sexta-feira, 14 de março de 2008

Chiara Lubich

No one knew how everything would develop. It was revealed to us gradually, through circumstances and over time. Even the structure of the movement, more than being suggested to us by human ideas, was inspired by a charism that is a gift of God."

—Chiara Lubich
founder of the Focolare Movement

In 1943, Chiara Lubich, 23, was working as an elementary school teacher in Trent, in northern Italy. She was registered in the faculty of Philosophy at the University of Venice.
In the midst of the destruction and violence of World War II, together with a small group of friends, she realized that God is the only ideal worth living for. God, whom she understood as being Love, would transform her existence and that of many others. He showed them the meaning of their lives: to work together for the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer for unity: "Father, may they all be one." With time it became clear that God’s original plan was expressed in the words: to bring the human family together in unity. In little more than 50 years, from the experience of living the Gospel on a daily basis, a current of spirituality - the spirituality of unity - has come to life which has given rise to a movement of spiritual and social renewal of worldwide dimensions: The Focolare Movement.

1920 Chiara was born in Trent. During the period of Fascism her family experienced extreme poverty: her socialist father lost his job because of his political convictions. To support herself while studying Chiara gave private lessons.

December 7, 1943 Alone, she responded to the call to give her whole life to God.
May 13, 1944 A night of fierce bombing in Trent. Chiara’s house was among the many destroyed. As her relatives fled into the nearby mountains to seek refuge, she decided to stay in Trent with those who were already following her. Amid the ruins of the city, she met a woman who had lost her senses at seeing her four children dead. As Chiara comforted her she understood that she was being asked to embrace the suffering of humanity. It was among the poor of Trent that "the divine adventure," as Chiara has often called it, began. From this experience came the certainty that the Gospel, when it is put into action, gives rise to the most powerful of social revolutions: here are found the first indications of the Movement’s continual commitment at a social level.

1948 Chiara met Igino Giordani, statesman, member of parliament, writer, journalist, pioneer in the field of ecumenism, and father of four. The meeting took place in the Italian parliament. He became a co-founder of the Movement with Chiara because of his contribution to bringing about a social incarnation of the spirituality of unity which in time gave rise to the New Families Movement and the New Humanity Movement.

1949 Chiara met Pasquale Foresi, a young man who grew up in Catholic environments. Troubled by a profound inner searching, he felt an intense need to connect Gospel truths with his life in the Church.
He was the first focolarino to become a priest, ordained in 1954. Always at the side of the foundress, he contributed among other things to giving life to the Movement’s theological studies, to starting the Città Nuova Publishing House and to overseeing the building of Loppiano, the little town of the Movement near Florence, Italy. Throughout the Movement’s development, he has given a noteworthy contribution to concretizing its ecclesial and lay expressions. Along with Igino Giordani, he is considered to be a co-founder of the Movement.

1954 A meeting took place in Vigo di Fassa (near Trent) with refugees from the forced labor camps in Eastern Europe. The Focolare’s spirituality of unity began to influence individuals and groups in Soviet bloc countries.

1956 The Soviet invasion of Hungary. Faced with this dramatic development Chiara felt the urgent need to bring God back into society so that humanity could recognize him once again as its source of freedom and fraternity. This marks the birth of the "volunteers of God," dedicated people at work in the most diverse fields of action: from politics to economics, from art to education. They were to become the animators of the New Humanity Movement.
1959In Europe many of the wounds caused by the violence and hatred of World War II remained. At the Mariapolis (summer gathering of the Movement) in the Dolomite Mountains, Chiara addressed a group of politicians inviting them to go beyond the boundaries of their respective nations and to "love the nation of the other as you love your own." Internationality was soon to become the hallmark of the Movement which was growing rapidly first in Italy, then, beginning in 1952, throughout Europe, and in 1959 on other continents.

Little towns, starting with Loppiano in 1965, together with international meetings, and the use of the media contribute to the formation of people who live for the ideal of a united world.
1967In response to the growing crisis of the family in today’s society, Chiara founded the New Families Movement.

1968 Young people throughout the world are protesting. Beginning in 1966 Chiara Lubich had called on the Focolare youth to live according to the radicalism of the Gospel as an answer to the profound desire for change claimed by young people everywhere. The Gen Movement is born (New Generation). It would later give life to the wider "Youth for a United World" movement (1984).

1970 From the very beginning there have been younger teenagers and children who have made the spirituality of unity their own. The third generation of the Movement which would then become the backbone of the wider "Young for Unity" movement was born.
1977Chiara received the Templeton Prize for progress in religion. The presence of many representatives of other religions at the ceremony signalled the beginning of the Movement’s participation in interreligious dialogue.

1991 During a trip to Brazil, and as a response to the situation of those who live in sub-human conditions in the outskirts of big cities there, Chiara launched a new idea: the "Economy of Sharing in Freedom." This quickly developed in many countries involving hundreds of businesses and giving rise to a new economic system.

1995 Two recognitions which she received from the mayor and the bishop of her native Trent opened a phase of public life directly involving Chiara.

1996 An honorary Degree in Social Sciences from the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland. Professor Adam Biela spoke of her having brought about the "Copernican revolution in the Social Sciences." Since then she has received 12 honorary doctorate degrees in such disciplines as theology, philosophy, psychology, economics and social communications. These were conferred by religious and secular universities in the United States, the Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Italy and Poland.

1996"In an age when ethnic and religious differences too often lead to violent conflict, the expansion of the Focolare Movement has also contributed to a constructive dialogue between persons, generations, social classes and peoples." This is the motivation of the 1996 UNESCO Peace Education Prize, awarded to Chiara in Paris.

1997-99dialogue: Chiara has spoken on numerous occasions encouraging ecumenism, recently in Great Britain (West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council), Germany (Evangelical Church of Remembrance in Berlin) and Austria (Second European Ecumenical Assembly in Graz). Among other recognitions, she has been awarded with the Golden Cross of St. Augustine of Canterbury by Dr. George Carey, Primate of the Anglican Communion, and the Byzantine Cross by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I.
Chiara was the first Christian and the first lay person invited to communicate her spiritual experience to a group of 800 Buddhist monks and nuns in Thailand (January 1997). She has addressed 3,000 African American Muslims in the Malcolm Shabazz Mosque in Harlem, NY (May 1997), and the Jewish community in Buenos Aires (April 1998).

At the United Nations Headquarters in New York, she addressed a symposium entitled, "Toward a Unity of Nations and a Unity of Peoples."
In September 1998 in Strasbourg she received the European Prize for Human Rights awarded by the Council of Europe for her work "in defense of individual and social rights."

Chiara returned to the United States to receive an honorary doctoral degree in Education from The Catholic University of America. A crowd of 4000 witnessed the event which took place in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. “Our Movement and the stages of its development can be viewed as one continuous, extraordinary educational event,” Chiara said in her acceptance address.

On November 12, Chiara addressed a major interreligious event entitled “Faith Communities Together” which drew 7000 to the Washington Convention Center. Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, leader of the two million strong Muslim American Society (MAS), had asked Chiara to address the topic, “A Spirituality of Unity for the Harmonious Living of the Human Family.” William Cardinal Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore, who has actively encouraged the development of the relationship between the Focolare and the MAS, presented to the assembly a message of greetings from Pope John Paul II expressed by Cardinal Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State.

On the vigil of Pentecost 1998, during the meeting of ecclesial movements and new communities with Pope John Paul II, Chiara Lubich described the essence of that something new the Focolare offers. "Holy Father, you identified love as the ‘inspiring spark’ of all that is done under the name of Focolare, and it is really true. It is the driving force of our Movement. Being love and spreading love is our general aim. In fact, the Focolare Movement is called to bring an invasion of love into the world."

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