A Solemn yet familiar atmosphere

It has begun! At 12.30 (UTC +1) the General Assembly of the Focolare Movement began: long awaited and prepared with members and adherents of the Focolare from all over the world. Originally scheduled for September 2020, it was postponed due to the pandemic and is taking place electronically.


On January 22, the centenary year of the Movement’s founder Chiara Lubich ended, while today, January 24, we remember the day in 1944 when Chiara, “discovered” the reality of Jesus in  his abandonment on the cross; that Jesus who would become the “spouse of her soul” and who would push her to “seek him” in all suffering and pain of humanity, to rebuild relationships and bridges of unity.

The Assembly – according to its regulations – is “the first and most important governing body of the Focolare Movement”. 360 participants take part, of which 139 by right, 181 elected and 40 invited by the President.

Although located all over the world, the 360 participants entered the one large virtual conference room, all aware of the solemnity and importance of this moment, all builders of the lively atmosphere of a global family, which is present even on the virtual platform

Maria Voce, outgoing president of the Movement at the end of her second term, opens the Assembly with a solemn appeal.  She invites the participants to assume the attitude of Jesus at the Last Supper and wash each other’s feet, which means being ready “to listen to each other, to understand each other, to go beyond differences, to become truly brothers and sisters, o which means truly equal, truly with the utmost dignity, which is that dignity that Jesus gives us because he makes us children of God and all brothers and sisters ”.

As the regulations set out, today’s session included several votes: first  the election of the two moderators who will coordinate and lead the work. Uschi Schmitt, a German doctor and Andrea Ponta, an Italian engineer, were chosen. The electoral commission was then approved, composed of Danilo Virdis, Flavia Cerino, Waldery Hilgeman, Laura Bozzi and Sister Tiziana Merletti, all resident in Italy and for legal reasons present in the official seat of the Assembly, the International Centre of the Focolare in Rocca di Papa (Italy).

In subsequent votes, the Assembly then approved the programme for these days and an amendment to the General Statutes of the Movement which reduces the minimum number of councillors to be elected from 30 to 20.

From tomorrow, three days of spiritual retreat will begin for the participants.