With the Focolare family in Australia

    With the Focolare family in Australia

    We have come to the Australian leg of the journey of Margaret Cram and Jesus Moran, President and Co-Chairman of Focolare, a continent of extraordinary cultural riches and a diverse and multicultural Focolare family.

    From Suva to Sydney

    arrive in SydneyOn this trip, Margaret Cram and Jesús Moran covered quite a distance, just think of the ‘hop’ from Japan to the Fiji Islands. The same thing happened on May 9 with the flight to Australia, as the fishing villages of Fiji’s southern coast gave way to the sparkling jewel that is Sydney. The lights of its iconic harbor lit up as our plane flew over the city, which proudly displayed its beauty.

    Welcoming us in so many languages, in this multicultural city, was the diverse local community of Focolare. They come from South Korea, the Philippines, China, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Bangladesh, Brazil and, of course, Australia. They are Catholic, Melkite, Chaldean, and Anglican. The Sydney stacks also trace the cities of Brisbane and the Australian capital Canberra and the surrounding areas.

    Meeting with the Archbishop of Canberra

    Contacting the local church is always a priority at every stage. In profound and humorous meeting, Monsignor Christopher Prowse, current Archbishop of Canberra, sheds light on the life of Mary MacKillop, Australia’s first female saint. “If she were alive today, I would feel completely comfortable with Focolari,” said the archbishop, referring to her work for interfaith dialogue. She took us to her grave and prayed, like her, may the gift of loneliness blossom like a rose and spread its fragrance throughout this earth.

    Art is an open door to Aboriginal culture

    In an exhibition of contemporary Aboriginal art at the Art Gallery NSW

    Art always opens an important window into Aboriginal culture, but to understand what you are observing, a guide is essential. Alexandra Gaffikin, an English volunteer living in Sydney with extensive experience in the museum and cultural heritage sector, accompanies us on an exhibition of contemporary Aboriginal art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

    Bark paintings, for example, depict stories, but also maps, deeds, and regulations. They can be three-dimensional, with the lower layers revealing even underground water sources. In Aboriginal culture, these artworks, originally painted on the human body, are living collections that have been passed down for thousands of years.

    Visit to Sydney

    Despite their busy schedules, Margaret Karam and Jesus Moran also managed to make time to visit Sydney, hopping on one of the many ferries to ‘Circular Quay’ and its famous opera house. The view is amazing!

    Different cultures, the novelty of walking together

    This visit was an opportunity for Focolarini from the entire region – also from Perth and Wellington in New Zealand and from Fiji – to meet for some important sessions. It is a time of movement realignment, and so cultures that are very different (think Korea, Japan, and the Chinese-speaking region, for example) find themselves cooperating directly.

    I think we have not yet understood the positive aspects of all this, even if the process is not easy. I think we will see the consequences in a few years because it helps us to break down all the barriers… first of all in our hearts, the barriers between nations…

    “If we want peace, we must first have it between us and the communities. We have to look at other countries as if they were our own and discover that we can be this ‘connected family (…)'”.

    “We must not give our wealth to others, but rather help them discover their own.”

    Margaret Karam

    Distinguished presence despite health challenges

    One particularly important moment was the moment when three married, seriously ill foucularians managed to receive everyone at a distance.

    “I just want to assure you of my loneliness,” said one of them. “I had booked and was ready to come, but I had to change my plans, because God had something in store for me.”

    Another said, “It’s beautiful because I feel like I’m where God wants me to be, even if it’s not where I want to be.”

    Physically I can’t run, – said the third, – but inside me I have such a desire to do it, I am so excited. Enthusiasm has no age.”

    Welcome from Australia

    Ali Golding

    Aboriginal culture in Australia is the oldest continuously operating culture in the world, dating back at least 60,000 years. Proper protocol for any event or gathering in Australia should begin with a “welcome to the country” by an Aboriginal elder, a formal acknowledgment of the traditional stewards of this land.

    When the Focolare community gathered from all over Australia, we were honored to welcome Ali Golding, better known as ‘Aunt Ali’, to all. She is an old woman of the Beribi people who was raised on an Aboriginal mission. Ali has lived for over 20 years in a suburb of Sydney and, in the 1980s, was an early Aboriginal Education Assistant. In 2004 he received a diploma in theology.

    Participated in many local, national and international forums, incl Reconciliation Council New South Wales And Australians for Aboriginal Title and Reconciliation. A significant contribution to the understanding and deepening of indigenous culture and history.

    Ali’s presence at our event certainly enhanced the appreciation for this “National Treasure” and the rich Aboriginal heritage. “It was one of the warmest welcomes I’ve ever experienced,” said Ali Golding. Here I felt the spirit of the Creator.

    Best encounter of the entire trip (so far)

    Margaret Cram and Jesus Moran had a dynamic and profound encounter with nearly 30 young people. When asked to talk about the challenges, they did not hold back, but rather spoke openly about the indifference they faced every day with their peers. There are not many and the distances are vast.

    Margaret Karam recounted the early years of her public life in Haifa with her sister, and how few people began receiving “The General” in the mail. She was proud of the way they started and said she was equally proud of the attendees as they moved on in their public lives.

    Jesus Moran also encouraged the young people and reassured them that it was good to share their difficulties. “It was the best match of the whole trip,” he said at the end. “I really like it.”

    Rich experience

    Margaret Kram and Jesus Moran with the men and women of the second generation

    Drawn from their personal experience, Rita Musallam and Antonio Salambini, consultants at the International Center for Asia and Oceania, interviewed how they experience dialogue and brotherhood in conflict situations.

    “In my experience of dialogue with people of other faiths, I understood that we are walking towards God together,” said Antonio. Rita: Dialogue is meeting. What is really important is meeting the other and discovering that love banishes fear.”

    Learning about the body (spiritual)

    Surfing is one of Australia’s national sports and is also widely practiced on the Sydney coast, with young and old alike donning wetsuits and taking to the board to chase the waves. Body surfing is also very popular; People are surfing the ocean waves even without a board. Exceptional offer!

    Meet the Focolare community

    But to get to the best waves, we must first tackle the powerful waves that crash against us: the ones we don’t want to ride, the ones we’re not ready for.

    “Someone explained the dynamics of the sport to me and our love for Jesus Vorsaken immediately occurred to me,” said Margaret.

    Bodysurfers dive deep, under the oncoming waves they don’t want to ride, so they can touch the sand at the bottom. In this way, they avoid being overwhelmed by the power of the ocean. Once a wave has passed, it will surface again to find a wave to ride.

    “Just as they don’t fight the waves, the same way you don’t ‘resist trials,’ but you go deep into your heart, confess Jesus in every pain, continue to love Him, and come back up, I find the light through love.”

    M. Hartmann

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