and  the two workshops on communication and education in the family.  This started a deep dialog and a rich sharing of experiences.

Many the precious occasions for talks both personal and with couples about the challenges that the families have to face here and on the chances to incarnate the Ideal of Unity.  Then the link-up CH lived together with other cities and communities committed to living the universal  brotherhood, was  a special moment,  in which everybody felt an active part of Chiara’s one family spread in all parts of the world.

Joyful the moments of pause, the meals and the games together, the walks and the Mariapolital of Saturday night during which we celebrated three 50th anniversaries:   That of the beginning of the spreading of the spirituality of Unity in Australia,  the 50 years of priesthood of Father Brendon and the 50 years of marriage of one of the couples.20170423_105813

Also  evening bond fire around which adults, youngsters and children sang songs in different languages was a moment of universal brotherhood.  A palpable brotherhood, felt in the relationships among everyone, which manifested itself in the impressions and witnesses at the end of the Mariapolis beyond the different nationalities, cultures and languages.  Strong the declared and reciprocal commitment to remain united to bring this life to where we all live”.

After the Mariapolis, two more days in Sydney to meet with the Focolare and the families of the Community, and then to leave for the third destination of our journey:  The Mariapolis di Rotorua (New Zealand)  from the 26th to the 29th of April, with the title “To Love You I Have Only This Moment”.

“We left from Sydney – go on Stefano and Roberta – and after a 4-hour flight, we arrived at Auckland where Yob and Bruno from Melbourne joined us.  With them, after a four-hour drive, we arrived at Rotorua, in a “camp” that hosted us for the Mariapolis, near a beautiful lake.

We were about 170 with a sparkling and joyful presence of more than 50 young people, teenagers and children.  Here as well, among the participants, some people and families of different nationalities from the Philippines, India, Korea.

Of great interest for everyone the introduction to the law of the Mariapolis, then several experiences and a workshop on ecology, which here is a deeply felt subject, with an outing in small groups to a nearby lake for various ecological activities.

20170427_191033People participated intensely at the Holy Masses, celebrated by the beloved Bishop of this Diocese, who remained with us for two days.  Some prayers were prepared in the language of the Maoris, a people whose civilization and culture are very present and well-integrated here.  (about  25% of  Newzealanders are Maoris) .  With them we also had a beautiful party.

And here again the sharings of two pearls by Chiara on the Art of Loving and on Jesus Forsaken, with experiences in the hall and our workshops on communication and education in the family.  Then, the time for a picnic and a walk in the charming nearby  forest of the “middle land” of the Lord of the Rings .

Splendid the last evening animated by Gen 4, Gen 3 and Gen 2 with sketches, songs and an interesting “ecological” reflection on the respect of Creation and of the environment,  presented as a gift using very amusing and creative video clips made in the Mariapolis and Power Points on the subject.

A wonderful moment!!!
Finally, the impressions and witnesses of the concluding morning were truly touching:  A “sacred” moment, during which many people said that they felt loved and in a family climate, which made it possible  to spontaneously share precious experiences and delicate personal and family situations too.

It was for us a three-day experience, rich in personal relationships and with families, days in which we were able to share joys and welcome and embrace together sufferings, for various situations and challenges that many people live here, with courage and the support of the community, remaining faithful to the ideal of unity, in the coherent and constant commitment to live it and witness it.  And the Gospel of the day:  “Come to me all of you who are tired and oppressed and I will give you rest”, seemed to us the Word lived in that climate of true, reciprocal love.

and also for being given At the end of this adventure Stefano and Roberta conclude in this way:
“We thank God for the gifts we received during this month from the wonderful people of this “Oceanic” land we too the opportunity to give ourselves,  sharing our life with them offering ourselves for a great Ideal, that “makes us one” from one end of the world to the other.  Many families live difficult situations with courage and peacefulness.  We shared joys and sufferings.  The simple relationship of strong unity with the “focolare” and with all the members of the Community made us true brothers.  With them too we now accept the challenge of going on living and sharing together the wonderful adventure of unity where God calls us and wants us in the present moment.

Giovanna Pieroni