Focolare 70 Years After Chiara Lubich's Encounter With the God of Love

Author: ZENIT


Work of Mary (Focolare Movement)

Founded Amid World War II


Here is the description of the Work of Mary which appears in the Directory of International Associations of the Faithful, published by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

* * *

Official name: Work of Mary

Also known as: Focolare Movement

Established: 1943

History: At the beginning of the 1940s, in the climate of hatred and violence of the Second World War, Chiara Lubich — a young elementary schoolteacher in Trent, her native city, whose thirst for truth had led her to enroll at the Philosophy Faculty of Venice University — discovered God is the only ideal which endures when everything else is falling down.

With her first companions, in the shelters during air raids, she only took the Gospels with her. She was to write later that "those words seemed to be enlightened with a new light."

God is love. In the commandment to love one another, they discovered the heart of the Gospel; in the testament of Jesus "that they all may be one," they found the divine plan for universal unity and the purpose of their life; in the crucified Jesus who called out that his Father had abandoned him, they found the secret for the building of unity everywhere.

From their experience of the Gospel lived in daily life, a specific communitarian spirituality emerged, which gave rise to the Focolare Movement.

In 1948, Lubich met Igino Giordani, member of Parliament, a writer, journalist and pioneer of ecumenism. Recognized as the co-founder thanks to the contribution that he made to the embodiment of the spirituality of unity in the social environment, he was to be the first married Focolarino.

Father Pasquale Foresi is also recognized as co-founder, and is the first Focolarino priest, who made a major contribution to the introduction of theological studies into the movement, founding the Città Nuova publishing house and the Cittadella at Loppiano.

On June 29, 1990, the Pontifical Council for the Laity decreed recognition of the Work of Mary (the Focolare Movement) as an international association of the faithful of pontifical right.

Identity: The Work of Mary was given this name because of its particular link with the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ and of all men and women, of whom it wishes to be a reflection on earth, as far as possible.

The Marian nature of the movement is institutionally expressed in terms of its presidency, which is lay and female. The variety of people that belong to it, its worldwide spread, its purposes and the works that it undertakes, all to a certain extent reflect the universality of the Church.

Its specific feature is the pursuit of the ideal of unity which gives it its spirit, its aims, its structure and its government.

This is why it is committed to working for ever greater unity between the faithful of the Catholic Church; to establish communion and a common testimony with other Christian brothers and sisters in order to restore full unity; to achieve, through dialogue and common activities together with people of other religions, union in God among all believers, as the way of enabling them to come to know Christ; to engage in dialogue with people of good will and to work together with them for common purposes, to strengthen universal brotherhood throughout the whole world and to open up their hearts to Christ.

Organization: The movement is governed by the General Assembly, and the Centro dell'Opera, comprising the president, co-president and vicar, and the general councilors.

The movement is divided into zones, with their own management bodies which answer to the Centro dell'Opera.

At the heart of the Focolare Movement are "focolare centers" for men and women who live life in common or married life.

An integral part of the Movement are the branches for diocesan priests and deacons, volunteers, and gens (children and young people), and gen's (young men with a vocation to the priesthood), religious, and bishops who are friends of the movement, and also the following movements (branches working in many different ecclesial and civil fields): New Families, New Humanity, Young People for a United World, Youths for Unity, the Parish Movement.

Membership: The Work of Mary has 140,440 members worldwide. The centers of common life ("Focolare") are present in 89 countries as follows: Africa (17), Asia (14), Europe (31), Middle East (6), North America (8), Oceania (3) and South America (10).

There are about 4.5 million other people who are involved more broadly in the movement, including 47,000 from other churches; 30,000 co-workers and sympathizers belonging to other faiths, and 70,000 co-workers and sympathizers without religious convictions.

Works: The Work of Mary has established a large number of Mariapolis Centers, which are places for spiritual and social formation and ecumenical and interfaith meetings; Cittadelle, which are places where members of the movement can stay and socialize, with training schools, craft activities and farms; and nongovernmental organizations for international cooperation, such as AMU and New Humanity.

There are also publishing houses; audiovisual centers; international musical groups; artistic production centers; the "Economy of Communion" project implemented in the management of 761 companies; a residential middle school and higher secondary school in Cameroon; social schools for education in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue; courses for family mediators; and vocational training schools.

Publications: Città Nuova, published fortnightly (in 25 languages, 40 editions)

Nuova Umanità, a cultural journal published every two months, with synopsis translated into five languages

Gen's, a journal for priests and seminarians published every two months in five languages

Unità e Carismi, published every two months for religious in seven languages

Gen2, a monthly magazine for young people in six languages

Gen3, a magazine published every two months for teen-agers in eight languages

Gen4, a magazine published every two months for children in seven languages

Parola di Vita (commentary on words of Scripture), published monthly in 80 languages and 16 local dialects

Economia di Comunione, published twice a year in six editions and six languages

Web site:


Movimento dei Focolari
Centro Internazionale
Via di Frascati, 306
00040 Rocca di Papa (Roma)

Telephone (39) 06-947-989 — Fax 06-9474-9320


© Copyright 2006 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]

This article has been selected from the ZENIT Daily Dispatch
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