Sunday, March 21, 2010

Focolare Movement - Part two: some hints to the organization of the structure

Published by Uyulala On 16 Mar 2008

In this second part I am using the article published on the blog “clero fobia”, modifying it slightly. I noticed, in fact, that some parts might not be clear to those who know absolutely nothing about the Focolare Movement. If you are curious, moreover, you can comment the articles, keeping in mind that since the time that I went away I had nothing to do with them and do not know about the changes, if any, which might have been modified the structure and organization.In the meantime, I met my first boyfriend (I was not 16 years old yet) who became, after a few years, my first husband. That boy was atheist and this caused many problems to me, but I think that I myself gave him too many troubles. Anyway, I am going to talk about this later.Here I would like to talk a bit about the structure, the backbone of the movement.So, GEN: A group of young members was called UNIT, but in the case of the pre-GEN, of course, was called pre-unit. In both cases, they were coordinated by an older member, who was not necessarily older by age, but she/he must have had a longer experience in the movement. This person was called "pivot" because it was to this person that the others had to refer. He/she was also called "white": I am going to explain why later.

This was what we were told during our “journey”. The "white" also belonged to a special unit, which was called "the white unit": it was made up of young people who had this role within other units or pre-units. The coordinator of all the Gen was a focolarino (or focolarina, according to the sex of the person of persons), who was responsible for the GEN movement. As for the structure of the movement, I would say that is organized in fractions: it is made up of many small groups of people, coordinated by the “whites”, coordinated by groups of whites, coordinated by the focolarini who are headed by a “white”, belonging to a group headed by a local coordinator, headed by a national coordinator, led by continent coordinators who are, ultimately, led by the central focolare: Chiara’s focolare.

Furthermore, the groups of whites, as well as being coordinated by the focolare, are part of a local group called "Rainbow Unit" (I am going to try to explain the special "esoteric” meaning, which the colors assume in the spirituality of the movement ). Honestly, I do not remember at all what were the other structures of the movement.However, this organization was a typical feature of all sectors of the movement. In addition to the focolarini and the GEN movement, there are the so called “volunteers”, who are people who live the spirituality wherever they are: they are usually male and female workers who are particularly involved in the society. They are also divided into small groups. Also, there are groups made up of families, which are nota s involved as the others in the movement and, I believe, the only mixed group (male and females together) because husband and wife participate together.

The Gen are divided by age: there are the Gen 2, approximately aged between 15-16 years until they have organized their social life (with a job, a marriage or a religious choice ). The Gen 3 are aged between 8 and 13-14 years, the Gen 4 from their birth until they are about 8 years.
The Focolarini are the very soul of the Focolare movement. They are people who have expressed the three monastic vows (chastity, poverty and obedience). They live in small groups called "Focolare" and they do not wear a uniform or anything external in clothing or accessories in order to be recognizable by everybody. They usually have a job that allows them to support themselves, but when they do not have it, they are supported by the movement itself. They are subject to move, as well as it happens in every monastic order, and they can be asked to change their life completely in just a few days, sometimes moving to the opposite side of the planet.

Another particular aspect of the movement is the existence of married focolarini. These are people who have made the three monastic vows but have the vow of chastity related to their marital status. As I said in another post, the difference between a vow and an obligation is linked to the fact that breaking a vow is a sacrilege, while not following an obligation may be a sin and nothing else. These are very closet o the focolare, but, and I guess you can easily understand why, they do not live with the “virgin” focolarini. Usually, married focolarini have to deal with the families of the movement. Although by the organization is always stressed that married focolarini are not to be considered "focolarini Series B", I noticed that in fact this is exactly what happened, because living in absolute chastity is considered the perfect application of the love of God.

People with children insist their children attend the focolare practically since birth, bringing them up by following strictly the spirituality of the movement.There is, finally, the whole group of people who belong to the clergy. Anyone can be part of a religious congregation and ALSO of the movement. It is not hard to believe that, among other things, some important prelates are closely linked to the movement itself.For all categories, there is a similar path, in stages, during which people learn very gradually about issues related to spirituality, to life, to the structural characteristics of the movement. A feature of this graduality, among other things, is to learn to keep secret the information learnt. With these writings I am knowingly violating a commitment made many years ago.

Focolarini, volunteers, Gen, Gens (gen who are going to become priests), religious people and families are part of the inner structure of the movement. Around them, there are many other people, whose role is extremely variable. I remember that when I was part of the movement we were encouraged to keep the structural pattern of the movement secret. The writings and conversations of Chiara invited us to take these matters confidential. She often used very elegant metaphors. About this, for example, she said that the structure of the movement was like the skeleton of the human body or the trunk and branches of a tree: it was useless to show the skeleton because what you must see is the whole human body, or the tree with its leaves, flowers and fruits.
In this way, as well as for many other things, we were kindly asked not to share with strangers many aspects of life within the movement, with the result that the members we tightly linked to one another, and were strengthening more and more. We, instead, were separated little by little from the “others”, those who did not share our experience and the ideal. In fact we were to build invisible (but very solid) barriers between who was inside the movement and who was not.

After a long period, this would have had a devastating effect on members.


Translated by Laryssa from the original article at Movimento dei focolari – Seconda Parte: alcuni accenni dell’organizzazione della struttura

written by Uyulala

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