President Margaret Karram and Co-President Jesús Moran in Loppiano from October 28th to November 2nd. The annual visit is the first for the newly elected president and the first following the long lockdown.

 

It’s true: it was the first time that Margaret Karram arrived in Loppiano as president of the Focolare; however, as a general councilor, she had visited the little city on various occasions in recent years. Jesús Moran, co-president since 2014, had made many such visits over the years. Having had the opportunity to deepen every aspect of the life found there, he had no reason to be surprised. Yet, in the interview granted at the end of their visit, both speak of the surprises they found.

“I did not imagine,” the President immediately admits, “to find so much life, so much passion in people, so much enthusiasm in their eyes.” And she explains why: “I saw that there were new realities in Loppiano. And this is a sign of maturity, but also of creativity and commitment to follow God, because when we follow God new things always come to life.” She then confides a preference: “The reality that I found the newest and most beautiful is the Youth Project. It really took my heart, because it shows how much even today the little city has much to say to young people as well.”

And how do we explain Jesús’ surprise? “I didn’t think I would find so much innovation and so many projects following the phase of the lockdown in which everyone, here too, was confined.” In particular, he was struck “by the commitment to the environment, by a greater ecological sensitivity and by an increased social openness so that Loppiano is the home of all, even of the excluded.” Agreeing with Margaret, Jesús summarized the reason for their amazement in one word: creativity.

Their immersion in the little city was total; meeting with all its components prompted these impressions confided to the new president: “I went from one wonder to another. Every reality can testify that the charism of Chiara Lubich is true.” “If someone does not believe that one can live for God in all aspects of life, it is enough that he comes and stays here, even for just a few days.”

“I lived a relational experience of a unique fullness,” Jesús summarizes, “meeting not only the various realities but also the individual people.” He reiterates that Loppiano is a laboratory of fraternity: “Internationality here is a value, also because it becomes multiculturalism, that is, the exchange of cultures, traditions between people of various Christian confessions and of various religious faiths.” And then, he states, a specific reality here should not be forgotten: “Here there is a university, Sophia, which has a transdisciplinary dimension as one of its purposes and is a place of interpretation of these important processes.” His conclusion is direct: “Whoever has an experience here, even for a few days, becomes a bridge builder, a builder of relationships.” Margaret nods with conviction, adding: “Loppiano is also a laboratory of fraternity between generations, from children to the elderly, without forgetting the presence of people who are ill, an added value.” She continues: “There is also the Theotokos Church. It is a jewel, where one can pray for fraternity and ask to learn how to become more brothers and sisters. It is a place to discover and put at the very heart of the little city.” She adds: “In this way everything becomes an exercise in fraternity.” She is so sure of it, that she states: “This is a unique laboratory in the world.”

Before leaving, they have a wish for the inhabitants. Margaret reflects a moment and says: “Take care of the relationships and ask anyone who arrives, even if for a few days, to bring everything that one is, so as to make a contribution to the little city.” She explains: “There is the joy of living together, there is a sense of family and there is the desire to do many things, but, if the care of relationships is lacking, one can feel weighted down.” To conclude, she recalls a sentence from Chiara: “No soul touches ours in vain.” And proof of this belief is given at the end of the interview. They should already be on their way to Rome, but before leaving, they go to visit Tino and Agnese Piazza, ninety years old, one of the first families of pioneers, who moved to Loppiano to help build the little city.

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