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The passing of Focolare Movement founder, Chiara Lubich, at the age of 88 marks the end of a life which initiated a quiet revolution within the Church.
The Focolare, which in Italian means “hearth” or “fireplace,” was founded by Lubich during the tumultuous years of the World War II in Italy. Formally known as “the Work of Mary,” the movement was associated with the term “focolare” since in its beginnings, the "fire" of Gospel love was that which animated Chiara Lubich and her first companions.
Dialogues with one’s own Church, amongst other Churches, with the Jewish people, amongst the world faiths, and with people with no religious affiliation are the pathways to unity that were identified by Lubich. For her, to build the unity of the human family requires engaging in these multi-level dialogues.
It was this “fire” born of the deep realization of God’s love that would be the impetus of Lubich and the Focolare to build the unity of the human family enriched by diversity. From this spark, a conflagration across the world, across different beliefs, was ignited.
A very secular mindset would find the above naïve, simplistic, perhaps even foolish. But the fruits of such a “spirituality” is something one cannot simply scoff at or dismiss: over 1000 social projects of various dimensions in all 5 continents wherein particularly developed are those in the field of social health and education in the most depressed areas of the world; an Economy of Communion project has been developed with 750 businesses worldwide have been inspired by this project; the establishment of 35 small towns whose communal living is based on this “naïve” notion of mutual love; and 63 “Mariapolis” or formation centers around the world. This is not to mention the millions of lives transformed and renewed by Lubich’s “hearth.”