“COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP IN THE SPIRIT OF THE GOSPEL”
We wanted to name this project “the anchor” (in arabic Al Marsat) because it is a symbol of solidity, security and stability. Useful to help in the orientation while waiting for the right moment to decide the next action in order to travel in a safe sea.
The communitarian leadership has exactly this purpose: to open our doors and let us move abroad, seeking for solidity and stability in order to be a guide in a very instable society, driving it towards a direction that favors the human fulfillment.
The anchor also reminds those who ventured into the Mediterranean Sea, searching a better future and, not succeeding, lose their lives.
Finally, a Christian symbol, the anchor recalls faith in eternal life and hope in the resurrection.
1- A solid foundation
As basis for this work I believe that love should be highlighted. If you don’t love, you don’t go anywhere and work doesn’t bear fruits. Instead, the love presented by the Gospels is the basis on which we can build all our work. To illustrate this love, I associate myself with pope Benedict XVI who says: “Love is always a process of purification, of renunciations, of painful transformations of ourselves and thus a way of maturation.” (Benedict XVI)
If there is no tension towards this love, we can hardly become leaders.
2- Masters and pilgrims on the path of your dreams
As a second point, I take the invitation of Pope Francis, in the last 11 August, during a meeting with young Italians and it is very appropriate to our leadership course.
Exhorted pope Francis: “Do not stop dreaming and be masters in the dream. Pilgrims on the road of your dreams. I believe it is always worth being mothers, fathers, friends, brothers… for life! And I don’t want to stop believing it!” (Pope Francis).
Moreover, those who do not know how to dream together cannot achieve their goals, because the difficulties become too strong.
3- The announcement must be made first of all as a personal and community witness
How can we announce then our message to others? Again, the Pope replies: “We believe that the announcement must be made first of all as personal and communitarian witness, as well as in appropriate forms of communication outside the communities. If I am a Christian, a lay faithful, a priest, a nun, a bishop, if we Christians do not learn to listen to suffering, to listen to problems, to be silent and to let people talk and listen, we will never be able to give a positive answer. And so many times the positive answers cannot be given with words: they must give themselves risking in the witness. Where there is no witness, there is no Holy Spirit. This is serious.
Once, during a lunch with young people in Krakow, a young man told me: “I have a problem at university because I have a colleague who is agnostic. Tell me, Father, what should I say to this agnostic companion to make him understand that ours is the true religion?”. I said, “Dear, the last thing you have to do is to tell him something. Begin to live as a Christian, and he will ask you why you live like that “. (Pope Francis)
4- Social thought of the Church
Faced with the gravity of the material and spiritual conditions of coexistence in regions of strong social conflicts and war, it is not at all easy to find a balance of life and resume social relations that are indispensable for peaceful coexistence.
In this regard, the social doctrine of the Church proposes to us the golden rule as a basis on the level of human relations. It is a message that the Mystery challenges man and any man: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.” (Mt 7, 12).
With a faith in God’s closeness, a leader can influence society and bring peace among divided groups, can help to put together a group willing to solve their problems and to contribute to the common good of their city, their Church and their country. A leader like that is able to create a network with the other communities already present on the spot.
And God first comes to meet us, as he has come to meet the people. In the Exodus, God speaks to Moses: The Lord said: “I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore, I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Es 3, 7-8).
The name: “God replied Moses, “I am who am.” Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.” (Es 3, 14).
Only in a dynamic like this, we can positively impact our environments and give our contribution also to the situations of countries that are depopulated and others who must learn the management of the immigration crisis, a large presence of those who escape from wars and misery.
One of the most pungent losses in conflict situations is the loss of an extremely important part of society: young people who hardly get to graduate and then are forced to leave to escape from wars, or look for a future elsewhere because they cannot find work.
Going through the 4 points chosen to introduce this leadership project, it seems to me that we can come to identify how to become people who know how to “make communities”, to drive people.
Here I could report, as an example, the experience that our community try to live in Syria, in Iraq and in the Gulf countries.
For Syria and Iraq, what we see in the presence of the Focolare Movement is that, during the most difficult period of the war, the communities decided to remain, trying to work with all other committed Christians to support people who have not been able to leave like so many others. It is a presence that is first of all spiritual, but also concrete and active.
At this time of reconstruction in Syria, we have managed to carry out projects in the field of child support, such as creating 4 spaces that welcome a hundred children each, to help them to continue their studies, with pedagogical, psychological and social support.
Other projects are: help families in difficult situations, due to the considerable losses caused by the war, or due to illness and impoverishment caused by the economic crisis, logic consequence of war. Here too, more than four hundred families were assisted till now.
Another important aspect of these projects is that many jobs are created for the educators and health agents, who also lost their jobs and in this way, they can earn salaries and live with dignity.
In the Gulf countries, instead, the spirit of Leadership has helped the group of people of the Focolare Movement present in these countries rediscover the community. They are people of many nationalities who arrive there because of work and it’s a hard experience, living without time to devote themselves to social and spiritual development. Most of the time, people meet together divided by nation or social cast, but never together. Our effort as leaders is to try to give the possibility of exchange and communion between the different communities. This work brings many fruits. Another important work that can always be done better is to try to include people who left their countries making bridge with the communities of the countries that receive them.These are some examples that help us to broaden our eyes in order to find new direction to our existence and rediscover the meaning of life in a community.
Christian da Silva