Remembering Chiara Lubich
Chiara Lubich, who founded the Focolare Movement in Italy in 1943, expired at 88 years of age last week. She was an extraordinary figure in our contemporary Church. Thousands gathered for her funeral at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. You can watch a news video of the ceremony available through our archdiocesan newspaper’s Web site, TheBostonPilot.com.
As a young woman in Trent, she was a teacher and a parishioner at one of the Capuchin parishes there. She became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis, taking the name of Chiara, which is Italian for Claire.
During World War II, she used to gather in the bomb shelters with some of her friends and there would read from the Scriptures, taking one phrase which they called “La Parola di Vita,” which means “The Word of Life.” Then, they would try to live that word intensely for a month. At the end, they would come together and reflect on how they had lived that word. The first word they chose was from the Gospel of John: “that all might be one.”
The great theme of Chiara’s spirituality, like St. Francis’ desire to be a universal brother, was to restore that unity that Christ longs for. Her movement, which she considered a Marian movement and called “La Opera di Maria,” has attracted many thousands of people who live this spirituality throughout the world.
As a young priest I was exposed to this wonderful movement through Adalberto Martinez, one of my parishioners who came from Paraguay. He later became one of my priests in the Virgin Islands and is now the bishop of San Pedro. I was privileged to attend a couple of the meetings that they have for bishops who are friends of the movement at Castel Gandolfo. Pope John Paul II gave them part of the pope’s summer residence as a conference center for the Focolare movement.
Pope John Paul II saw in these new ecclesial realities a very special movement of grace in the life of the Church, which gives people a deep sense of community, a wonderful formation in the faith, a personal spirituality and motivation to evangelize.
With the death of Chiara Lubich, we mourn her loss, but we know that her legacy lives on in the thousands of people -- consecrated religious, priests and laity -- who live her spirituality.
Celebrating St. Joseph’s Day
On Saturday, St. Joseph’s Day, I visited the Jeanne Jugan Residence in Somerville, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. The sisters have great devotion to St. Joseph, so I try to go there on his feast day whenever I can.
While I was there, I helped distribute gifts to all the residents and the staff. Everyone there really creates a very homelike atmosphere, and there is a great sense of joy. Mother Celine is the superior and has done an outstanding job there.
The chaplain there, Jesuit Father William Raftery, has done a wonderful job. He has a sister in the community who is currently working in Malaysia.
Also in this week’s blog:
> Palm Sunday at St. Mary’s in Franklin
> Commerating the life of St. Patrick
> Chrism Mass
> Tenebre liturgy