The Focolare Movement
The Focolare Movement is spread in all five continents, like a tiny nation of different races, cultures and languages. People from different walks of life and social status, Christian traditions, different religions and beliefs tend to be the seed of more solidary and a more united world.
The basic information about the movement
This movement of unity and universal brotherhood begins in the maelstrom of hatred and violence of the World War II. In 1943, Chiara Lubich rediscovers the Gospel with her friends in Trent. They live it together in their everyday life, starting their work in the poorest parts of the city. Thus both their personal and community life takes on a qualitative leap. This first group soon becomes a Movement which spreads first in Italy, then in Europe and throughout the world. A new current of spirituality based on evangelical love is started, out of which a movement of spiritual and social renewal springs up: the spirituality of unity, with an emphasized mark of togetherness.
A new lifestyle emerges from it as well. Inspired by Christian principles – without neglecting, but, moreover, emphasizing parallel values of other religions and cultures – it responds to general questions about the meaning and authenticity of life and contributes to peace and unity in the world: prejudices are eliminated, and the seed of truth and love which exists in different cultures turns into mutual enrichment; new views in various social environments such as culture, politics, economics, art etc. are appearing.
By living this spirituality in different environments and cultures, numerous fruitful dialogues were opened in the Catholic world, among individuals, groups, movements and organizations, contributing to the achievement of unity – among Christians of different Churches so that all contribute to full mutual communion among believers of different religions and people of other beliefs. They are going together towards that fullness of truth and the overall brotherhood to which we all aspire. Although we all live the same spirituality, due to differences of people who comprise the movement – and these are young people, adults, children, families and priests, monks and nuns of various congregations and bishops – the Movement is divided into 27 branches. Little by little, there have been concrete achievements. For example, in the field of culture, it is Abba school; in economics it is the economy of communion project which includes more than 700 companies etc. Towns of testimonies have been developed, the work on social plan has multiplied, publishing houses are opened, books and newspapers have been printed etc.
Focolare Movement belongs to the phenomenon of flourishing of ecclesial movements, which the Pope called “the response of the Holy Spirit to the dramatic challenges at the end of the second millennium”.
The movement had already been approved by the Holy See in 1962, and due to its continuous development and growth it was again confirmed in 1990. But last modifications and approval of the general Statute of the Focolare Movement was carried out in 2007. It was followed by different approvals by Orthodox Churches, Anglican and Evangelical church, other religions, as well as many cultural and international bodies.
The Focolare Movement in Serbia
The first seeds of this new spirituality found fertile ground in our territory in the sixties of last century. Women’s Focolare movement was opened in Subotica in 1976, and it moved to Belgrade in 1978. Men’s Focolare movement opened in Novi Sad in 1977 and was run until 1985, when it moved to Zagreb again. From then on, this living cell of the laity in virginity is the heart that lives and supports communities and individuals – from Belgrade and Vojvodina, to Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo. Members of the Movement spend numerous Saturdays and Sundays traveling to different cities, overcoming distances and boundaries, and then felt strongly how the wave of love they gave inevitably returns. In 1987, the presence of Mary’s work in Belgrade was enriched by the Focolare priest; among others, Reverend Jože Hauptman came here.
The priests who live in the spirit of the Movement meet every week to share their experiences in the family atmosphere and find strength for all the difficulties they face so that they can joyfully engage in the construction of the local Church. Their contribution in all aspects of work is inevitable. The arrival of the family Snoj from Slovenia to Belgrade in 1989 was a great support. Snoj spouses cared for married couples in a special way and groups of families were spontaneously born in many cities in a short period of time.
While it was attempted, in silence and without noise, to restore life in people of different callings in the Work during old political system, in recent years we have witnessed how God opens avenues for us to get in touch with many representatives of social life, who, in the ideas of the Movement, find an answer to aspirations they carry in their heart so we can spread the network of community together and give a new face to the environment in which we live.
Several large gatherings were organized with this aim, such as, for example, an event “Together for Europe” in Sava Center, Belgrade, 2004 and in 2005, a family festival called Family fest in Novi Sad, which brought together 1,300 participants!
Traditional joint vacation in the monastery of St. Nicholas called Marijapoli Sokograd represents a special experience of unity in diversity. It becomes a place of dialogue where about 200 participants of different religious beliefs, nationality, of all ages and professions get to know each other through walks in the hills, conversations, round-tables meetings, workshops etc.
The latest news is that Men’s Focolar movement “returned” to Belgrade in 2008. The movement consists of three Focolars for now due to growth of many local communities, particularly in Vojvodina.
The official website for Focolare Movement in Serbia: www.fokolar.rs