Querido Fr Giuss…

The experience of a new beginning for a group of kids in Belo Horizonte, who encountered GS at the Alvorada Center, communicated through their letters


“Cristina had me listen to a piece of music by Beethoven. That music, which I did not know since I have never listened to classical music, described me, my wish for happiness, my fear of the future, my profound desire to know my father. One evening, during the vacation, I explained this piece to everybody. There, in that moment, I realized that with all the muddle I have in my heart, everyone there, especially the adults, loved me. And so I made a decision: I’ll never leave them! This decision became even stronger when I received Baptism and First Communion.”

“When I happened on School of Community, they were reading Chapter 10 of The Religious Sense, where you talk about the wonder of the things around us that are ‘other’ from us. I tried to imagine the scene of the newborn baby, and my thought was that these words are not true, because my only desire at birth would have been to go back into my mother’s womb and stay there. My neighborhood is violent, and it seemed to me that I had already seen too much. I don’t really know why I went back. The fact is that in a year they helped me to study, they taught me that working is great, and thanks to them I have found a job as an errand boy in a bank. Looking at all this, I live the wonder you told us about.”

“When I get up in the morning to go to the private school where, through my godfather, I was given a scholarship, it is still dark. The first thoughts that pop into my head are that I am alive and I want to be happy, that I have friends, and that the day before I caused some trouble. Then I give thanks and ask for help. What is the beginning of your day like?”

“We went to see Lake Pampulha, in Belo Horizonte. None of us had ever seen it because the bus is expensive and at home we don’t have much money. In front of this beauty, Tatiana was moved to tears and said, matter-of-factly, ‘The lake is not like rice and beans!’ What she meant was that you never get your fill of beauty!”
Daiene and Tatiane

Osias, Everton, Daiene… and the others

You never get your fill of the wonder and simplicity of the beginning, even 6,000 miles away, even after forty years of Movement life. It is like a regenerating breath of fresh air, a breeze that gets rid of the veneer of habit and the “been there, done that” which at times obscures our daily life and our relationships.
This is what we perceive, reading the crystalline, simple letters written to Fr Giussani by Jonathan, Osias, Everton, Daiene, and Tatiana, who have begun the GS experience through the Alvorada Center, founded in December 1999.
But this history began much earlier, when Rosetta started meeting a group of some of the older kids in the after-school program, to teach catechism. Then, in 1998, Cristina arrived to take up the task. “In the beginning, I did not talk about GS,” she wrote us in an e-mail message. “I had them meet older friends and I taught them the meaning of some words like reason, faith, reality, experience, and applying them as a judgment to the aspects of their life as they perceived it. These were never notions or abstractions. Bit by bit they began to invite their schoolmates and the group grew as we met once a week for School of Community, also called the ‘raggio,’ [which means “ray”]. Some help with the secretarial work, others with the songs. I do not have an educational ‘plan’ to apply; I propose to them everything that I am passionate and continue to be passionate about–books, music, and friends–in this history that I am now sharing with these young friends. We began doing charity projects and writing flyers giving a judgment on what happens at school and in the world. What strikes me most is that in this total simplicity I see an affection for Christ and a passion for the world growing.”
Charity projects, flyers, the “raggio”–all are examples of our beginnings, of a total and disarming simplicity that sends all of us back to our own beginning, one, ten, twenty years ago. It happens in Belo Horizonte, as in the rest of the world, “that the affection for Christ and passion for the world may grow”–in other words, that we may be happy.