The EoC "takes off" from Santa Cruz de la Sierra

In a crescendo of intensity and depth, the international Latin American EoC congress concluded

The EoC "takes off" from Santa Cruz de la Sierra

From our correspondent Lucas Cerviño

On Saturday, July 17, the 2010 Bolivian EoC congress got to the heart of things: after the first afternoon of presentations on the EoC to the city, the two following days were dedicated to people with a direct link to the Economy of Communion. The day began with Luigino Bruni presenting the video of Chiara Lubich's report to the international congress of the Economy of Communion in 2004, in which Chiara describes the goals of the EoC and the culture of giving.

Next, there was a dense exchange of experiences from various entrepreneurs: some microcredit projects in Bolivia (Jorge and Reina Gutierrez from La Guardia, Jhenny Arancibia from La Paz); Paco Toro, Spain; Monica and Pablo Zalazar, Margarita Moreno, Argentina; Rafael Gonzales, Ecuador. Besides sharing about the spirit that is lived in the EoC, these entrepreneurs presented their business's accounts with data in hand, with invoices and profits, all in the goal of being able to weigh how the development of the business is going. A common denominator among these experiences was the "emotion" with which they were shared. It reflected the depth of these experiences, the commitment and the journey taken through the most varied difficulties.

In the afternoon, participants worked in groups. Two groups of entrepreneurs focused on the ID card of the EoC; a third group gathered EoC scholars; and a fourth group, made of youth, addressed their questions and requests to have a chance to speak more with Luigino Bruni about various aspects of the project, such as: "How can you find a balance between the needs of the entrepreneur's family and those of the business?" "What distinguishes Gospel-based poverty and situations of poverty?" "How can we not remain "closed" in our environments since the EoC is made for the world?" Luigino Bruni concluded underlining the importance that everyone, especially youth, find his own "diamond", that specific vocation to which each is called, to not settle for "crumbs" and to "aim high".

The dialogue that surged around the EoC ID card was also very profitable. Reflections were made on the specific characteristic of EoC businesses. Someone said that it is perhaps that being propelled to "give not only what is extra. Rather, give also what costs us but that which we see as necessary for the others". Other main points included the relationship between entrepreneur and the poor, "from poor to poor", the central role of the person in the EoC project, and how to apply the EoC in large businesses.

Sunday, July 18, was the last day of the congress. The morning opened with still more sharing of experiences, by Viki Herrera from Arequipa (Peru) who makes artisan cookies, by Galo Poxo (Quito-Ecuador) with his large business consulting firm, by Maria Luisa Altamirano (Mexico) and finally Carmen Amarillo (Argentina), who shared her current difficulties. "The communion built in these days of the congress," said Carmen, "made me rediscover the 'golden thread' of my now 15-year journey as an entrepreneur."

At the end of the morning, Luigino Bruni took the word, underlining how all the reflections that he has brought ahead in these years are the fruit of concrete, lived experiences. There are three challenges that he sees for the EoC today: above all, putting the instruments of Chiara Lubich's collective spirituality into practice in the businesses, as she herself proposed in her 2007 message; therefore, not just forming "new men and women", but also take on the challenge of creating "new structures". It is very important that in the next 10 years “new businesses” come to life whose new way of doing business is evident. Finally, Luigino encouraged everyone to see the "wounds" – inevitably part of bringing ahead the EoC – as "blessings" that help us to live in uncertainty, accepting limits and vulnerability. It is truly in this condition that God works.

In the afternoon, the Bolivian EoC Commission presented the costs analysis of the congress, with a "profit" of 400 dollars. Then, the working groups from the day before met again to search together for concrete proposals, building a way towards the international 20th anniversary congress of the EoC in May 2011, in Brazil. While this future meeting will take place in the light of all the beautiful fruits that have come from the EoC in the last 19 years, it will also be held with the knowledge that more can be done as far as responsibility and awareness. Here are a few of the proposals: apply the instruments of Chiara Lubich's collective spirituality to the EoC, without worrying whether or not we can be mature enough to do so; create a Summer School for the youth of Latin America; make the website more attractive to youth; organize local meetings in various countries to prepare for Brazil 2011; organize two "virtual" meetings through video conference for Latin America.

In conclusion, Ramon Cervino and Atsuro Nishisawa thanked everyone, especially those who had participated from other countries whose presence made it possible for this meeting to truly be international and "ispano-americano".

Finally, Luigino Bruni summarized the fruits of these three intense days, and he identified a series of points to follow on the journey towards the 2011 Brazil meeting:

1- the EoC, which began 19 years ago within the Focolare Movement, must now always more "go outwards" to offer itself to humanity as an alternative to the worldwide crisis;

2- It is the moment to make schools of formation in the EoC. These would be schools for entrepreneurs, workers, and above all a specific school for youth, who are essential to the project. If we do not have young people interested in and formed in the EoC, in time, the experience is destined to failure. That is why it is so important to start the Summer School for youth in Latin America, in order to form young entrepreneurs between now and May 2011.

3- The Bolivian EoC Commission worked well and has a very precious experience today. Now, this experience must be placed in common, at the service of all of Latin America.

4- The EoC is in a "take-off" moment, and like an airplane that takes off and either leaves the earth or falls, the EoC must also "begin to fly". Today, the EoC in Argentina, in Bolivia and in all of Latin America must take flight and show itself to the Church and to society. We must think big and work towards a "change in scale", not so much in quantity but in "quality". Either the EoC takes off, or, as Chiara Lubich said, we will lose an appointment with history. Time is little, and we cannot lose this appointment.

5- How do we do all this? We cannot give in to tiredness! The life that multiplies each day shows us this. If we want the EoC to take off, we must live life with this mission and not rest until this has come about. We will get tired, but life will surely be more entertaining.







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