01-04-2007 - Traces, n. 4
Family Seminar

the Other with Gratuitousness

Twenty-five years ago the Welcoming Families Association was born.
Originally, only adoptive and foster families comprised it. Through the years, it opened up to other forms of welcoming

by Marco Mazzi*

The Welcoming Families Association is composed of families who, temporarily or permanently, open their homes to one or more people in need of a family. Feeling welcomed and loved is an experience necessary to the integral growth of a person, and the family is the first naturally welcoming environment. Society considers the family experience to be private, to be lived in a closed and jealous manner, and it influences family structure by proposing models that are very far from tradition. The association aims to help deepen and spread the value of the family as a social subject. The statute indicates the goal of the association: “To value, support, and spread the welcoming of minors and adults who are in difficulty, starting from the Christian experience of life,” through the most diverse forms, particularly adoption, foster care, hospitality toward “weak” members of the family, and toward adults. The main objective is therefore to support those family units who open their houses to people in need: children with troubled families, elders who are alone, relatives of sick people who are treated in hospitals far away from their cities, students or young individuals far from their families. The association has at its heart the intention to continuously accompany and educate the adult in the experience of welcoming, constantly strengthening the reasons for it through a web of friendships which allows, among other things, a reciprocal exchange of help and concrete daily actions.

Carriers of a good
Hospitality can therefore take on many forms. What is common among all the forms is the opening of the family circle to welcome a “stranger” in the daily life of the house, someone who does not fit in to the current model of the nuclear family. At the center of this great web of solidarity there is a friendship among absolutely normal people, who fully live their vocations as husbands, wives, and parents, and who understand more deeply what it means to welcome.
“This awareness made us capable of a stable commitment over the years, through the communication of a conception of the value of the person as unique and unrepeatable, carrier of a desire for fulfillment and happiness and for a constructive task in the world. The starting point of our initiative has not been the negativity of the circumstances of those seeking hospitality in our homes. Rather, it was feeling ourselves to be carriers of a good, through the experience of being welcomed ourselves, which is a condition necessary to perceive the richness and value of your own person, your being. The experience we are talking about is therefore generated by the example of a humanity capable of welcoming, that aroused in others the same capacity, by communicating the reasons and revealing the nature of the person and of his need. For these reasons, the availability of the individuals and of the welcoming families didn’t happen as the result of a singular predisposition, of an isolated heroic gesture, or as the consequence of a special commitment, but as the expression of a dimension of the person that is generated by the awareness of being welcomed ourselves, opening up to the ability of welcoming others, without any expectation. What emerges from the accounts of members of the association is that they began welcoming because they had an experience of affection in their own families, with the home as a place carrying within itself a positivity that could be made available to others as well. Welcoming is thus expressed through gestures of hospitality whose value lasts forever, because they do not depend upon expected results, but they concern the nature of the involved subjects. It’s first and foremost the encounter between people; the form may change but it will remain in time as an indelible fact.”
(From La Dimora Ritrovata [The Rediscovered Home], published by Liguori)

*President of the Welcoming
Families Association

Via Macedonio Melloni 27 - 20129 Milano - Italy / Tel. 02/70006152 / fax 02/70006156 e-mail: segreteria@famiglieperaccoglienza.it / www.famiglieperaccoglienza.it