FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What does Focolare mean?
Focolare (pronounced foh-koh-la-ray) is an Italian word that means hearth or fireplace. This was what people in Trent, Italy called the first community that Chiara Lubich (kee-ara loo-bik) and her closest friends started.
Ever since its beginnings, the Focolare community is at its best when it has the warmth of a family. Its message of oneness and unity, inspired by the Gospel, has also been likened to a fire that inflames hearts and enlightens minds.
Is the Focolare a religious movement
The Focolare is a spiritual movement, and most people who are a part of it are religious. But it is also open to those who have no religious affiliation. The original inspiration for Focolare was given to Chiara Lubich and her early friends, who were Roman Catholic. Eventually, the spirituality grew to include people from other world religions and others with no religious tradition.
Is the Focolare a church?
The movement is not in itself a church; it’s a worldwide community. The Catholic Church approved it officially as an ecclesial movement, but there are people with no religious affiliation, believers from many of the world’s faith traditions, and Christians of a variety of denominations who are part of the movement as well. If they belong to one, each goes to their own church or place of worship.
What denomination are you?
The Focolare is not a denomination; it belongs to all denominations. It began among Catholics in Northern Italy, so in many parts of the world the majority are Roman Catholics. But around the world, there are Christians from many different denominations, members of other world religions, and others who are not religious who are part of the movement for unity.
What’s the relationship between the Focolare and the Catholic Church?
Focolare started in the Catholic world, so at first everyone in the movement was Roman Catholic. But it soon spread to people from other Christian denominations, beginning in Germany in the 1940s and 1950s. In the 1970s other religions began to be involved, as well as others without any religious affiliation. Focolare was first officially approved by the Holy See as an ecclesial movement in 1962.
Do you have to be Catholic or Christian to be part of the Focolare?
Being Christian or Catholic is not required. There are people with no religious affiliation or tradition, as well as the faithful of other world religions, who are part of the Focolare too.
What age do you have to be to get involved?
Focolare is not limited to any age group, and there are specific programs organized by age, calling, or stage of life. For example, there are groups for children, teenagers, young adults, married couples and the elderly, as well as others for health professionals, bishops, or artists.
What kind of activities do you organise?
The Focolare is a worldwide community with its own spirituality and culture. In fact, you could say that the Focolare builds culture: a culture of giving, a culture of unity. In practice, this leads to different social projects and youth and outreach activities that are organized locally. These will vary depending on where they are, but a common activity worldwide is small group meetings where people come together to share how they live out the monthly Word of Life and support each other.
What is the main focus of the Focolare?
The Focolare is focused on establishing dialogue between people in four key areas: with people who have no religious affiliation, among believers of the world’s religions, between Christian churches, and within the Catholic Church. The goal is to overcome divisions and promote unity.
Where do you meet?
Since Focolare has a culture all its own, the best way to learn about it is by experiencing it with people who share its spirituality. Small groups tend to form locally, and larger group gatherings are commonly held from time to time as well. The Focolare’s traditional yearly gathering, the Mariapolis, is usually held in individual states or countries around Oceania. Every few years we have a large gathering for everyone around Oceania.
What is a Focolare house?
At the heart of the Focolare community are the focolarini, single women and men who formally commit to live Focolare spirituality together in a shared household. Their homes are scattered throughout the world, are single-gender, and usually include people from multiple nationalities. Each also includes married people, who share the commitment but live in their own homes with their own families.
Do I have to pay a subscription or fee to be part of the Focolare?
There is no membership fee or requirement to pay anything to be part of the Focolare. In as much as you live Focolare spirituality, you are a part of the movement for unity.