The formation of “new men and women”

The formation of “new men and women”


By Benedetto Gui
From "Economia di Comunione - una cultura nuova"  n.29 - September 2009
Studenti_Sophia_rid
Chiara Lubich affirmed various times that “without new men and women, there is no new society”. And, as the ambitious objective of the EOC is that of contributing to transform the society, it is neccessary to form “new men and women” capable of living the culture of giving – renewed people who know how to choose communion as a lifestyle, every day, and even in economic activity.

That´s why, each year, a part of the profits put in common by businesses who adhere to the project is allocated to activities which form people to the culture of giving and of communion. These activities involve those in need, young students, families, workers, entrepreneurs, etc: people of every culture and social stratus, throughout the world, who are in various ways participants of the EOC experience. It is an investment that reinforces the culture of gratuitousness and of reciprocity. It ensures that many needy people, even in the future, will be able to find support in a community that is alive, one that lives the economy of communion.

There are various types of activities financed in this sphere. Mostly, they are actual formation activities like conventions, seminars and intensive courses. An example would be the courses which take place in the small towns of the Focolare Movement and which are always more geared towards the youth.  
Sophia_1_rid

This year, too, about 90 youth from various countries in Latin America will be able to take advantage of EOC support in their year-long experience at the small town of O´Higgins, in Argentina. They will work in some of the businesses that adhere to the spirit of the EOC and will follow formational courses on the culture of giving and on socio-political topics.

Other significant topics regard the elaboration and printing of formational material and the maintainance or construction of structures adapted to formation, especially within the small towns of the Focolare Movement.

Starting last year, and also in 2009, a significant part of the resources for the formation of “new men and women” will be allocated for the University Institute Sophia, which is located in the small international town of Loppiano (Florence, Italy), which hosts students from all over the world. The Institute offers Masters degrees in  “Principles and Prospectives of a Culture of Unity”, following two tracts: theological-philosophical and political-economical.

The particular formative project and academic method of the Institute foresee as a priority that study and life integrate and become one reality. Students and professors commit themselves to placing a pact of reciprocal welcome at the basis of the didactic and formative activity, putting the “Word of Life” taken from the Bible into practice, and communicating experiences arising from such.

Study, research and lessons aim at instilling constant dialogue between professors and between the students and the professors. From this derives collaborative teaching on the part of the professors, and the personal and active contribution by students to shared research.

The theoretical lessons are integrated with practicals, guided tours, meetings with civil and ecclesial realities, with communities of the various Christian traditions, with representatives of the various religions and of the multiform expressions of contemporary culture. The course also includes internships or stages in various environments, particularly in professional, cultural and social spaces which are expressions of a “culture of unity” – for example, in the businesses of the Economy of Communion.

Finally, the funds for the formation of “new men and women” are also used to sustain special scholastic institutes which, in regular primary and secondary school programs, carry out tracts of formation in the culture of giving. In 2008, for example, we supported the Scuola Aurora in the state of San Paolo, Brazil. The following are some experiences  of a few of it´s students.

 

Scuola Aurora, San Paolo (Brazil)
Scuola_Aurora_rid"Dear everyone, we want to thank you with all our heart for the chance that we have had to study this semester in the Scuola Aurora. We came to the small town of the Focolare Movement to live an experience of the culture of giving. We´ve wanted to study at the Scuola Aurora for a long time because it is a different school, whose teaching method is influenced by the spirituality of unity.

Other than being a fundamental part of our formation, this experience has been important for us because it has given us the opportunity to study in such a high-level school. It was the first time that many of us studied in a private school. At the beginning, it seemed difficult, but the most beautiful thing was the help among us and the availability of the teachers who accompany us while we learn. At the end, it seemed that we were all at the same scholastic level.

We were 23 from 11 Brazilian states, and we stayed from June until mid-January. This experience was great, an immense deepening in Gospel-based life. We feel that we grew as people and as Christians. It will definitely remain as a point of light in our lives. We´re leaving now, but we want to bring this light wherever we are!”"

 

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