Loppiano during the coronavirus pandemic

10 Apr 2020 | Life

Many of our readers and friends have asked us how we live this quarantine time in Loppiano, what has changed, what we miss. In this article, we would like to share a bit of our life at such an original time.

Rare are the cars that cross the hilly plateau where Loppiano rises, above Incisa Valdarno. Stranger yet is the absence of pedestrians. Nature, after the snow of the last few weeks, has begun to be reborn, continuing its spring blossoms of life. While quarantine does not allow anyone to put their nose out of the house, it does not prevent the lively gathering of life in hiding, in houses, families, schools, and fireplaces. During this original Lent, in Loppiano people continue to study, to work, to pray, to share everything, trying, as always, to deserve the presence of Jesus: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst” (cf. Mt 18:20).

We are living the experience of the cloister, a bit like in all of Italy,” says seraphic Redi Maghezani, a focolarino priest who has lived in Loppiano for about twelve years. “In the morning many of us wake up with Pope Francis’ mass followed by the different occupations: work, study, cooking, cleaning. At noon, we stop for “Time Out” a short prayer for peace, proposed by the young people. Recently, we have also added a special intention for the Coronavirus patients, doctors and nurses… Then, in the evening we connect via streaming, to pray together, to reflect on current issues, to share our experiences, what we have lived.  The priests continue to celebrate the Eucharist without an assembly: “Every day we celebrate mass without you but precisely with you, by being one in Him,” shared one of them on the social networks.

The desire to bring God’s immense love, which Chiara called the “Ideal”, to so many people, has not been extinguished despite the civil seclusion. There is a desire to bring it also in an extremely concrete way.

The activities of Fantasy and Conto Terzi Loppiano have been converted to producing masks.  Fantasy is a company that has been producing textile products for children since 1965, and Conto Terzi Loppiano carries out production in the field of packaging, wrapping and finishing on behalf of third parties. “We are responding to a providential request from the Tuscany Region which has asked us to produce 100,000 masks by the end of April – explains Luisa Colombo who, together with Marco Barlucchi, is responsible for the project “masks” of Loppiano. It is providential because our companies, since the end of February, with the global crisis triggered by the pandemic had suffered a sharp drop in sales. The new organization of work has led to a discreet upheaval in the pace of life here, particularly in the schools of formation based in Loppiano, but everyone has responded to the challenge with great participation and willingness. The work is organized on two 5-hour shifts, with only 30 people each, to comply with safety regulations. So, thanks to the collaboration of many citizens of Loppiano, we can produce from 5,000 to 6,000 masks per day. It is a way to give our contribution to the country and to what the whole of humanity is experiencing,” explains Luisa Colombo, “and we are acting in collaboration with many other realities of the third sector. A beautiful network of collaboration with the surrounding territory has also been created. Thanks to word of mouth, many friends, aunts, relatives of some citizens of Loppiano, have made themselves available by dusting off their sewing machines and their talents, with great participation, seizing the opportunity to give a hand.

On the other hand, Gen Rosso and Gen Verde continue their live Youtube concerts from their respective sites  To make everyone feel their closeness like one big family this will continue throughout the quarantine period.

The different programs, the lessons in the international schools of the Focolare have not been interrupted. The only difference is the various lecturers that appear on the monitors of the halls, also in live streaming. In the same way, the activities and lessons of Sophia University Institute continue. “Sophia, like every university, has not stopped! On the contrary, it is also trying to give value to this moment by experimenting and putting into practice new teaching strategies with its specific characteristics: interdisciplinarity and dialogue. And so the seminars are transformed into “webinars” that can also be followed from a distance!”, members of Sophia write.

And, speaking of online seminars, Lionello Bonfanti Industrial Park has not missed a Wednesday evening, with its cultural webinars to deepen the social implications of this pandemic through the various disciplines (education, economics, political science, etc.),

In short, life in Loppiano has changed a lot at the time of the Coronavirus pandemic, and deep down, a new awareness has come about.

In the very year in which we celebrate the centenary of Chiara Lubich’s birth, the words with which she often began the story of the birth of the Movement resound most vividly: “It was wartime, and everything collapsed...”. Even today many things seem to be collapsing: programs, prospects, certainties, economic security; many are losing their lives. But just a few weeks ago, in the worldwide link-up that unites all the members of the Movement in the world, we listened again to Chiara’s words, pronounced 33 years ago, but are very up-to-date: “God wants us to believe in his love and asks us to trust in Him: […] He wants us to take advantage of these painful circumstances to show him that we believe in his love. And this means: to have faith that he is Father and thinks of us. And therefore, to throw all our worries on him. […] All these worries, anxieties, fears, block our soul, close it on itself and prevent it from opening itself to God by doing His will and to our neighbor by making us one with them to love them properly”.

Also in Loppiano the commitment to love was renewed.  It is a commitment that does not allow this most painful situation to prevent us from doing so. This feeling that we are all in the same boat, pushes us, even more, to live for universal brotherhood.
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