Over the summer period we saw many friends in the Focolare depart for heaven: Mari Ponticaccia, Marie Friery, Maureen McDonagh, Pina Peduzzi and Anthony Salmon, to name but a few. Alongside the sadness of losing these friends many of us felt a sense of gratitude and of joy for these extraordinary lives, well lived. The funerals were celebrations which seemed to join heaven and earth. As someone commented: ‘More like a wedding than a funeral!’
This month readers can enjoy tributes to two of these friends: Lesley Ellison writes about Mari Ponticaccia (page 4) who brought the Focolare spirituality of unity to Britain way back in 1963. Then, Tim Friery remembers his own mother, Marie Friery (page 18) who met the movement in Liverpool – also 1963.
‘Courageous conversations’ (page 14) was first published by our sister magazine ‘Living City’ and deals with the issues of systemic racism in the USA, particular after the death of George Floyd in 2020. Angelica Kerr, the author, outlines how she moved outside her own comfort zone to set up small discussion groups to confront racism in American society head on. She writes: ‘In our small group, we would meet and empty our minds and hearts, creating an open space for each other, as we shared with great love our personal difficulties, our experiences and thoughts on race in the USA, actively listening to one another with love and without judgment. Entering each other’s suffering, the hidden pain and deep experiences, opening a space that previously hadn’t allowed anyone else to enter for fear of misunderstanding or judgment. Those were moments of grace and enlightenment.’
This style of authentic dialogue is very much a fruit of the spirituality of unity. May we too engage in ‘courageous conversations’, in our own communities.