This is the wish that Chiara Lubich gave to Rina Nembrini and Zaccaria among the first families who moved from Bergamo to Loppiano in the late 60s. The history of the pioneers of Loppiano continues.

Rina: We were married in 1958, with the desire to have children and raise them as Christians, and also the dream of building a house soon, since Zaccaria was a bricklayer and carpenter.

It was 1966. Zaccaria had a good job at the municipality of Bergamo. Our dream, after many sacrifices, had become reality: we lived in Mozzo, in a beautiful house we had just built, and we already had three children – 7, 6 and 2 years.

I got to know Loppiano by pure chance. Sister Faustina, of our parish, invited us to a trip to Florence. I went with my sister, while Zaccaria stayed home with the children. On the bus, as soon as I heard the songs being sung (they were songs of Gen Rosso), I was deeply moved. Every word was life, true life … I wept all day long …

I had hoped to go to the city of arts and instead the goal was Loppiano, to know the art of loving. I remember a sign which read “Via Popolo di Dio” (Street of the People of God) and the reception of a group of young people who played, sang and talked about their experiences. It was like a lightning bolt had hit me, a truly amazing thing; there I discovered God Love.

I had lived in a Christian family, but those testimonies were a great, new light for me, for my whole life. They said “to see Jesus in the other” in every neighbor. At that moment I remembered a person in my town who turned around every time she met me… I felt strongly that I should start with her and I asked Mary to give me the grace to live like that!

My parents and I had a lot of arguments and our relationships were not serene. I was convinced that they had wronged me … That day I realized that it was me that had to change.

Zaccaria saw me come home deeply moved and ask me what had happened. “You must also know those people,” I repeated. But he did not look very enthusiastic … Then Tino and Agnese Piazza, whom I got to know on the bus, had come to live in Mozzo. Zaccaria met them and was invited to attend a meeting of the Focolare Movement in Rome.

My first experience with Zaccaria was to apologize to my parents and bring peace back among us! We had learned to forgive, what a great happiness it was!

Nembrini Family

Zaccaria: That meeting in Rome had been decisive for me; I met wonderful people and I had been conquered. A new road opened in front of me. Our house had been the first place in my heart, I had longed for it. But now that the light of this ideal had come into our lives, we did not talk about anything else, everything else had disappeared.

In February I was back in Rome and we came for a day in Loppiano. What I had found in Rome I had seen lived concretely in this town. I fell in love with Loppiano and inside of me I wanted to come and live here. I inquired if there were families living here! There were none … then it could not be the place for me. I was sure I would not be back, so that when Tino asked me if I wanted to go to work with him in the construction company, I told him no, twice. But one day, for the third time, the proposal came up again.

Rina and I spoke about this deeply. Loppiano’s light attracted us. A “city of Mary” was being born, like Chiara Lubich, who we started to know, had imagined already in the 50s. Was it really true that what we found was worth more than things, the house, more than anything else? We had to be truly sincere. It was in the plans of God that families also went to live in this town! Rina and I, received this invitation as a call from God, a special plan for our family. For three months we evaluated the pros and cons that this choice involved

We were living the Gospel and the Word of Life of those days made us decide: ‘Look at the lilies of the field … You are worth much more.’ Everyone told us that we were crazy to leave with three children … but that sentence of Jesus took away our fears. We did it for God and for the town that was being born. And then we wanted so much to raise our children Christianly! We felt urged by Our Lady asking us to give her a hand. Saying ‘yes’ meant to take our suitcases and leave …! We said that ‘yes’. She had won.

Rina: Zaccaria arrived in Loppiano on March 15, 1967, to begin work. In July, during the school holidays, I also joined him with our three children: Marinetta, Nicoletta and Gabriele. We came in a bus with Tino and Agnes Piazza and their six children.

We were camping a bit, but all the kids were happy. The days of returning were upon us, and all together the children said that they had gone to Jesus: “Tell our parents that we want to stay in Loppiano!” This was a confirmation for us to stay.!

The adventure started! For five months we lived together with the Piazza Family The houses were all old and rundown: little light, little water – it had to be pumped into the yard – no bathrooms. We had to wash everything by hand.

In October 1968, Aurelia was born (we named her in memory of a twenty-two-year-old focolarino,Aurelio, who had just gone to heaven because of an accident) and then we moved to Torricella [like the family Piazza and the family of Luigi, the brother of Agnese ]. We were still without heating, only with small stoves, and it was so cold. In short, the discomforts continued, it was truly a life of pioneers. Thanks to God, none of our family had gone into crisis.

Every now and then when Chiara came, she would meet us all at the College. Her greetings and her words supported us. It was very strong for me when she talked about Jesus Forsaken. Years later I felt I had to thank her, giving everything I had in my heart. I wrote to her asking her for a word of life for me to be able to live better the hardships I had. With great joy I received her reply with a phrase from St.Paul: “Let’s keep moving on the same line” (Phil 3: 16). And she assured me that she would ask Mary to “carry me further ahead in Love, so that Loppiano would be more and more, also for your contribution, the City where God is visible”. This is a gift that would accompany me for the rest of my life.

Having chosen Loppiano helped me and Zaccaria in our relationship with God, opening our souls to humanity and we can say that we have received the “hundredfold” promised by Jesus.

Rina with Chiara

«Zaccaria arrived in Loppiano on March 15, 1967, to begin work. In July, during the school holidays, I also joined him with our three children: Marinetta, Nicoletta and Gabriele. We came in a bus with Tino and Agnes Piazza and their six children.

We were camping a bit, but all the kids were happy. The days of returning were upon us, and all together the children said that they had gone to Jesus: “Tell our parents that we want to stay in Loppiano!” This was a confirmation for us to stay.!

The adventure started! For five months we lived together with the Piazza Family The houses were all old and rundown: little light, little water – it had to be pumped into the yard – no bathrooms. We had to wash everything by hand.

In October 1968, Aurelia was born (we named her in memory of a twenty-two-year-old focolarino,Aurelio, who had just gone to heaven because of an accident) and then we moved to Torricella [like the family Piazza and the family of Luigi, the brother of Agnese ]. We were still without heating, only with small stoves, and it was so cold. In short, the discomforts continued, it was truly a life of pioneers. Thanks to God, none of our family had gone into crisis.

Every now and then when Chiara came, she would meet us all at the College. Her greetings and her words supported us. It was very strong for me when she talked about Jesus Forsaken. Years later I felt I had to thank her, giving everything I had in my heart. I wrote to her asking her for a word of life for me to be able to live better the hardships I had. With great joy I received her reply with a phrase from St.Paul: “Let’s keep moving on the same line” (Phil 3: 16). And she assured me that she would ask Mary to “carry me further ahead in Love, so that Loppiano would be more and more, also for your contribution, the City where God is visible”. This is a gift that would accompany me for the rest of my life.

Having chosen Loppiano helped me and Zaccaria in our relationship with God, opening our souls to humanity and we can say that we have received the “hundredfold” promised by Jesus.

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