Rosaleen and Phil Spencer report on an international online event for families inspired by the Focolare spirituality of unity.

[New City Magazine – January 2021 page 14]

We are all part of a family and for many the pandemic has heightened the importance of relationships, care and connection which the family intrinsically expresses. Within the Focolare Movement the New Families, made up of families from all over the world aims to bring the spirit of being a family everywhere by putting the words of the Gospel into action – in their homes, communities and wider society so as to contribute towards building the one human family.

Between 5-8 November we participated in an on-line world-wide meeting of the New Families. There were around 1,000 participants linked by Zoom from 65 different countries. It was a very enriching and powerful experience, technology overcoming boundaries of time and space, enabling us to get to know one another and build ‘one global family’. The meeting was also an opportunity to build a network of families across our smaller zone of Western Europe and this will continue.

The family – a dynamo of care

The title of the Meeting was ‘Dare to Care – Caring for the world of the family’. Dare to Care, as readers may remember, is the pathway this year of the United World project, led by the young people and which is being followed by the whole of the Movement worldwide. In the concluding session (available on YouTube for those who wish to see it in full) Jesús Moran, Co-President of the Focolare, reflected on the lessons of the pandemic which have, as never before, underlined the necessity of ‘care’ for others in all its social and political aspects. Echoing Chiara Lubich, Jesús Moran described the family as a dynamo or driving force of care, where mutual help happens. The family is a ‘laboratory’ for a new humanism based on love and the protagonist of the United World in its diversity and inclusivity.

During the meeting, various aspects of ‘Dare to Care’ were explored via the lens and experience of the family through a series of questions and talks, for example looking at the issues of poverty and inequality, of relationships, communication and dialogue, ecology and active citizenship.

The universality of the family

It was an opportunity to share and learn from many local experiences, projects and practical actions which are described as the tools of the Charism of Unity. One of the striking things was the universality of these tools which can be applied in all situations however culturally diverse. For example, a couple from Burundi shared what happened to them after the floods that affected their region. The husband shared how what he had learned through New Families had enabled him to ‘lose and listen’ and therefore helped him to understand the trauma his wife and family had experienced and then to give them and others in their community the support they needed. This was echoed by experiences of families in Spain, ‘what we have learned through New Families has helped us to improve in listening to our children and to be more reflective as parents…’

There were many varied actions of communion and solidarity with projects which were inspiring and worth imitating, such as families in Malta working together to welcome and support migrant families. Many illustrated the strength that we gain from others. We travel together carrying each other’s burdens and challenges. This encounter and sharing with others is always a mutual gift – as President of the Focolare, Maria Voce, said in her conclusion.

Dare to Care – in GB

Here too in GB we want to continue to travel together get to know one another and to reach out to others. From January 2021 there will be a series of monthly Zooms. The theme of the Zooms will be putting Love / Care into action – looking at the different aspects of love, and how we can live these in our lives together as families.

Who is it for?
We are all part of a family in some way or other, so no one is excluded. It is open to anyone who is interested in the topics of the meetings.

What is the aim?
To follow the strategy of Dare to Care – to Learn, Act and Share.

  • Learn – there will be a short input illustrated by practical experiences.
  • Share – opportunities to share with each other in smaller breakout groups.
  • Act – The sessions will give us practical tools we can use in our day to day life in our families and wider community. It will also be a chance to have an hour together of ‘being family’.

LOVE CREATES A FAMILY

Sharing our way of living in the family
Everyone is part of a family and is invited

21st January 2021 ‒ Love shares

18th February 2021 ‒ Love reaches out

18th March 2021 ‒ Love uplifts

29th April 2021 ‒ Love heals

27th May 2021 ‒ Love creates a home

16th September 2021 ‒ Love generates wisdom

14th October 2021 ‒ Love unites

All sessions will take place on Zoom from 7.30 to 8.30pm

To participate please email families@focolare.org.uk

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