8/10 June 2018 III International Congress in Miami (Florida)
In Miami, Florida, from 8 to 10 June the third international conference entitled:
“Do not be afraid of being a saint and apostle of the third millennium”
An intense three-day event in Florida, invited by the young congregation of American sisters to a congress dedicated to the theme of holiness, Maria Teresa, Chicca and Franz were able to offer their testimony to about 5,000 people, who arrived in Miami from various U.S. cities and Latin-American states. The event, which was also attended by other witnesses (like the daughter of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla and the postulator of Pope John Paul II), also hosted many young people, with whom it was possible to have informal meetings. On Sunday there was also a small meeting with the local community of the Focolare Movement.
A weekend of miracles and graces
We often think of miracles as astonishing, life-changing events that are overwhelming and impossible to ignore. That is true, but if we stop to take time from our busy day to notice the small things that happen in our lives and around us, we realize that we witness miracles every single day.
The conference was intensely fascinating. When our three friends took the stage on Saturday night, a special silence took over the 5,000-member audience. During their introduction alone, we learned of another miracle that Chiara Luce had operated on one of the sisters leading the meeting. “Chiara Luce never ceases to amaze us in consistently new ways”, said Franz, who defines himself as agnostic. However, one would never think so by listening to him speak of his friendship with Chiara and the wonders God operated through her. “She told me she would take care of me after her passing… it took 30 years… but here I am, I can tell you she is always with me…”
As always, Maria Teresa lovingly gave her life on stage for all of us, as she once again revisited the astounding and painful moments of her daughter’s life, leaving those who did not know them in reverential awe. The atmosphere changed drastically right after the event – dozens of ecstatic youth holding Chiara Luce’s prayer cards gathered outside the auditorium and surrounded Maria Teresa asking for selfies and autographs. A youth minister, accompanying a group of them to a camp, told us that he talks to young people about our Blessed Chiara during confirmation class, and he has now “lost count of all the youth that have chosen Chiara Luce as their confirmation name”. Thanks to moments like these, Chiara Luce is everywhere, as the desire for holiness grows – especially among youth – despite everything that is happening in the world today. On second thought, it is growing because of what is happening today. Miracles happen to those who believe in them, but sometimes, like in this case, even non-believers admit to them.
The weekend culminated in a simple and intimate family moment, as Maria Teresa, Chicca and Franz met with a group of members of the Focolare Movement. Simple questions and equally simple answers helped participants go further into depth in this teen’s story that has changed so many lives. Chiara’s miracles brought everyone together and they keep happening in our daily lives, all we need to do is pay attention. Willa Cathur said it best: “Where there is great love, there are always miracles”.