SO THAT ALL MAY BE ONE
Edited by the international secretariat of the Gens Movement
Our identification with Jesus Forsaken on the cross always leads us higher with our brothers and sisters next to us. A witness of this reality was Bishop Irineu Scherer, bishop in Brazil, of whom we share a brief profile in these pages, together with some of his experiences of when he was a young seminarian. We also recount some summer activites that made us understand the beauty of living and working together and the importance of little acts of love that can transform evil into good.
«Living, starting from unity, receives its unique form whereby we take the life of the Trinitarian God as our measure. However, the place in which the Trinity is manifested and is revealed to us is the cross. There, the Father’s love is completely given to us; there, in the most radical way, the Son says his yes to the Father in our human existence. There, he is the completely disclosed Word in which he tells us everything he has to about the Father and in which he tells the Father all he has to say about us. There, he tells us and the Father the complete love in his infinite yes. It is the place where he commends the Spirit in the Father’s hands giving him simultaneously to us, so that he may be poured into us. There, the closed heaven is opened, there, we are taken into this heaven and he descends in our midst. If we want to talk about unity and Trinitarian life, the cross is the central point. Only there, where he took every individual within himself, where nothing remains outside his suffering and the transformation of this suffering into pure love, only there, can we find unity. If I should say only one thing, if I should speak of only one thing and look only to that, this one thing would be his cross. This is the place where he made himself close to us up to the abandonment of God; in this way God becomes everything in each thing» (Klaus Hemmerle, Partire dall’unità (Starting from unity), Città Nuova, Roma 1995, p. 109).
The gift of unity
There were 26 of us seminarians, from four continents who met together from July 2 to 15, 2016 at Loppiano, Incisa in Valdarno, for an experience of brotherhood around the Word of God.
The input with which we began these days together came from Pope Francis: «Unity is the gift of God’s mercy.» We gathered the way to go from the Bible: if Babel’s attempt of “unity” ended up in confusion, because it was without God, the unity of Pentecost, gift of the Spirit, preserves diversity and works miracles. We aimed at this unity-gift, guided by Jesus, in the concrete aspects of our life and relationships.
However, we experienced first hand how much culture and history have a weight, sometimes generating prejudices that prevent the welcoming of the other. Seminarians from Haiti and the Dominican Republic explained that their peoples share the same island in the Caribbean, but unity is only territorial, therefore misunderstandings often prevail. The first tension between them began to subside little by little, when they discovered they had many things in common and in daily life there were many opportunities to recognize each other as brothers and live mutual love. Yes, with mercy, unity is possible and diversity is a gift.
From the sharing of experiences with some consecrated members of the Focolare Movement, it was highlighted that mercy must be excercised daily, seeing the other person always with new eyes. So we realized that before choosing the priestly ministry, we need to live a Christian life with God in the first place.
You Got(d) Me
After the experience of the World Youth Day (WYD) in Cracow, more than 600 young people met together on the stupendous mountains of Slovakia. Among us there were also seminarians, Orthodox Christians and young people with no faith. Taking the Pope’s words at the WYD, our intention was to deepen our relationship with God, with ourselves and with the other. This is why we chose a title with a double meaning: You Got(d) Me (You – God – Me, or: You Got Me). A connection to the mountains where God “gets us” in order to speak to us about Himself.
With 13 different languages but with one soul, we got to know and listened to each other in depth living an experience of real sharing. From breakfast time, moments in small groups, outings, Mass, adoration until the evenings each one had time to give a little of their own culture.
Among the many rich feedbacks, someone said, “Even though we have been together for such a short time it seems that we’ve known each other for weeks. It’s a real piece of paradise.”
Dom Irineu Roque Scherer:
man of goodness
Irineu Scherer was born on December 15, 1950 in a small city in the south of Brazil. He understood his vocation to the priesthood very early in life and entered the seminary as a boy. Shortly after, he was invited to get to know the Focolare Movement, participating in a Congress for seminarians. The experience of those days remained impressed in his mind and heart. In fact, as he said himself, “I was struck how the people related to each other, from the joy on their faces, from the life of Ginetta Calliari (one of the first “focolarine” who spread this spirituality in Brazil), from the experiences and harmony of every single detail in the meeting.”
After this first contact, Fr Enrico Pepe – then responsible for the formation of seminarians who adhered to the spirituality of unity – invited him to live for a whole year in a little town of the Movement in Brazil. One of the conditions to be able to participate was that of having the consent of the seminary’s formators. Once this was done, he was really struck, since until that moment he had never heard of the will of God expressed by those in authority.
Once all was agreed, he began his “adventure” in the little town. Among the many activities he carried out, he remembers, “In the evening we were very tired and one of the things we put into practice was “knowing how to listen to the other.” Even if it was very hard, we experienced a great joy in being able to do so.” In this way, he and other seminarians, in trying to live the Word of the Gospel, took even this experience in many parts of Brazil: they were based from North to South. In fact, this country has continental dimensions! They told their experiences with simplicity, how the Word of God can become life in the concrete reality of daily life.
In this way, a small magazine began: Perspectivas de Comunhão. The intial work, which was quite basic, little by little became more serious. Therefore, this magazine still exists today and it is the Brazilian version of the current “Being One” magazine.
Irineu continued his formation in the seminary, always with the lifestyle he learnt from the Focolare Movement. He was ordained a priest in 1978 and twenty years later, he was consecrated bishop of Garanhus, in Brazil. His second diocese was Joinville, where he remained until the end of his life.
The Eternal Father called him on July 1, 2016, after a sudden heart attack, leaving a beautiful witness to all. At his funeral, people said about him, “He will be remembered for his great goodness.” A goodness that had a very deep root.
Communion of goods
«One of my seminary companions had disputed with another. Something that left us all feeling bad. Therefore, I went to one of them to ask what was happening. Even if at first he didn’t want to speak, little by little he opened up and we reached a deep sharing. He told me that he wanted to leave the seminary. In fact, the dispute that had happened was only the consequence of his state of mind. He needed financial help, since his family was poor and those responsible for the seminary had not helped him until that moment. After this conversation, I spoke with the treasurer and together we bought him some things that he lacked. The tension diminished and the dialogue became ever more constructive. Therefore, that same day he went to his other companion with whom he had disputed and asked forgiveness. Since then we became friends.»
Dom Irineu Roque Scherer – Brazil
«Since I entered the seminary we prayed for our perseverance with a litany that ended “until we climb the stairs of the altar.” Therefore, I had created an image of the priesthood linked to status, which highlighted a sacred throne on which the elected climbed. Henceforth, my personal efforts were to reach that goal. Instead, since I met the Focolare Movement, I discovered a new style of priesthood. I learnt that first I had to be a Christian. This meant passing from theory to practice, from “self-indulgence” to action, from egoism to charity. I had learnt that love is either concrete or it doesn’t exist. So, doing as Mary, the servant of the Lord, did, at the end of my life I’ll be able to sing the Magnificat like her.»
Dom Irineu Roque Scherer – Brazil
Poor Church for the poor
«Since I’m a student in Rome I have the temptation to forget about the poor. However, Pope Francis’ call always reminds me that the Church is “poor for the poor.” Last summer I went to Switzerland to live with a group of priests linked to the Focolare Movement. They gave me a great example of how to live the Christian life practically. At the end of my stay, the local parish community gave me some money for any needs I may have. Thinking of the example they gave me, I decided to send what I had received as a gift for the poor children in my country. In this way, I lived the word of Jesus, “You received without payment; give without payment” (Mt 10:8). This left a profound joy in me.»
J. R. – Egypt