Happy birthday Loreto School

The Loreto School, the freshness of the first 40 years. This year five families from four continents are attending the school, which was inaugurated by Chiara Lubich, who also indicated the name "Loreto". Since 1982, 500 others have participated, while almost 1,500 families have stayed for shorter periods.

The children are the ones who hold up best. They arrive in Loppiano, and don`t know a word of Italian or have a bridge-language with their peers, but they immediately play with each other and understand each other with the language of innocent spontaneity of the heart, even when they might have some form of fragility or have special needs. They manage to drag their parents into the first, uncertain conversations with the other adults present at the Loreto School. It happened again this year with the families arriving at the citadel in September to begin the formation period which will last until June 2023.

The background of the five families is very varied: South Korea and Brazil, the Ivory Coast, Hungary, and Italy. There are nine children, and the age of the little ones shows the dimension of the parents ‘conviction, so much so as to uproot their own families from the network of their normal relationships because they have felt the enormous importance of a formation in the spirituality of communion as a family,


«The originality of the Loreto School has various facets – point out Luigi and Maddalena Triggiano, who are responsible for the school -.  It is a journey that develops not only a global personal formation, but that of the couple and the family in the light of the charism of unity. Experiences and cultural dynamics, within the horizon of fraternity, are added to a spiritual and humane formation”. They specify: “The time spent at the school is a time of the spirit and the months spent here are sufficient to develop an evolution of relationships that has a great effect on each individual family and between the families. It changes their outlook on the reality of the external environment and the world. It changes their state of mind on everything.”

The Loreto School starts in September to ensure the inclusion of children in local schools. The Hungarian couple tell of their children`s difficult beginning in the school of Incisa Valdarno. The first day of school will remain forever in their memory: a morning in class without knowing Italian, without understanding the teacher’s proposals, without any relationship with classmates. “It was the worst day of my life,” one of the children said. But the first period at the Loreto School is not easy for the parents either. “After a while, the desire to go home increases– reports Luisa Omenigrandi smiling –but in the end they don`t want to leave”.

In short – as the four couples (one from Costa Rica and three from Italy) who make up the group coordinating the experience remark sympathetically– the Loreto School “is a story made up of many stories, including conceptions and births, with a mountain of anecdotes”. We can’t imagine how high the mountain is, given that the school now celebrates 40 years of life, but the final tally is very respectable. 500 families attended the entire course, with an average of 12 per year and with 2/3 children on average for each family; and almost 1,500 families have stayed for shorter periods. Not even the pandemic experience was missed with families unable to return to their home countries.

The Loreto School was an idea which matured in the context of the experience of New Families, founded by Chiara Lubich in 1967. The novelty could not fail to involve Loppiano, because the need to create a school of formation soon emerged, a work in progress for growth and exchange between the families of the world. Since then, a team of experts on family issues has supported the school`s journey. Chiara Lubich also indicated the name “Loreto”, a town in the Marche region (Central Italy), where the house is located that – according to tradition – hosted the Holy Family, with the presence of Jesus between Mary and Joseph.

Thus, the renovation of the first house began in Loppiano, that of Montelfì, inaugurated by Lubich in 1975, with a commitment from the families of the Movement to cover the expenses. It was an adventure within an adventure. The first of a series, which Danilo and Annamaria Zanzucchi, then responsible for the International Centre for New Families, would talk about at length. In 1982 Chiara Lubich inaugurated the Loreto School. Mazia Gorton, from Austria, recalls those moments and quotes a phrase of the foundress of the Focolare: “It is the Family of families of the children of God”.

Once the course is over, the families return to their own countries and often become responsible for groups of families, animators of local communities of the Movement, involved at an ecclesial level in the pastoral care of the family and more. For this reason, each arrival of families at the Loreto School is the result of a process of solidarity lasting for a couple of years, which economically involves the family, the community to which they belong, the Movement in their country. It is an investment in formation, which is based on unity and communion.
Happy birthday, Loreto School!

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