Married and consecrated people in the Focolare movement gather annually

The B.C. Catholic

A movement born in bomb shelters during World War II still gathers to pray for and practise unity.

Married and consecrated people in the Focolare movement are dedicated to the ideals Catholic foundress Chiara Lubich brought to air raid shelters decades ago.

"She had this charism of unity. It's a gift from God to bring unity to our society, but in a very strong way," said Focolare member Mitsue Pierfederici.

"In the midst of the Second World War, they were in danger. At any moment they could be bombed, and there were sirens going. Every time they escaped to a bomb shelter, they brought a Bible so they could read under a candle. In the bomb shelter, little by little, they discovered what God wanted from them."

The small group grew into a movement, now boasting more than 2 million members in 182 countries, and spreading a message of unity with God, other Christians, and all people.

Local Focolare members gather for Mariapolis, an annual three-day conference where they participate in the Mass, hear presentations, play games, and talk about faith.

"When I was a child I (went) to Mariapolis every year with my family. It was the most exciting event of the year, even as a child, because there was something really special in the air that attracted me."

Pierfederici later understood it to be the spirituality of unity in the crowd. "Jesus said, 'Where there are two or three people gathered in My name, I am in their midst.' Later on, I understood that was what attracted me."

The event usually draws 100-200 people, including Christians who are not part of the movement but are seeking inspiration about ways to find unity in their lives.

Mariapolis will be held May 21-23 at Trinity Western University in Langley. The registration deadline is April 30. More information is available from Mitsue Pierfederici at 778-980-2470 or by emailing [email protected]