Rosa Bruna and Alessandro Agostini, inhabitants of the Little City, tell us about their commitment to bring the culture of unity into the political and educational sphere. With passion, they have been working for years in these two spheres.
Rosa Bruna De Pasquale and her husband, Alessandro Agostini, have lived in Loppiano for about ten years now. Both are retired, but they don’t live as retirees. Rosa Bruna worked in the Provveditorato agli Studi di Firenze (office that provided for the needs of all the public schools of Florence) and, after an experience in Parliament, she joined the Ministry of Education, as Head of Department of the University including Research. Alessandro, on the other hand, has been an entrepreneur, has also dealt with politics and is now President of the Center for Courses & Future Studies.
But how did they get to Loppiano? “I am originally from Umbria – says Alessandro – and when I met the Focolare Movement as a young man, I was fascinated by the idea of building a united world, so much so that I wanted to dedicate my whole life to this ideal. So I joined the Focolare to become a focolarino”.
“I too – continues Rosa Bruna – in the ’80s lived an exciting period with the Gen of Messina. We were few and always as protagonists in carrying on all the activities of the Movement. So it seemed natural to me to ask to join the Focolare as a focolarina. However, for the period of formation in Loppiano, I realized that this was not my way”.
Meanwhile Alessandro, in 1983, left the Focolare because of serious family reasons, difficulties and misunderstandings even within the Movement.
After a few years, Rosa Bruna and Alessandro got to know each other and gradually understood that they wanted to build a family together. Now they have three children and one small granddaughter.
“Since I’ve been working in the field of education,” explains Rosa Bruna, “I try to put relationships at the basis of everything. I have always tried to involve everyone in the decisions I had to make. At the start of the school directors’ meetings, I would always put a premise: “Love each other’s school as your own”. This was enough to avoid or overcome so many conflicts! When I then entered Parliament, I was aware that I was only a representative of citizens who commanded. For me it was not a job, but an all-round service. For this reason I tried never to lose the connection with the territory, that is Tuscany. Of course, I thought that being in Parliament could influence much more, but unfortunately, I found myself in the midst of many people who were only thinking about re-election 5 years later. However, I managed to do some things and I have always tried to respect the pact between the elected and the voter of which the Political Movement for Unity speaks. For example, I had about ten thousand addresses of people who I kept periodically informed about my activities in Parliament and every year I printed a booklet summarizing my work”.
In Rosa Bruna’s story, it is striking that she often uses the plural, as if in Montecitorio (where the Parliament is) she and Alessandro were entering it together.
“I am an entrepreneur – adds Alessandro – but very soon I approached politics through the political party, Italia dei Valori.. I have often collaborated with the Political Movement for Unity and it is true that Rosa and I have fought many battles together.
“When I arrived at the Ministry, as Head of the Department, I first of all tried to make the most of all the talents, even hidden skills that I would dig out among all the collaborators. So much so that, when I left, many of them told me they had lived an exciting experience, because they had felt they were actors of change”.
“At that time – Alessandro continues – we wanted to know more of “service learning”, started by a volunteer from Argentina, which combines Service (citizenship, solidarity actions and volunteering for the community) and Learning (the acquisition of professional, methodological, social and especially educational skills), so that students could develop their knowledge and skills through a service in solidarity with the community.
Alessandro and Rosa Bruna, in short, could write a book… every stage of their life is marked by those “coincidences”, “providential situations” that makes one think of an external control…
Alessandro explains: “The interesting thing is that there is a design on us. That is, if you follow God, regardless of whether you are in the Focolare or not, but put yourself in the dimension of His following and accept the changes of program, of situation, you realize that everything is led by love. I have always been struck by Chiara’s expression, which I prefer to quote literally “Look at the sun and its rays. The sun is a symbol of the will of God, which is God himself. The rays are the will of God for each individual. Walk toward the sun in the light of your ray, different and distinct from every other ray, and fulfill the particular, wonderful plan God wants from you. There is an infinite number of rays, all coming from the same sun: a single will, particular for each person. The closer the rays come to the sun, the closer they come to one another. We too, the closer we come to God, by doing the will of God more and more perfectly, the closer we come to one another. Until we are all one.” I really like this metaphor, because it expresses a deep respect for the person and then because Chiara doesn’t stop you, on the contrary she pushes you to walk on that ray, because at a certain point you will find yourself with many others. Since I left the Focolare, this idea of walking on the ray that God had traced for me has always given me peace. And now I can say that the fact of having landed at Loppiano is a hundredfold and I understand better that phrase of Jesus that Chiara pointed out to me as a compass for my life: “My food is to obey the will of the one who sent me and to finish the work he gave me to do.” (Jn 4:34)”.
“If you carry ahead so many things – Rosa Bruna intervenes – it is not because you have special skills, but because everything interests you. In the coming days, in Mugello, we will work on a project of active citizenship: it is an IT platform that brings together the diagnosis on the territory, in particular on the school, with the shortcomings highlighted by BES which stands for “Benessere Equo e Sostenibile” (Fair and Sustainable Wellness) BES is an index, developed by ISTAT and CNEL, to evaluate the progress of a society not only from an economic point of view, as for example GDP does, but also social and environmental, accompanied by measures of inequality and sustainability ndr.”
“We realize – Alessandro concludes – that the more you open yourself to others, the more you become aware of your own identity. After all, we have always said that it is by giving that you receive! I think that in this period of great difficulty, Loppiano has a very significant role to play. For example, we are dreaming and studying the possibility of transforming Loppiano into an “energy community”, a new proposal at an Italian level: associations between citizens, businesses or companies that decide to join forces to equip themselves with facilities for the production and sharing of energy from renewable sources. We are rolling up our sleeves, because that passion for the united world that we had when we were young, has remained intact and it is still burning!”