Mariapolis Retreat for 600 youth in Nigeria

15 February 2017

The creative Mariapolis Retreat for a whole school (600 boys from 9 to 18 years old, including their professors and the staff) was established from the strong unity among the members of the movement.

During the updating in November at Abuja, the community of Jos (one of the more stable communities in the country) they expressed this desire to conduct a Mariapoli as retreat for all students of a Catholic school-college in the diocese Jos. However, they have decide that it would not be possible without the full support of the Opera (Focolare Movement), considering the big number of students. Dr. John Maigari, a member of the Focolare Movement, provided all the necessary agreements with both the college and the ecclesial authorities he is now retired but for many years he has been the head of the education department of the diocese.

The members of the various communities all over Nigeria showed their willingness to support their brothers and sisters of the Jos community. From Abuja it took them 4 hours and 12 hours from Onitshia, despite the distance, the unity between these communities¬- which is the outcome of their love for Jesus forsaken by giving and losing, to be open to the will of God- and it has been an important moment. Also, the Lagos community was represented by the Gen who are now living in the Gen house in Onitsha. All members were present form ages 16 to 74, from various professions, tribes, nationalities and environments, which gave a special testimony to love without boundaries.

Dr. Maigari- a former student and former president of the school hoped that the students and staff would experience what he felt in his first Mariapolis, that we are all brothers and that everyone is called to serve one another in love and humility. With this, you can see that one of the most significant elements of the program was the group activities gathered by students of various ages along with teachers and workers and members of the movement. They worked together and divided the work that was needed to do, like cooking, washing the dishes, arranging the rooms, cleaning the bathrooms and the entire area. For some, it was their first time to do those chores. You can imagine the impact for the students when they noticed that in the first day, especially when they saw the President of the College washing dishes with his group.

Summary of some key points:

• A local community (Jos) that decades to live the Ideal with fidelity, depth and generosity.
• A bright idea that came from this community, that it is an expression of a life of true relationships and professional dedication to education.
• A “team” of the Focolare consists of all vocations and the Gen, the Volunteers and focolarina and focolarino and the married focolarina and focolarino, travelled considering the distance just to support a local community. All united to answer the call, to live the Ideal all together in Mariapolis, with the whole school, for 3 days. In this environment, Chiara’s spirituality of unity, was transmitted through the words and actions of the Nigerian Movement members of all ages and all vocations, especially through the real unity among themselves, has touched their hearts and minds.
• Someone commented that it was a strong “temporary Focolare” in action, bringing many results.

A married focolarina reflected that this region, they have been facing violence between Christians and Muslims in the past years, and despite that, she felt that God has chosen a school with so many guys and because of this program, they have experienced “a different way”, “The art of love power of God and of unity.

The boys could write a great book about their impressions and experiences. Many say that this retreat has changed their lives. They were impressed by the unity that they felt and they experienced with the team that came in their school. “The first moment you set foot in our school, someone has already called them the “stars””.

Impressions:

Musa Joshua Hyelsinda, 18
My impression of this retreat is that it has really changed my life in many ways, for example, to know myself. I used to get angry easily, but now I’ve learned to control myself especially with regard to the younger students, and to serve them

Mitong Dachi, 12
In this retreat, I learned how to love one another. For example, if you have to eat soup and someone asks you and if you do not give, it’s not fair. But if you love and share, and wash (the dishes) with the person, all you have to share it. Thank you.

Dekom Chorb, 18
This retreat has touched my life in a positive way. I would say that it made me love and care about the youngers. I have to tell you so many thanks.

Source: Y4UW International

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