14.04.1940 – 29.06.2020
“If you are risen with Christ, seek the things that are above” (Col 3:1).
Giorgina was born in Turin on April 14, 1940, into a rich entrepreneurial bourgeoisie family with innovative social sensibilities.
In June ’65, she entered the Focolare in Turin. She wrote the following to Chiara: “This is the first time I am writing to you, but the Ideal has already entered me for more than a year. In these last months, I have received many graces from Mary (I had asked for them with so much faith). She is the one who has paved the way for me to come here and has prepared me little by little so sweetly to be the bride of Jesus Forsaken forever. Chiara, if you want me closer to you, I am ready.”
In January ’66, she left to attend the school of formation of the focolarine in the little city of Loppiano. It caused a sensation at that time that a young, beautiful girl, with many talents and possibilities, would leave everything to follow God in a movement not yet well known.
In January 1967 she wrote to Chiara: “Today I have consecrated myself to Mary Desolate for the first time (I took my first vows) and I ask her for the gift of being able to live it so that God may have greater glory even through me, the very little one in His Work. Chiara, take into your hands my joyful consecration for your Work, for the Church.”
After the school of formation, Giorgina was sent to the Focolare of Foligno. A focolarina who lived with her during this period remembers: “It was difficult to find a job and so we took the commitment of selling the Encyclopedia Sanctorum and Città Nuova. In a small Fiat car, we travelled many kilometers. We had a list of religious institutes, parishes and companies to sell the magazine and the encyclopedia. I remember Giorgina’s faith and courage. Once she entered a company whose owner did not have a good reputation. As soon as he saw her he said to her: “How did you have the courage to come here alone?” But she wasn’t disturbed and when she left she had a check in her hands for the purchase of the encyclopedia.
Beneath our apartment, there was a bar. One of the focolarine, from the terrace moved one foot and inadvertently pushed a bottle that fell on the head of a customer of the bar. Giorgina took him immediately to the hospital and did her best to explain what happened. Giorgina was never out of control and we were always full of energy to continue our adventure. I have a wonderful memory of our unity”.
In 1969, she returned to Loppiano and remained there for 24 years, making her numerous talents available for the development of the little town, in particular for the Ave Art Center, and the formation of the focolarine.
A focolarina who collaborated with her during these years wrote to us: “I accompanied her a few times on her business trips: she had a great faith that sustained the business! Faith in the “invisible partner” as Chiara told us. She had faith and enthusiasm for what she did, aiming at a united world. She always sold our merchandise, even when it seemed impossible. But the relationship with customers was not just a business relationship, it was a relationship with Jesus in others. She built real, lasting relationships, always with total dedication, regardless of fatigue”.
The following testimony reached us: “I have just heard about Giorgina’s departure for Paradise. It is a great loss for me.When my daughter opened a store in 1988 she was our guardian angel.. She followed us in all our situations with a love so great that it moved us. Let us ask her from Heaven, where she certainly is already, to look after us with the same love she gave us in life.
Here are excerpts from a letter to Renata, co-responsible for Loppiano in those years: “At a certain point I asked myself: will it really be possible to build a new society, with new methods and structures? Because Chiara believes it, I also believe it, I want to testify that Jesus Forsaken has filled every void. I could clearly hear the voice of Jesus saying to me: “I will not ask you what you did at the Ave Art Center, but how much you loved me” and I felt my soul free from every worry that seemed Ideal to me but that was not God alone”.
To Chiara: “In these days I have seen again our vocation more and more splendid as an avalanche of love that must invade the world as soon as possible and heal it from so many evils and pains. For me the focolare will never be a form of life but the invention of Our Lady to make us become Jesus and to give Him to the world. I jump with joy and amazement every time I rediscover it”. (Rocca di Papa June 1971)
“It seemed to me a very new grace being in Loppiano and at the same time still have the possibility to build the Earthly Paradise in every detail of the city and with everyone, now made one soul. I understand why the hundredfold is so beautiful and important in our lives; I believe that we will have to bring it down in abundance if we are faithful together in living the Word”. (December 1974)
“The themes on Jesus Forsaken have given me a new, passionate love for the Bridegroom. The only true truth of our life, He who makes us live the wonderful divine adventure fully. It is He who makes me Himself to quench the thirst of the souls that pass by me”. (Christmas 1983)
In December 1993, a new adventure presented itself for Giorgina: the little town of Fontem in Cameroon awaited her.
She wrote to a focolarina on her arrival in Africa: “Of course, arriving in Douala was a hard blow! Because of the heat and the environment I felt as if I were entering nowhere, but after this tunnel, etc., there were the focolarine who were beautiful, smiling and… tired. They drove me to the Focolare and the next morning a volunteer from Fontem took us inland to Fonjumetaw with her big Landrover. It was a discovery to meet the beauty of Africa in nature. The children are beautiful! Smiling, they greet you first, shaking their little hands. I was serene, happy, I felt like I was thrown into a truly divine human adventure. I was not afraid, nor did I feel far away”.
A focolarina who has lived these years with her wrote to us: “When I arrived in Fontem I found Giorgina there, precisely in Fongjumetaw. She had already transformed the small village into a lively one with a thousand initiatives at the service of the parish and the dispensary. She had also found a shrub that produces excellent seeds for making rosaries and found customers all over the world. Girls and women came more and more to these small businesses and there was not only economic development, it was above all human and Christian development. She also knew how to discover the talents of each and every one and made them come out. Many girls, with the money they earned, were able to pay for their studies and now have a profession”.
To Chiara: “While I was flying to Africa, I didn’t feel I was leaving the Center (of the Movement) at all, but I felt I was approaching the Heart certain that I would find you, perhaps because of the love for this continent that you put into us on your journey here? Perhaps as an effect of living the Desolate?” (Fontem July 1994) “I want to live with enthusiasm loving Jesus Forsaken and with the immense joy of walking, here in Africa, where God’s Love wanted me, on the most beautiful road that produces a people of saints. (September 1994)
“Once more Jesus Forsaken appeared very luminous to me, my way, the only way to burn everything and to remain in God’s heart forever. This is what I have chosen: to love Him alone with Mary Desolate to be your popa (focolarina) today and to take humanity around me into the Agape where it is destined every day”. (Easter 1996)
Due to poor health in 2003, Giorgina returned to Italy. Destination: Mariapolis Center, Ray of Light, Bra. At the Mariapolis Center Giorgina continued to live for the whole Movement with all her joy, enthusiasm, and liveliness: New City Magazine, adherents, reception of groups. Fongjumetaw has always remained in her heart; she carried out projects for the development of the nursery school “Baby Jesus” and adoptions at a distance.
She wrote the following to Chiara: “I returned from Fongjumetaw about a year ago and I landed here in the beautiful Mariapolis Center and I am very happy! I felt all the Love of God in this, also living Mary Desolate. Know that I am very united to you and determined to love my brothers and sisters so much that Jesus in the midst can live, work miracles, and give glory to the Father. (Mariapolis Ray of Light Center Bra September 2004).
As the years went by, Giorgina’s health got worse until it became necessary for her to live in a nursing home. This step had not been easy for Giorgina and her companions in the Focolare. After a few months in this new situation, Giorgina writes to Emmaus: “If you would see me, I look great, but the sufferings are daily. Every day I receive the visit of the focolarine who give me so much strength and the desire to live the Ideal, to relaunch myself in the Love for Jesus Forsaken and to love all the people who are with me. I live and offer everything for the Work of Mary”. (Bra November 2017). Emmaus replies: “Thank you very much for your letter. Testify the predilection of Jesus Forsaken for you and your being His bride, adhering with your daily YES to what He asks of you. Mary, who is Mother and Model, sustains you in every step you make and forms you into another little (Mary). Grateful for what you offer for the Work (of Mary), I am close to you with my love and prayers.
Giorgina’s relationship with the Focolare had been constant and daily. She was updated constantly on the whole life of the Opera which gave her so much joy making her feel a living part of it. Often, in the Focolare meetings, she would share what she was living; it was a thought that encompassed her whole life. Here are some of them: “Hello pope, I am happy to be with you and to renew our unity.”; “I only want Jesus in the midst because without him I feel lost”; “To be sincerely what He wants us to be”; “Only with Jesus and for Jesus. This is my desire, that He will always give me the strength to love Him”.
In these days, having heard the news of Giorgina’s departure, many people have wanted to be present with phone calls or by sending us impressions about their relationship with her.
“I was in her Focolare during our formation school ‘76/’78. What I remember about Giorgina was her passion for the Ideal. We always had visitors in the Focolare. I saw her again a few years ago on a visit to Bra and even though forty years had passed she was still the same Giorgina”.
“For me she has been a spiritual mother, example and guide. I will always remember how she swept away the leaves in the courtyard and the streets with the certainty of doing God’s will of the present moment well”.
“You have always lived giving without holding anything back. If you are really just in the other room I hope you can feel my immense gratitude for coming into my life and making it better with your love”.
“I worked many years with Giorgina in Loppiano, my heart is full. Today’s reading of St. Paul seemed to me to express her life: “I fought the good battle, I finished the race…”. I have so much gratitude”.
“Giorgina has been one of the most important personages in my human and faith journey. From the beginning she gave us a passion for beauty, harmony and art and a new way of looking at Christianity, more authentic and concrete, where God’s Love goes beyond human labels or rituals and focuses on the essential. Giorgina was the face of a God who welcomes, an example to follow, a model of an open, concrete and authentic Church that puts the person before every rule, love before everything. A true revolutionary of love”.
To conclude we want to read a poem that a friend of ours had written for her.
TO GIORGINA, THE FOCOLARINA
With the way she does, she makes herself loved by everyone.
She is a very careful woman, she is afraid of nothing.
If she walks and looks up, she always thinks of her Jesus
That perennial smile is Jesus who gave it to her
If something has to be done, she goes to Jesus to pray to him
She walks with awareness, and wants the presence of Jesus.
She wants Jesus nearby to light her way.
Watch the video of the last farewell to Giorgina Quarello.