Rosanna Antonazzo, after living in Loppiano for a few years, left for Lecce, where a new home was opened. And the adventure continues…

“Perhaps not many people knew me in Loppiano, because I’m rather reserved. You’d never say that I came from the south of Italy!” This is how focolarina Rosanna Antonazzo introduces herself. For the past two years she had been doing the precious work of caring for and accompanying the oldest focolarinas in Loppiano.   

Now she has left Loppiano for Lecce in southern Italy: “I was immensely happy to accept the proposal to come here to Lecce with Donata and Carla, to open this focolare community. I was born in these parts, in the deep south of Puglia and, when I left, when I left my land and my family to follow the path of the focolarinas, there was only a small local community in Lecce. Small yes, but very lively and enthusiastic like all newborn communities: people who have known the Focolare spirituality for a short while and want to have a local focolare community.”

And what have you found now that you’ve come back?

“I’ve found a lot of growth, many new implementations of the Focolare’s goals. For example? The Chiara Luce Home for Families which welcomes pregnant women and mothers – Italian and foreign – with children in tow or in need. The priest focolare community, a real beacon for many people in this region. The Fraternita a Novoli Prize, which spotlights institutions that help contribute to fraternity. And many other concrete expression of the culture of unity.”

In other words, a living community…

“Very alive! To use an expression of Maria Emmaus Voce, who is the current president of the Focolare Movement. Everyone I look at is a protagonist; nobody is being drawn by the other. For example, when it comes to the new generations, all of the adults are engaged. Entire families offer themselves to convey these values to the little ones.”

So, this is the community that welcomed you all here?

“They’ve been preparing the opening of the focolare community for months. They looked for an apartment and even many of the furnishings: refrigerator, chairs, bedroom sets, cabinets, nightstands. They got to work in a local parish and loaded an Ape car with several pieces of furniture for the new apartment. We even received things that were less indispensable…”

For example?

“I’m a seamstress and I like to sew, I find it quite a creative occupation. But to come up with my “creations” I would have needed a professional iron. I barely got the words out of my mouth, and the next day a person visited me with a professional iron to give me. Not only! A week later I also found work in my field. Someone in the local community introduced me to a tailor who immediately inserted me in her studio, a well-known workshop, overloaded with requests. But what struck me the most was the day I presented myself at work, the lady had tears in her eyes and said: “I don’t practice a religion, but I believe that there’s someone up there who listens to us. I really needed someone to help me and you arrived!”

So, you began right away! Yes, and it’s incredible when you think of how hard it is to find a job nowadays…

“Thank God the house we live in is so big and has room for me to do my work. The lady, two days later, came to me with a lot of work and said to me: “You know, yesterday when my husband saw me come home from work and said to me I looked different, he wanted to know what had happened. I told him that I had met you and you were the answer for me.”

So, you’re having what Chiara liked to call the Divine Adventure.

“We constantly feel accompanied by God’s love. Every day something arrives. Of course, it’s the immeasurable love of these people, but for us it’s also a confirmation for us that God wants us to be here, giving our lives for this portion of humanity, for the people who live in this faraway and beautiful strip of Italian land. You can’t tell whether we’re supporting them or the other way around. It makes quite an impression on me to see that the fraternity that we experienced in Loppiano is also happening right here, expressed in a different way, but the same thing, what we live for and want to give witness to. And to do it, all we need is our daily life, our everyday relationships with our neighbors, the landlord, the shopkeepers, the parishioners…”

So, Loppiano is like a beating heart and the experience of fraternity that you have there is multiplied and amplified in every corner of the world as its inhabitants move around. Good luck to Rosanna and to the local Focolare community in Lecce!

Donata and Rosanna
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