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Life of Focolare founder celebrated at family event


Masters of Ceremonies Susi and Joe O’Brien speaking at anniversary celebrations of Focolare Movement founder Chiara Lubich. Photo: Supplied

By Caroline Smith

The life of Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, was celebrated recently with an evening Mass and a family focused gathering and forum.

Held at St Mary’s Cathedral on Saturday 18 March – the ninth anniversary of her passing, the event attracted around 70 people, for a day of reflection on Chiara’s life and teachings.

The Focolare was founded in Trent, Italy in 1944, when the city was suffering repeated bombings.

Chiara and her friends began to help inhabitants of the city and developed a movement focused on brotherhood and unity, inspired by Gospel teachings which flourished after the war.


(L to R) Perth Focolare Coordinator Michael Chan with Paul Hyman and Giovanni Bruno at the ‘Family Matters’ event on 18 March.Photo: Supplied

The Mass was celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, who reflected on how the Focolare Movement showed the possibility of faith even during times of great hardship.

“We give thanks for the life of Chiara in our Mass tonight.

“She, I think would be an example of the person who due to unusual circumstances in her life, came to experience a consoling presence of the Lord,” he said.

“Those moments in her life where things went very well, for example the whole idea of bringing people together to listen to the word of God, to allow them to move forward in their faith and to live together in a community of sisters and brothers.

“Where did all that start? It started in Trent at a time when it was being bombed by the Allies, where it would be so easy to say to the Lord, where are you?”


Children had a special program of activities as part of Focolare’s ‘Family Matters’ event at St Mary’s Cathedral. Photo: Supplied

During the ‘Family Matters’ event preceding the Mass, attendees took part in workshops discussing the ideas of Focolare and watched a live-stream of an international seminar on the movement which was being held in Loppiano, Italy.

Perth Focolare Movement member Aida Barbosa, said, the seminar provided one of several talking points on Focolare’s teachings on family for people at the Perth event.

“Watching parts of the streaming, that was transmitted live all over the world, widened our hearts to the whole human family,” she said.

“An excerpt of Chiara’s speech at the 19th International Congress for the Family had a profound impact on many.

“It clarified the deep and demanding meaning of life struggles in the light of our Christian faith, with the possibility often missed of enabling us to transform with God’s grace, family crisis into moments of growth.”


Perth Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton with Merle Furtado and her children Gareth and Garren at the Focolare event on 18 March. Photo: Supplied

Chiara, who died in 2008,gave this speech, entitled ‘The future lies in the family’ to the Congress in Lucerne, Switzerland in 1999.

Ms Barbosa said the live-streamed seminar had informed Focolare members of new initiatives within the movement, including the establishment of an International and Interdisciplinary Family Study Centre in Loppiano, connected to the Sophia University Institute which was founded in 2007 by Chiara Lubich.