A dialogue in which “we ourselves understand who we are”
27 February 2015: 18 Bishop-friends of the Focolare Movement visited Sophia – and together with others that would be arriving in the next few days for their annual meeting in the Mariapolis Centre of Castel Gandolfo, Rome – gave students and professors who welcomed them, the chance to review in a wide perspective, that programme of studies and life the Institute offers. In fact as it often occurs – it was Claudia from Germany, a graduating student of Social Sciences who commented that “in facing the questions of those who are interested in the recent experience of Sophia, the dialogue that begins, also clarifies our own understanding of who we are… we are always in debt with the others. Often when there are Bishops, the experience becomes even clearer.”
Chiara Lubich affirmed that the fundamental need of our time is the “formation of global men and women,” who with their souls, hearts and minds are authentic interpreters of that network of relationships which, without discontinuity, makes us persons. This requires of our societies a deep cultural change. “In Sophia we daily ask ourselves how we should translate this mission of ours into facts, and cultural and formative projects,” – the Rector, Piero Coda explained.
Most of Sophia’s presentation consisted in a direct and spontaneous dialogue with the students. “A year and a half ago, I was looking for the instruments for the reconstruction of my country, and here I discovered that it is the world we have to reconstruct” – affirmed Amjad from Syria. Pauline from France continued by saying, “Our classroom – is the experience of God the Father’s love, in which we are called to live, from which and in which, with renewed light we look at reality in its many expressions.” Pierre from Congo added, “Here in Sophia, there are many moments which we share – but the first thing we share is what is born from life: due to this, studying becomes a discovery of the possible paths of fraternity between our peoples, even more so when this has to do with peoples at war with each other.”
“Being an educational community allows us to experience reciprocity not only between the students or between professors, but between professors and students” – was the remark of Antonella Deponte, Psychology teacher. “Studying in Sophia was a destructuring experience,” said Andrea, an Italian, and a recent graduate in Trinitarian ontology and who was once asked by a Bishop of Uganda how one should react in face of contemporary atheism. “I understood that there are no preestablished answers that save us from the continual search for truth. There must only be the commitment to build with each one, in the situation they find themselves, an authentic, human relationship. We are called to unity and to making this unity grow among us, so as to touch the heart of man where God lives.”
In the group of visitors was also the new Cardinal, Francis Xavier Kriengsak of Bangkok, moderator of the Bishop-Friends of the Focolare movement, who underlined to the agreement of all, the need of the Church to draw from the new cultural and formative resources like those emanating from the spirituality of unity of Chiara Lubich, to enlighten the many fields of ecclesiastical service.
At the end of the meeting, gathered at the small bar of Sophia, the conversations continued personally or in small groups. Some of the Bishops who were at the first in-depth meeting with Sophia, asked to visit the Institute, library and classrooms. The programme continued in the afternoon with the visit to other sites of the international town of Loppiano, a part of the programme which opens out to a broader vision which is one of the strongpoints that also characterises the IUS project, a link that grows from year to year and consolidates its development.