Written by Sherry
Friday, 14 March 2008 06:03
Chiara Lubich, founder of Focolare and one of the great pioneers of the lay apostolate, died today. Chiara founded the Focolare movement at the age of 22 in the midst of World War II. She was 88.
Per Asia News:
“All day yesterday” – continues the release, – “hundreds of people - relatives, close collaborates and her spiritual children – passed through her room to bid her a final farewell, before gathering in the nearby chapel, and around the house in prayer. An uninterrupted and spontaneous procession. To some, Chiara was even able to signal understanding, despite her extreme weakness”.
After a period of hostility and difficulty with the ecclesial hierarchy of the time, in 1964 Chiara was received for the first time by the Pope, then Paul VI, who recognised the movement as "A work of God”. From then on private and public papal audiences – with Paul VI and then John Paul II – multiplied, as well as their interventions during international events.
The Focolare Movement, founded in Trent, Italy, in 1943, is present today in 182 nations and reaches over 5 million people. Focolare means “hearth” or “family fireside.”
Chiara Lubich, together with a small group of friends, realized that God is the only ideal worth living for and as a result they focused their lives on the Gospel. Many others followed. Their goal became one of striving towards the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer to the Father: “May they all be one” (Jn 17:21).
Through its 18 branches and 6 mass movements the Focolare spirituality is having an impact on family life, the youth world and on all areas of ecclesial and secular life.
Focolare has given birth to :
33 little cities throughout the world strive to be a sample of a society renewed by the Gospel message of unity. In the United States the little city Mariapolis Luminosa is located in Hyde Park, New York.
The Abba School is an interdisciplinary study center for an elaboration of scholarly disciplines.
The Economy of Communion in Freedom, based on a culture of giving, is an innovative economic proposal now encompassing close to 800 businesses in the world.
The Movement for Unity in Politics, present in over 40 countries, is an association of politicians who, in unity across party lines, put the common good first.
Over 1,000 social programs are active worldwide.
27 publishing houses produce books and magazines.
Centers for the arts and media are inspired by “God as Beauty.”
Pray for her and for all whom God has blessed through her life. Well done, good and faithful servant.
Update: Here is the text of Pope Benedict's telegraph to the Focolare Movement:
Pope's message on death of Chiara Lubich
The Holy Father has sent a telegram to Fr Oreste Basso, co-president of the Focolari Movement, for the death at the age of 88 of the movement's founder Chiara Lubich. The text of the telegram is given below.
"With deep emotion I learned the news of the pious death of Ms Chiara Lubich, which came at the end of a long and fruitful life marked by her tireless love for the abandoned Jesus. At this moment of painful separation I remain affectionately and spiritually close to her relatives and to the entire Work of Mary - the Focolari Movement which began with her - and to those who appreciated her constant commitment for communion in the Church, for ecumenical dialogue and for fraternity among all peoples. I thank the Lord for the witness of her life, spent in listening to the needs of modern man in complete faithfulness to the Church and to the Pope. And, as I commend her soul to divine goodness that she may be welcomed in the bosom of the Father, I hope that those who knew and met her, admiring the wonders that God achieved through her missionary ardour, may follow her footsteps and keep her charism alive. With such sentiments, I invoke the maternal intercession of Mary and willingly impart my apostolic blessing to everyone".
We'd love to hear from those who have had direct contact with the Foccolare movement or Chiara Lubich.
As the 19th century evangelist, Dwight L. Moody, was fond of saying: "The world has not yet seen what God will do through the life of a man or woman who is wholly consecrated to Him." And then he would always add:
"By the grace of God, I will be that man."
Chiara Lubich, and my friend Natalia about whom I wrote yesterday, and so many others have dared to answer that challenge with their lives. We have seen it. We are seeing it.
But the question remains as we move into Holy Week: Are others seeing it in us?