Doctorate, First Communion and the beacon of light that is Maité

15 Jun 2023 | Life, Stories

Luiz and Renata Scarpino at Loreto School for families. They arrived from Brazil in August 2022 with their three children. Little Maité has been a great gift of light to all the residents.

A fine academic achievement for Luiz Scarpino on Monday, May 29th: the Brazilian lawyer earned his doctorate at Sophia University Institute, discussing his thesis on “Democracy and Fake News in the Brazilian Electoral Process,” in co-tutorship with the University of Ribeirao Preto, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, where Luiz is professor of Law and Communications. The previous day, Sunday, May 28th, daughter Liz, 10, received her First Communion. valuable milestones in their stay at Loreto School for Families, together with his wife, Renata, and their twin children, Maité and Luca, 6.

It all began in December of 2020, when Luiz enrolled at Sophia in preparation for a doctorate. Last year, the opportunity arose to also attend the Loreto School; Luiz and Renata decide to do something unheard of: they sell their house and cars, donate many things to those in need, and the rest they tuck into a 9-cubic-meter storage facility. On August 27, 2022, the Scarpino family arrives at Loppiano for a period of six months, a timeline which will later be extended: “We felt a strong desire to learn more and therefore to stay longer,” they explain. Their final departure for Brazil would become July 8th.

Their first impression of Loppiano? «L’esuberanza della vita multiculturale – sintetizza Luiz –. Un’esperienza autentica, anche per le inevitabili sfide». Renata adds, “I immediately discovered what it meant to live with families from various parts of the world, to be open to other cultures and to experience the sense of family.” Renata came to know Chiara Lubich’s spirituality while still a child. In 2005 she met Luiz; she was 19; he 23. She invited him to a Gen Rosso concert in São Paulo and the charism of unity illuminates their engagement. In 2010 they marry. Renata is an elementary school teacher with a great love for children.

Yet a life-changing event suspends her teaching: twins are born and they discover that Maité has a rare and severe neurodegenerative syndrome, which affects her motor functions, including speech. “According to science,” Luiz and Renata recount, “life expectancy was two years. At the time of diagnosis, Maité was one year and six months old. It was an excruciating pain. We experienced great abandonment, but we were able to embrace the pain as an experience of spiritual rebirth.” One secret: “We learned the true meaning of ‘living in the present moment,’ because we did not know how many more days we would have our daughter.”

Since then, Luiz and Renata have promoted initiatives in favor of people with disabilities. They got the administration of their city to approve the so-called “Maité Law,” which establishes better conditions of accessibility to public events for people with disabilities. Renata heads the “ABIC” project, an acronym that stands for “Play as Social Inclusion,” which promotes socio-educational practices for children, with and without disabilities. Renata has also written a book” The Amazing Maze” – currently being translated into Italian – on the social inclusion of people with disabilities. Both of them also started, together with friends from the Focolare Movement, the association “Inpacto” to assist the poor and those living in favelas.

What has Loppiano been like for your children? “They have grown a lot and we see that they have been brought closer and closer to God through brothers and sisters, with the naturalness and purity appropriate to their ages. It helps them to feel that we are one big family here.” And for Maité? “She senses that she is very much loved. She has become a point of unity among everyone. She speaks only with her eyes, but she is very expressive. When she comes, everyone’s love is manifested. In these months Maité has developed physically and emotionally. For us, it has been a profound joy.”

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