A trip to Korea
Margaret Karram and Jesús Morán, President and Co-President of the Focolare Movement, have just concluded the Korean step of their first official trip to Asia and Oceania, which will follow with visits to Japan, Fiji Islands, Australia and Indonesia, until 25 May.
Here is a brief update on what happened in Korea.“Teach us, Lord, to journey together,
looking in the same direction,
united by the same goal,
in search of the same values
towards the One who loves us and awaits us,
who is the foundation of every new friendship’.
This prayer was said at the start of the first meeting they’ve had.

“Why the first trip in Asia?”
Margaret said: “I am here to listen, to learn, but above all to love the ‘continent of hope’,” she replied. The spiritual wealth of these peoples will be a gift for all. I feel it is very important to revive the path of dialogue in the Movement; it is the most important instrument for building peace, which is the good that the world needs most today’.

In Korea there are problems of social inequality, and efforts are underway to address this through social and political reforms, even progress is slow. In the context of strong polarisation between progressives and conservatives, the Church is seeking to be a bridge and act as an antidote to the secularisation that is affecting young people in particular.
The Archbishop of Seoul, Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-taek, highlighted among the social challenges intergenerational conflicts and an ageing population. He explained that ‘In the Church, there is the danger of closing ourselves off in our communities. Instead, we need to open up and this is the contribution that the Focolare can bring”.
The Focolare Movement in Korea is making its contribution to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, and also in various cultural spheres.
One example was the event on 14 April in Seoul, entitled: “Dialogue is becoming the culture of the human family”. Representatives from various Christian churches, various religions, and representatives from the social fields took part, animated by a constructive spirit of cooperation for social reconciliation and peace.
In her talk Margaret said: “It is very important that everyone can generate environments that open the way to the ‘dialogue of life,’ by putting into practice the teachings of their own religious faith”.
Jesús Morán encouraged them to continue on this common path: “It does not matter how big or small the things you do are. The important thing is that they bring the seeds of something new. The testimonies you have presented show this clearly”.

On 16 April, Margaret Karram and Jesús Morán went to the land that the Movement had received as a gift, about 70 kilometres south of Seoul, to fulfil a dream Chiara spoke of during her visit to Korea in 1982: the birth of a little town of formation and witness to Gospel life and the spirituality of unity for this part of Asia. In the presence of about 200 people – Focolare members, benefactors and friends who contributed in various ways – the land was blessed, and a medal of Mary was buried there as a seal.
“Let us entrust this Work to her,” Margaret concluded, “and ask her to help us adhere to God’s plans that maybe we do not yet know, but He is greater than us and if we give Him our willingness and generosity, He will be able to work.”
Then, on 23 April, it was the turn of the long-awaited meeting with all the members of the Movement; 1,200 were present, with about 200 connected online from various countries. It was an amazing celebration, bringing together peoples and cultures that we would hardly ever see dancing and singing on the same stage, and rejoicing in each other’s beauty and richness. Perhaps that is why some called the event ‘a miracle’ and the seed of a society renewed by unity.
To the last question on how our relationships must be in order to be able to dialogue with everyone, Margaret Karram answered with her own experience:
“This year we have deepened our prayer life and our love for God, a ‘vertical’ love we might say, like those pine trees whose branches go upwards. The other day, while I was outside for a walk, I saw a tree that I liked very much: its branches were open, extending outwards; they intertwined with other trees. This is how our relationships should be: our arms should always be open, reaching out to others; we should have our hearts wide open to the joys, sorrows, and lives of all the people who pass us by.”

Stefania Tanesini

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