On October 15 and 16, a two-day open doors in Montet to celebrate 40 years of the Swiss Focolare citadel.
Montet, a small village in the Broye, French Switzerland, is home to Montet, a small village in the Broye, French Switzerland, is home to “Mariapolis Foco,” one of the citadels of the Focolare Movement; it was founded here in 1981. Like Loppiano, it has the stamp of internationality and a vocation for formation. Approximately 100 people from 35 different nationalities currently live there. Fifty percent are young people who arrive for a one-year period of formation; the other half are adults who reside there permanently, ensuring the continuity of the experience. This mix that gives rise to a very dynamic and rich, intergenerational and intercultural reality.
The weekend of October 15 and 16, the citadel of Montet threw its doors wide open to say “thank you” for its first 40 years of its existence. For the occasion, friends arrived from all over Switzerland and beyond, helping to enrich the various moments of the event with their testimonies. They were representatives of those approximately 3,700 people from 118 different countries who, over the past 40 years, have lived in Montet. Today, many of them are on the front lines in their own countries, helping to sow fraternity in different fields of action – from economics to politics, from the arts to education – supporting processes of personal, family and social transformation, fruit of the evangelical love when embodied in different situations.
Like Renzo, an Italian, who, after the Focolarini School of Formation in Montet, landed in Manaus, Brazil. Touched by the extreme poverty, he became involved, with others, in the “Pastoral do Povo de Rua.” Every Sunday evening, he reaches the cathedral square, a place very crowded during the day and dangerous at night, to help with the celebration of the Word and the distribution of meals to the homeless. Reydibel, a Venezuelan now in Hungary, recalls the unity she experienced during her year of formation in Montet with the Pentecostal Church in Avanches: a mutual enrichment, of deep communion that continues on in the citadel’s relations. André Heeren, a resident of Montet, works on the “EPIC” Project for the prevention, reduction and/or resolution of conflicts in families and small social groups. It is a European Community-funded project involving the Focolare Movement in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Slovakia. Hung, an artist from Loppiano, also participated, revealing that his iron sculptures were actually born in Montet, in 1989, thanks to the encouragement of a blacksmith friend, of Polish origin. A few years ago, the chapel in Montet was entirely created by him.
The celebrations also drew the mayor of Les Montets, M. Cédric Péclard, and Pastor Martin Robra (former director of the Ecumenical Council of Churches) to the citadel, testifying to a synergy in working together, for the good of all humanity.
Margaret Karram, current president of the Focolare Movement, unable to be present, sent her own message, in which she stated, among other things, “I am with you in praising God for the gifts he has given us. A special thought in this celebration certainly goes to Chiara, to Igino Giordani-Foco, to Don Foresi. And to Palmira Frizzera, a tireless pioneer. […] These are unique “tesserae” that have made an irreplaceable contribution to the composition of this mosaic, fruit of the donation and fidelity to the life and spirit that one wishes to offer to the world around us. Because a place that has fraternity as its law is a sign of hope for so many.”
At the conclusion of the two-day event, an ecumenical prayer was celebrated, led together by Pastor Stéphan Baehler de l’Eglise Apostolique évangélique d’Avenches, Pastor Marion Moser of the Paroisse Réformée d’Estavayer-le-Lac and Jean Louis Hote, a Catholic priest. The fraternity and gratitude to the one Father was tangible in the final prayer of the Our Father.
After these days of celebration, what remains, they write from Montet, is: “The collective awareness of being a family. A family united by the same life that, day after day, with the difficulties always inherent in living together, but strong in mutual love, knows how to walk together.” “A luminous Gospel,” someone wrote in the attendance album, a Gospel that, if lived, knows how to respond to the needs of the man and woman of today.