The network Together for Europe, on Madeira Island, is promoting the rosary prayer for peace in Ukraine, on 8 May, at 8 pm (UTC +1), next to the monument dedicated to Our Lady of Peace, in the “Luta Livre”.
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The Munich YMCA hosted the annual gathering of the TfE Steering Committee which was attended by 20 members and several invited guests, from 27 to 29 April 2022.
The participants experienced a wave of fresh air that was brought about by the young adults belonging to the European Network of Communities (ENC), the YMCA, the Focolare and the Schönstatt Movements: they wanted to reflect with the first generation of the network upon the future of ‘Together’. The guests carried out their task with delicacy and respect. Mária Špesová (ENC) from Slovakia said: “In TfE I see something sacred that grew in these 20 plus years. I feel invited to enter this rich experience on my tiptoes”. Also, Georges El Hage (Syndesmos): “Here I feel free to express my thoughts and people listen attentively. We are welcomed with great trust”.
The program of these days included numerous spiritual inputs, prayers and a lively exchange of ideas. The recurrent topic was the war in Ukraine. During the first evening, several persons from Ukraine, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Italy, Poland and Slovenia were linked via zoom to share their experiences of practical help. An Italian participant affirmed: “We are seeing the birth of a new Europe based on solidarity”. And Zsuzsanna Klemencz (Sant’Egidio/Hungary) stated: “We ought to disarm ourselves and let others disarm us. How? By putting aside our arrogance and our hatred”. According to this Hungarian, this is what true disarmament means; this will give rise to a “peaceful people”, disarmed to win the war. Franꞔois Deloors (Sant’Egidio/Belgium) added: “This is the attitude that we strive to constantly put in practice between us, and thus, as TfE, we can offer it to Europe and the entire world”.
“Here I feel at home” was the comment offered by Clotilde Pestana of the Schönstatt Movement. She travelled to Munich with another member of the National Committee of Portugal to help out in the preparation for the “Meeting of the Friends” scheduled for November 2022 in Porto. “Portugal has a lot to offer to Europe: openness, hospitality and a rich culture”. These are but a few of the reasons to hold the 2022 ‘Meeting of the Friends” in the Country on the far western side of Europe.
In 2023, the ‘Meeting of the Friends’ will be held in Romania, in Timisoara. Ilona Toth of the Steering Committee updated us regarding the many conversations and meetings she had in Romania. The encounter with the Orthodox world and the multicultural reality of Eastern Europe, among others, require a detailed and in-depth preparation.
During the meeting it became ever more clear that TfE, faced with the great sufferings in Europe and in the world, is called to support the “incomplete” and to go down the rifts of humanity, which are injustice, hatred and war.
Thomas Römer (YMCA Munich) underlined: “Indeed, most probably we are living through a change of epoch, an epochal upheaval, so to speak. Let’s not allow evil to win, but let’s defeat it with good”.
As Römer noted, death and resurrection are entwined in the history of humanity. He was introducing the participants to the renewal of the Pact of Mutual Love, based on Jn 13, 34. With fraternal encounters with the Risen Lord in the midst, TfE continually witnesses hope for humanity.
Photo: Diego Goller / Group photo: Thomas Barthel, YMCA Munich
On Sunday 8 May 2022, a peace march by foot will start in Strasbourg, leading from Alsace (France) to Germany. “We want to give courage and hope to the people of Europe”. So declares the National Committee of the Together for Europe, France. “Against the background of the many wars, we want to use our own history to remind people that reconciliation is possible.”
The march starts at 5 pm in Strasbourg and ends after 1.5 km in the Friedenskirche in Kehl with an ecumenical prayer. After the prayer – by offering a drink – there will be some more possibility for all participants to meet each other.
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An evening of testimonies and prayers around the “7 Yeses” to Europe.
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This is the theme that Together for Europe chose to celebrate Europe Day with persons that will gather in the Chapel for Europe in Brussels on May 7, at 2 p.m. There will also be the possibility to follow proceedings online.
Movements that adhere to our network have produced short videos that present four initiatives of solidarity.
Pastor Walter Kriechbaum of Munich, Bavaria and his wife Annemarie of the International Association YMCA will share with us their experiences of reconciliation in Germany, Poland, and Ukraine that were aimed to heal wounds caused by World War Two. These will be followed by a brief reflection based on Scripture and faith in Christ and a moment of prayer.
An online webinar will allow participants to offer their input during a sharing session that will follow.
The link to register for the webinar is:
N.B.: The registration is in French, while the webinar will be in French or Dutch.
The link for the event at the Chapel for Europe is:
In Italy, the 2022 Feast of Europe will be celebrated with a video conference on May 8 at 6.30 p.m.
First of all Dr Carina Rossa will give a keynote speech regarding the “Global impact on education” which Pope Francis proposed to the entire education reality in the world. This will be followed by a series of ‘good practices’ of informal education that are being carried out by young people belonging of several Movements in various regions of Italy and Croatia. The last item will be a witnessing that shows the influence that the principles of Together for Europe exert when holding a dialogue with any type of diversity and when striving for reconciliation in situations of conflict.
The link to follow the event is: //www.youtube.com/FocolariRoma/live
Following the prayer meeting we held on March 2, we are once again inviting persons in Germany and Europe to join us for an intense prayer on May 10 at 7.30 p.m. This will be conducted in two languages (German and English); it will go on for about 90 minutes.
Since 1999 has grown Together for Europe, an initiative of already more than 300 Christian communities of different Churches. It is a network which is engaged in shared goals where the charism of each community comes into play. It´s „culture of reciprocity“ contains that individuals and peoples get to know and appreciate each other, become reconciled and support each other.
Free parking: Access via Volksgartenstraße-Afritschgasse
Admission: voluntary donation (approx. € 25 for food and conference fee)
The event will be held in German, translations will be provided.
|9:30 am||Welcome and spiritual impulse|
|10:15 am||Ways out of divisiveness
Exchange of experiences with participants from Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Austria, …
|13:30||Small city tour (optional)|
|15.00||Attunement to the prayer for peace|
|15:30 to 16:30||Prayer for Peace in the Cloister of Minorite Monastery|
Registration for the event
firstname.lastname@example.org until Monday, 2. 5. 2022
with surname, first name, language/s, place of residence, country
Overnight reservation (if required)
email@example.com, Ms Anna Gigl
Exerzitienhaus der Barmherzigen Schwestern, Mariengasse 6a, 8020 Graz
(Near the main station, 15 minutes walk to the Minorite Monastery)
COVID-19 measures according to the current regulations, in any case negative PCR test not older than 72 hours or daily negative antigen test.
Organiser: Together for Europe – Austria together4europe.org/Österreich
With the kind support of the Diocese of Graz-Seckau
Download the invitation (in German):
Luigino Bruni is Professor of Political Economy at LUMSA, Rome, and also teaches at the University Institute Sophia in Loppiano (Florence). Moreover, he is the Scientific Director of The Economy of Francesco and President of the School of Civil Economy.
He analysed the European economy starting from its Christian roots. He then reflected upon several positive impulses that can be derived from the pandemic tragedy. He underlined the present involvement of young people which is providing new hope and a stimulus for personal commitment that combines the love of the Earth to that of Mankind.
Quite interesting was his interpretation of the quotation from Joel, 2, 28: “If the old people are still able to dream (to believe in a better world), then the young people will prophesize (they will undertake great projects)”.
Here is the transcription of his talk (translation from Italian). It’s worth it!
You can also see the video on youtube (in Italian). Click here>>
Photo: L. Bruni //www.edc-online.org / nature: K. Brand
This was the introductory question with which the Austrian professor, Dr. Petra Steinmair-Pösel, started her contribution during the Zoom conference. The conference was based in Graz and was held to mark Europe Day 2021. She quoted the Schumann Declaration (May 9, 1950): “World peace cannot be preserved without creative efforts that are as great as the threat”. According to the Professor, these words are still valid today and thus the question is: what creative efforts ought to be done by our generation?
Dr Steinmair- Pösel proposed the three steps: seeing – judging – acting. “Seeing” today’s great challenges: the pandemic, the fear of the others and therefore the building of defence walls. “Judging”: what does Europe need today? Here the Professor spoke about the need of dialogue, which is able to change life. And lastly, “Acting”, which means: to dialogue while keeping an interior silence, respecting the others and being open to learn from them.
According to Dr Steimair-Pösel, dialogue is the personal and cultural bases that allows us to seek together new solutions in a creative way; this entails nurturing mutual trust and working together. In this way we will create the conditions for “a discussion that unites us all”.
Download the full text here:
During the video link-up on May 9, Europe Day, Luigino Bruni, professor of Political Economy at LUMSA (Rome), stated that “In order to build and safeguard Europe we need to celebrate its feasts!” The topic of the video link-up was “For the earth and humanity”; about 1000 persons in Italy took part. He emphasized that from time immemorial feasts have been signs of a common identity. In this time of pandemic, Europe needs more than ever before to be united, to hope and to be open to inspirations. He also underlined: “Many times I have been inspired by Together for Europe… which is one of the most important and prophetic inspirations of the New Millennium”.
About 200 European citizens from Italy, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and Austria were connected to Graz for a ZOOM meeting. Dr. Petra Steinmair-Pösel, Professor at the Innsbruck (Austria) University, spoke about the importance of dialogue for Europe. She insisted that dialogue is neither a discussion nor a debate, but the readiness to welcome the other. “Dialogue brings us together. From us [Christians] humanity expects compassion and solutions for the problems linked to migration, the ecology and the crisis of meaning”. From where do we start? “From each one of us: by listening and respecting the others who are different from me and, above all, to learn from them”. Click here to download the complete text>> 20210507 TfE Graz_Text Steinmair-Pösl
In France, Jean-Dominique Giuliani, president of the Robert Schumann Foundation, urged all Europeans to enhance their self esteem. He wanted to inject optimism and enthusiasm: “Europe cannot be built in a jiffy. Together, however we are strong. We have the same currency, the same common market and we are all committed to safeguard our environment. Our health system is good”.
Together for Europe in Belgium invited the bishop of Liege, Mgr Delville, and the Flemish member of the European Parliament, Cindy Franssen, for a meeting at the “Chapel for Europe”. The lively dialogue was centred on Pope Francis’ social encyclical ‘Fratelli tutti’. They both underlined the importance of a new creativity: one that is contemplative and, at the same time, active. While presenting their project #sauvonsnosaines the St Egidio youths exclaimed: “ça suffit ! Il est temps de changer !” Especially during this time of pandemic they want to provide a voice and support to the older generation.
The young adults of Together for Europe, too, marked the May 9 Feast. In sharing the concrete actions they undertook in their respective Countries and Movements, they have shown their professional approach in various spheres of society: law (Germany), ecology (Italy, Austria), politics (Belgium, France), care of the aged (Belgium), help to refugees and social misfits (Netherlands, Greece, Germany). ‘Generation Y’ came about at the end of the last century; they consider Europe as their home, in which they can freely roam about with a computer under their arm – the so-called ‘digital nomads’. A young Dutch man said: “In Europe we have the possibility of knowing each other well and to be together, even if we are far from each other. This is important, because one can only love what one knows”.
The 2021 Feast of Europe found the support of the prayers of many. The young people met for an hour: “My Europe – We pray for Europe”. In the Czech Republic, the Schoenstatt Movement, the St Egidio Community and the Focolare Movement held a prayer novena in preparation for May 9. In Switzerland, too, where May 9 has no special significance, Christians belonging to various Movements have organized a prayer evening to ask God for strength and mercy in this difficult time of a global pandemic. Also, an ecumenical prayer service based on the ‘7 Yeses’ was held at the Gospel House in Klagenfurt (Austria).
Photo: Ursula Haaf (©Together for Europe)
Together for Europe (TfE) will hold various events between May 7 and 9. Jurists, theologians and MEP’s, together with students and adults from various faculties will discuss the present situation of our Continent, while suggesting concrete solutions for the problems that the world is presently facing.
Between May 7 and 9, more than 50 Christian Communities and Movement will share their initiatives in favour of their brothers and sisters in need: by enhancing awareness through discussions, prayer links across Europe, as well as concrete actions such as those regarding the environment (for example, rubbish collection to protect the environment). Indeed, as a member of the preparatory group in Belgium put it: “We want to show the beauty of the Christian message in a concrete way!”
In short video clips young people and young adults of diverse Movements, Communities and from different countries, gif their vision of Europe: “My Europe”>> and on 9 May they will come together for prayer>>. Moreover, in a webinar young people explored the Christian roots of ‘taking care’>>
TfE in Italy>> will hold an interesting online symposium: “For the Earth and Humanity”.
The Austrian group, from Graz>>, will link up with Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and Italy to favour a better acquaintance by holding a deep “conversation that unites us all”.
In the “Chapel for Europe”, Brussels>>, 13 Christian Movements of TfE will offer a common reflection regarding the political and ecclesial spheres.
The conference in France>> will be addressed by the President of the Robert Schuman Foundation.
Collected by Beatriz Lauenroth
On Facebook I read that a housewife, seeing the tragic situation in hospitals due to the pandemic, decided to make cakes for the doctors and nurses. Now, several thousand persons and associations have joined in and are covering more than 40 hospitals, thus creating a true network in various cities of the Country. This is what happens when a person, responding to an appeal by a first aid department, started to do something! And this is then taken up by others who are willing to join in. At the end of the day, everyone is happy, those who received as well as those who donated!
Today our calendar is full of feast days that remind us of some event, or the common good of a Country or a Continent or of the entire planet. Theses have become a cultural legacy of whole populations thanks to the initiative of a person, or a group, a Church or an Association.
Even May 9, Feast of Europe is one of these, as well as the United World Week, which was started by the young people of the Focolare Movement to make many others aware of the need for peace and brotherhood among peoples.
This year, between May 1 and 9, various events can be followed on the website of “United World Project”>>. Among these there is an event in which even Together for Europe was involved in its preparation. In what way? We asked young people what they would like to say to other young people, what lived-out experiences they can offer as “care” of the others – since the slogan of the Week is #daretocare? When one listens and sees these young people expressing their ideals, hope in the future is rekindled.
Am you still young – or, were you once a young person? Then you can ask yourself: what can I do, here and now, for the others? Those who understand English are invited to click on //bit.ly/whocares8may, and there they may find a vaccine dose… not against Covic19, however.
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This is a novena that is being held
Persons are invited to join in at 9 p.m. via ZOOM and pray together for Europe.
This initiative is the fruit of the collaboration and communion between the Schoenstatt Movement, the St Egidio Community and the Focolare Movement present in the Czech Republic.
On Saturday May 8, from 9 till 11 a.m., the Czech Republic and six other nations – Croatia, Italy Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary- will link up with Graz (Austria) for a common feast of Europe.
The local group of Together for Europe
Download the flyer with access data here:
The Christians are conscious of the importance that the work started in 1950 with the “Schuman Declaration” ought to be continued; to this end they want to make their voice heard in this great debate that will continue till May 2022.
The conference of Mr Giuliani, together with Gérard Testard (French, and member of the International Steering Committee of Together for Europe), will allow us to discern the resources available to Europe in a rapidly changing world, where only a joint response may efficaciously tackle the economic, ecological and health crisis.
Information/Registration: Ensemble pour l’Europe France
Leaflet (in French) can be downloaded from here:
Press release (in French) can be downloaded from here:
Together for Europe, France
Here you can watch the event again on youtube: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=01tvdG6uB7c
The theme will be “Unity and Reconciliation”.
The programme includes a contribution by Mgr Delville, Bishop of Liège, and another by Cindy Franssen, a Belgian MEP. They will take an in-depth look at some aspects of Pope Francis’ latest encyclical Fratelli tutti.
Several Communities and Movements will present various initiatives, especially those in favour of our Belgian needy brothers and sisters. “We want to highlight the beauty of the Christian message!”: this is how a member of the preparatory put it.
The third part will be spent in prayer.
Download the invitation (available in French and Dutch)
Photo: Wikipedia, author: ©Fabre
Once again, Covid-19 is preventing the holding of the ‘Meeting in Graz’ on the occasion of the 2021 Europe Day. Nevertheless, a Zoom meeting will cater for the manifold friendships:
Topic: “A conversation that brings us all together” (Laudato si‘ 14). DIALOGUE
Guest speaker: Dr. Petra Steinmair-Pösel
Ecumenical prayer with Bishop Dr. Wilhelm Krautwaschl, the superintendent Mag. Wolfgang Rehner, and Pastor Bruno Gasper
This is being organised by the Styria Team of Together for Europe
Bookings at Elfriede Palt: firstname.lastname@example.org stating name and surname, language and respective Community/Movement
You can download the invitation in the diverse versions from here:
IT IS POSSIBLE TO REVIEW THE EVENT (VIDEOCONFERENCE) ON YOUTUBE: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5W0OfgJ0LY
Giuseppe Del Coiro on behalf of the Italian National Team
The leaflet (in Italian) with the details of how to join in can be downloaded from here:
We will tackle these topics amongst others. We will be joined by Jeff Fountain professor from the Schuman Centre for European Studies in Amsterdam.
To register please write to email@example.com
Beatriz Lauenroth, Dutch MfE Team
In Italy, more than 900 Friends of Together from all over the Country joined in a Zoom conference. The theme was: “Integral ecology: a sustainable utopia for Europe”; two keynote speeches dealt with how to work for the planet’s better present and an even better future by respecting nature and persons. The meeting was concluded with an ecumenical prayer with representatives of numerous Churches and Communities, and with the renewal of the ‘pact’ of mutual love.
Two conferences, one based in Utrecht and another in Amsterdam, were held in The Netherlands. “Utrecht in Dialogue” and “Pax” provided small online groups with food for thought during their lively discussions regarding ideas about Europe. Many young people took part.
The ‘Schuman Centre’ discussed the present situation of the Continent. 70 years ago, Robert Schuman announced his plan to start laying the foundations for a European Home embracing 500 million inhabitants. Jeff Fountain, the founder of the ‘Schuman Centre’, which was established ten years ago, concluded the discussion with an unusual form of prayer. He sang in English on the tune of “Ode of joy”, the Europahymnus, a rewritten interpretation: “With the vision now before us of a true community / Of all European peoples, rich in our diversiy / Let us pray and work together for our solidarity / Peace, equality and freedom, rooted in your charity.”
The City of Graz was linked to six Countries for an exchange of lived out experiences. The Friends of Together in Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary and Northern Italy shared how they were living the Covid-19 crisis in the spirit of mutual support. At the end, Bishop Wilhelm Krautwaschl thanked the participants for their witnessing as an international community, and concluded saying: “In spite of our differences and separations, through the cross we are all united one to the other”.
The YMCA of Esslingen-Stuttgart thought that at the planned prayer meeting, only locals would participate. However, when they moved the event online, the Friends of Together were linked to other Movements in diverse German, Italian and Dutch cities. Indeed, for all of them the evening turned out to be a true experience of Togetherness.
In France there were 34 link-ups scattered in Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, Toulouse and Tours that formed a national network that manifested the diversities between the groups, and, at the same time, a profound mutual esteem. Gérard Testard (Efesia) encouraged the participants to make the ‘French voice’ ever more present in Europe. One of the participants concluded: “It was a moment of fraternity and trust in Europe that filled us all with a new hope”.
The events will be available online in the next few days on:
Indeed, we really put our faith in this online opportunity: to be connected just as nature is connected! We had faith in God’s creativity, and within a few days, the Holy Spirit used our ‘few loaves and fishes’ (cf. John 6,9) to bring about an impressive ecumenical event, at which several Christian leaders took part. Their presence all over Italy is the fruit of a long and loving endeavour of communion, dialogue and nurturing of relationships that the various Committees have carried out in every Region. The commitment to build unity was evident in every word, gesture and expression.
The idea was the brainchild of the Rome Committee of the ‘Together for Europe’ network. Then the other Committees in Italy came together to organize this online event, and, notwithstanding the fact that they never met, they all lived a profound experience of brotherhood and the impression was that they have been working together for two months, and not for just two weeks. In practice they lived out among themselves the ‘Pact of mutual love’ (inspired by Jn 13, 34), which is, after all, the foundation of all that is done under the auspices of Together for Europe.
The initiative was underwritten by 25 Movements and Communities that adhere to TfE; there were about 500 links connected from all over the Country, and this added solemnity to the Feast of a United Europe! Taking part, among many others, was the Hon. Stefano Fassina and several local administrators. Also, there were 45 ministers of Christian Churches and Communities. Much appreciated were the messages sent by Bishop Giovanni Traettino (Founder of the Pentecostal Church of Reconciliation), which was read out by Pastor Mauro Adragna (C.R.R. Palermo) and by Pastor Luca Maria Negro, President of the Federation of the Evangelical Churches in Italy.
While commemorating the 70th anniversary of the ‘Schuman Declaration’, the event focused upon the ‘Yes to Creation’, that is, how to protect the natural environment, which is a gift given to us by God, and which we ought to safeguard for future generations. The overall title of the keynote speeches was: “Integral ecology: a sustainable utopia for Europe”. Reflections were offered by Stefania Papa, professor and expert on ecology, and Luca Fiorani, a physicist, who is an expert on climate; there were also video messages by Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew I and Antonio Gutierrez (Secretary General of UNO) on the occasion of the 50th Earth Day. All these instilled an awareness that together we can work for a better present and an even better future, within a framework of respect, cooperation and reciprocity.
It was in this spirit that the ecumenical prayer was lived out by the representatives of the various Churches. Dr Costantino Vacros (of the Greek Orthodox Church) started by reading Genesis 1, 26 – 31, which was followed by a rich input by the Baptist Pastor Gabriela Lio, President of the Federation of Evangelical Women in Italy. We then prayed with Pastor Nino Genova (New Pentecost Movement) and with diverse representatives of Catholic Movements and Communities. Then all together – joyfully, in full harmony and solemnly – we renewed the Pact of mutual love. We sealed that day with the Our Father, in order to remind ourselves that we are ONE and that together we can bring about a New Humanity.
Emanuela Cannella – Press Office TfE, Rome
You can review the event on facebook TfE Rome>> and on youtube>>.
We propose here some of the still-images made by Emanuela Cannella and Emanuela Fioravanti.
Therefore, toward the end of March, our regional team of Together for Europe decided to postpone the meeting for next year, and to offer a simple substitute program via Skype.
Nevertheless, the ‘makeshift solution’ resulted in an hour-long online meeting with about 100 participants from Austria and five other neighbouring Countries. The participants included Christians belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church and Communities of the Free Churches.
Brief inputs from Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and Carinthia provided an updated and authentic insight regarding daily life during the Covid-19 crisis. All the participants were grateful that they could mutually share their experiences and thus become aware of how others are living in their respective Countries. Thus means that, now, they can pray even better for each other.
The diocesan Bishop Wilhelm Krautwaschl, too, took part in this online meeting. He thanked for this experience of communion that goes beyond borders, and concluded by saying “In spite of our differences and separations, through the Cross we are all united one to the other”.
Naturally, a video conference call cannot take the place of a Day Meeting. Yet, in the present circumstances, by the way this Europe Day 2020 was lived out, Together was strengthened. It was, indeed, a successful preparation for the Day Meeting scheduled for May 8, 2021, when we could, hopefully, truly say: “Grüß Gott hier im Rathaus Graz …!” – “Welcome to Graz Town Hall!”.
The Together for Europe Team, Austria.
We have been journeying together for the last six weeks. During this shared prayerful journey we allowed the Word of God and our reflection regarding Europe (2016) to inspire us, and we included all European Countries in our prayers. Our main objective was to strengthen our yearning to be all one and to mould Europe with the power of prayer.
May 9, Europe Day
Our journey will take us toward May 9, 2020, Europe Day. This Day ought to be a day of encounters between Communities, Movements and Countries. This year, however, due to Covid-19, we cannot gather physically in churches and squares, or hold social events, conferences and prayers.
This does not mean that the Day’s activities have been cancelled; on the contrary: a lot of creativity is being expressed in digital conferences and prayers, discussion groups and on-line dialogue between Communities, Movements and politicians that will be start, for example, from Utrecht, Graz, Rome, Lyon and Esslingen. Here all linguistic and National barriers will be overcome and thus we can reflect together about Europe and to keep the Continent in our prayers. All relevant information can be found on the site “Europe Day 200”>>
Letter from Pope Francis
All our events linked to May 9 have a papal blessing. Indeed, Pope Francis, on 22 April, sent a letter to the Secretariat of Together for Europe in Rome in which, after thanking us for our letter of April 12, he encouraged in the service to the common good, inspired by values of solidarity, peace and justice. He pray for us and he warmly sents his apostolic blessing to all of us. The letter, which has been translated into 4 languages, can be downloaded here in English.
Sr. Nicole Grochowina, Christusbruderschaft Selbitz
Photo Pope Francis: Pixabay/Manfred Kindlinger
Once you register on //www.utrechtindialoog.nl/bijeenkomsten/europa/
you will receive an email with the link and the password that will allow you to participate. Participation is free of charge.
Languages: Dutch and English
The European Union, which embraces 513 million inhabitants and a great diversity of Countries, cultures and identities, is a unique project in the history of humanity. It is the greatest peace project that followed the Second World War. Robert Schuman once said: “The European co-operation and integration could not, and must not, be limited to an economic and technical endeavour: it needs a soul, an awareness of its historical roots and its present and future responsibility, together with a political will to serve the common human ideal”. Thirty years ago, in 1989, we witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall: it was a promising event, one that took us all, Easterners and Westerners, by surprise. A wave of euphoria swept over all Europe: peace in Europe, peace for all!
In 2020, 70 years since the Schuman Declaration, we will discuss the development of this human project and, above all, how to keep on making it better. We will speak about culture and values in Europe: how do we deal with our differences and what do we have in common? Which are our historical roots? What kind of future do we desire for Europe? Which are the main challenges that Europe must face? How can we work together to promote a stable peace in Europe, and which values are indispensible for this objective? We will try to answer these questions during our small groups’ discussions.
2.00 p.m. Interactive introduction of the theme
2.15 p.m. Video by PAX: ‘Four future scenarios for Europe in 2040’
2.20 p.m. Dialogue at the ‘tables’ (parallel session with groups’ discussion)
3:20 p.m. Plenary session to gather feedback from the dialogue sessions
Together for Europe in the Netherlands actively supports this initiative, organized by Pax voor vrede en Comité Europadag Utrecht. Hope to see you!
Photos of people: ©Canva
Be not afraid
The appeal to take an interior break has hit the mark. God has taken feasibility away from our hands. He is calling us to undergo a conversion, to do penance, fast and pray. On the other hand, in these last weeks we became more aware of the importance of cohesion and inter-personal relationships! As a result of the spreading of the coronavirus the world is experiencing a flow of life and creativity that bears an only message: Courage – I’m by your side – Be not afraid – Together we shall overcome!
On March 28, Together for Europe started a prayer journey that intends moving us closer to God and to help us deepen our unanimous ‘I Believe’ with reference to Europe. Moreover, how can we use this special time to become more mature and more aware of the gifts that God donated to the Movements to be shared with the others? The Movements and the Communities were given their charism to be equipped to respond to society’s challenges in Europe and for Europe.
A ‘social’ Christian conscience
Back in 2004, in Stuttgart, Chiara Lubich’s words were quite encouraging: “Jesus underlined to the highest degree his commandment: ‘Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another’ (Jn 13, 34). He called this commandment ‘new’ and ‘his’. This commandment of mutual love is not addressed only to individuals, but also to Movements, cities, regions and Countries. The present time demands that the disciples of Jesus acquire a ‘social’ Christian conscience. And, more than ever before, they are urgently called to love the others’ Country, or rather life, as their own”.
Moving online toward May 9
The Friends of Together for Europe are making the most of these extraordinary circumstances by keeping in touch online so that they may be able to journey together and to offer the fruits of their charisms to Europe. They are sharing info regarding events as well as lived-out experiences in their cities in preparation of May 9 (see for example the Graz/Austria event >>)
In this way, we will celebrate an ‘extended’ May 9, the Feast of Europe. It will be a way of staying together for Europe in a virtual network, but one that is incredibly real.
The International Secretariat of Together for Europe
This is what Theresia Fürpass, of the organizing team wrote to us:
“The idea behind the event to mark the Europe Day on May 9, 2020 – “Together for Europe – Meeting in Graz” – was to promote the encounter of Austrians, Italians, Slovenians, Croatians and Hungarians. Read more>>
We were planning to have an in-depth approach to the theme of dialogue; to exchange experiences resulting for the ‘7 Yeses’ of Together for Europe; to offer a guided tour of Graz, and to conclude the day with an ecumenical prayer meeting. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has made all this impossible. Nonetheless, we still want to keep on journeying together seeing that a lot has been already done. Therefore, we are planning to hold this meeting in 2021.
An yet, it would be a great pity if we were to allow the Europe Day to pass without any sign of celebration! Thus, we invite all those who were planning to participate at “Together for Europe – Meeting in Graz” to join us for a Skype Conference all on May 9, from 10 to 11 a.m. Many have already confirmed their participation. Some of us will give an update regarding the present situation in their Country and we shall conclude by praying together the ‘Our Father’.
We are more than convinced that God will show us the way forward. So far, he has guided us in an impressive way, and has made it possible for us to achieve much more than we could have ever imagined”.
The Team of TfE in Austria
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Who could have possibly imagined the scenario that is opening up in many parts of the world, and that the one in Europe would be so particularly impressive?
And yet, even such a sad reality offers new opportunities. This was well expressed by Luigino Bruni, an economist and a journalist, who has been involved with Together for Europe since its birth. He stated: “We are passing through a time of deep uncertainty, which is bringing all of us together all over the world, and we still have no idea when normality could be once again the norm. A forced isolation could be a time during which we could enhance our networks; a time during which we could communicate more with one another to reassure each other that we care and that we want to live these moments keeping the others close to our heart”.
A network of prayer, of shared life experiences, of solidarity, of mutual love… cannot be jeopardized by a virus! Its true threat is that it might separate us from one another. Yes, we need to observe all indications for prevention and abide by what the authorities decide – without, however, forgetting that the other person remains always our brother or sister.
The social networks are already brimming with encouragement and the will to react positively to this global challenge and change it into an opportunity. Will our creativity manage to “invent” new ways to celebrate together May 9?
These lines serve as an introduction to our website dedicated to “Europe Day 2020”. The page will be online at the end of march. There you can discover other informations and news.
On the occasion of the Feast of Europe (May 9, 2020) the Friends of Together for Europe from Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary will come together in the Town Hall of Graz. The meeting will give persons coming from Eastern and Western Europe the opportunity to meet and know each other. With the aim of facilitating the sharing between the participants, there will be a keynote speech about dialogue.
Several Movements and Communities of Together for Europe will share how they live out marriage and family life, the economy, the safeguarding of life and creation, civic responsibilities, etc, as Christians. They would indicate pathways for an ever more liveable Europe.
The guided tours of the city will enhance the participants’ encounter with Austria and among themselves. During the concluding ecumenical prayer meeting in the Landhaushof the pressing issues that Europe is facing will be entrusted to God through thanksgivings and prayers. The program will be enriched with musical performances.
The detailed program:
– Marriage and family life
– Solidarity with the poor
– Civic responsibilities
– Safeguarding life
– Safeguarding creation
– A commitment for peace
– Economy at the service of the human person
Bookings are to be made not later than Sunday April 26, 2020.
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The team of Together for Europe in Styria
Download the invitation (in German):
Photo: Pixabay, Map: by Tschubby – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0
What is it that unites people from Prague, Zurich and Rome with people from Milan, Toulouse, Esslingen and Ljubljana or even people from Padua, Brussels, Selbitz and Palermo? Or people from Lyon, Viterbo and Strasbourg with people from Trent, Paris, Trieste and Klagenfurt? People whose languages, stories, ethnicities and cultures are so different?! Just one desire. To live the people’s ‘beatitude’: “Blessed are the people who belong to the Lord” (cf. Sal 33:12). People that have their own characteristics, their own strong identity, their own unique history and culture, but know that they are first and foremost the people the “Lord has chosen as his inheritance”. Celebrating Europe Day has shown us what the ‘Lord’s People’ look like.
It includes people who above all feel the need to pray together, thus giving those responsible for the different Churches an opportunity to get to know one another and meet the faithful. Others want to participate with concrete actions in their own cities. There are others who prefer to build relationships and by going beyond their own borders, organize meetings enabling different ethnic groups which have historically been in conflict with one another to be reunited. There are those who feel strongly about the social problems and make their commitment in hospitals, with migrants, in families or with young people, involving politicians as well. Some feel particularly called to face the cultural challenges in society and organize round tables on dialogue between East and West in Europe or try to raise public awareness for a fairer economic system and for nuclear disarmament. There are also those who believe in the importance of visibility and organise marches, while others invite experts to speak and encourage reflection on particular subjects. And we could go on… But isn’t this rich diversity of a ‘People’ where each one is nourished by their own charism, and shares the fruits of their charism for the good of all something beautiful and dynamic?
The press also reported on the events: in the Rome edition of the daily newspaper la Repubblica, wrote: “Can Europe be faithful to its original vocation – that of bringing together different traditions, visions and religions? Yes, if it focuses on its Christian roots, which brings individuals, groups, ethnicities and peoples together and highlights the positive aspects of each culture. This is the contribution it makes to humanity, by making the unity of reconciled diversities a reality which becomes a mutual enrichtment”. Vita Trentina, the weekly magazine for the diocese of Trent reported: “Together for Europe reaffirms that the future of Europe lies in a culture of Togetherness. The Palermo Chronicle lists the strong testimonies given to 1,600 people, of how members of various Churches are transforming their cities together. L’Avvenire, a Catholic daily newspaper, reported on their Milan page: “Openness and unity in diversity. This is Europe according to Christians.” The weekly magazine of the diocese of Padua reads: “Padua acknowledges the urgency of the European situation and the desire to unite the civil part with the Christian and religious part.
These are just a few newsflashes from the history of Europe today. Six demonstrations in Austria, four evenings in Vienna with political figures, spoke of a “living Europe, living according to its vocation”. Germany, the four principal French cities, Brussels – the ‘chapel for Europe’, Prague, Klagenfurt and Ljubljana all testified to the fact that “Everything is born, grows, blossoms from the source of “Togetherness”!
Thank you, “Europe Day”, for mobilizing energies, highlighting our continent’s potential and reviving hope for the future.
Ada Maria Guazzo, Ilona Toth
A keynote speech and a debate
On May 9, 2019 the Students’ House in Strasbourg was the venue of an event of Together for Europe. The venue was quite symbolic because, as the speaker recalled, not without emotion, that Robert Schumann used to frequent that place when he was living in Strasbourg.
The entities which organized the event were: ICA (Independent Catholic Action), Terre Solidaire (a committee against hunger and promoter of development), DECERE (Christians for Europe, directed by the Dominicans), Pax Christi and the Focolare Movement. About 100 persons followed with great interest the keynote speech which was delivered by François Brunagel, former head of protocol at the European Parliament. He spoke very clearly about the challenges which Europe is facing. He sustained that the foundation of Europe, immediately following World War Two, may be considered to be a miracle. What was now needed was a new breath to push Europe forward and he went on to describe its most relevant characteristics: peace, prosperity and the respect for human rights. Then two youths shared their experiences: a young man explained how he benefitted from the Erasmus program; and a young woman, a refugee from Cameroon, shared her positive and negative experiences which highlighted the benefits and the limitations found in Europe.
During the debate which followed many points were made clearer, and it was explained what Europe could do and what the individual Countries ought to do. The debate was chaired by the directress of the radio of the Churches in Alsace, and could have gone on forever.
An ecumenical prayer for Europe
On Friday May 10 about 200 persons gather in the «Temple Neuf», a protestant church in the center of Strasbourg, to pray together and to renew their commitment in favor of Europe.
This ecumenical prayer is held every Friday. On that occasion the contents were enriched with intercession for Europe and with two comments about the love of enemies. In fact, after World War Two, the love of enemies was crucial for the foundation of the European Union, which made possible 70 years of peace, and which remains essential if we really want a “Christian Europe”.
A significant moment was that of the peoples’ prayer. In small groups, the participants wrote a wish and a request for Europe. These were written on golden stars which were then placed on the altar covered with a blue cloth: thus the European flag was formed and it looked like a star-filled sky. The final blessing was proclaimed in sever languages by persons coming from Poland, Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy, England and Alsace.
A buffet of wine and cheese produced in the Countries of the European Union was then offered: each item carried a small flag of the respective Country. The representatives of the ecclesial Movements and Associations were glad to be able to know each other better and to obtain some exposure. A dynamic process was set in motion, and it will surely keep going on.
Team of Together for Europe in Strasbourg
©Photo: Students’ House: Michel Batt; Temple Neuf: Olivier Benoît
Among those present there were Gérard Testard, of the European Committee and two members of the National Committee. Besides representatives of the Movements there were other persons who were interested in Europe.
Gérard Testard delivered an illuminating speech through which he explained the importance of Europe, the impact of the European decisions upon our daily lives and the contribution Christians ought to give for the future of the Continent with values such as unity, the common good, solidarity and cooperation. He also spoke about Europe’s mission in the world. The discussion which followed made clearer to all certain issues.
At the end, the Pact of Mutual Love was read out and this was followed with a prayer for Europe, which was written by Gérard Testard (you can read it here in French).
We have experienced together a fantastic a moment of brotherhood. Someone affirmed: “I had no intention of voting; however, after this speech I’ve changed my mind”. And another: “I was very much struck and challenged by the Pact of Mutual Love as the way to bring together Christ to today’s Europe”.
The team of Together for Europe in Toulouse
Download Gérard Testard’s Prayer for Europe (French)
The Together for Europe group in Rome took up the suggestion put forward during the Prague meeting of the Friends which was held last November. This group is made up of 13 Movements. Thus, from March 25 till May 9 the group enlivened celebrations and prayers for our Continent in 5 Basilicas which are linked to the patron Saints of Europe, during which the respective communities were involved.
We wanted the main event marking the Feast of Europe to be prepared in various stages with initiatives linked to the programmatic 7 Yeses (Cf Stuttgart 2007 message). Thus, to present the “Yes to Life and to Family” the program of the ‘Village for the earth’ held at Villa Borghese included a talk by Gianluca de Palo (National President of the Forum of the Associations of Families) on the theme “A stronger the family means a stronger Europe”. The chairperson was Alessandra Balsamo (President of the Forum for the Lazio region) and Vincenzo Bassi delivered a speech interspersed with personal experiences.
A Meeting was held to affirm the “Yes to Creation”; this was organized by the Association ‘The Civilization of Love’ and the theme chosen was “Nuclear peace and environmental challenges”. This Meeting was held in the Vatican on May 8.
That same day, in the afternoon, the main event was in full swing. In the Hall “Spazio Europa” (run by the European Parliament office in Italy and the Representatives of the European Commission) a cultural meeting was held with a keynote speech on the theme “A new economy for Europe in the spirit of the Founding Fathers”. The speaker was Prof. Leonardo Becchetti who teaches Political Economy at the Tor Vergata University in Rome. This was followed by a well-participated debate. The speech was defined as being of a high scientific standard and of great interest to the 100 listeners who also appreciated the ‘teaching’ passion of the speaker: rather than a lesson on sustainable economy, they were regaled with a profound reflection imbued with original and illuminating ideas.
After this cultural event we proceeded toward the most beautiful Basilica of the XII Apostles, where the ecumenical Prayer Vigil was to be held on the text “…each one heard their own language being spoken” (Acts 2:6).
The congregation numbered about 400. Next to the altar, together with the parish priest, Fr Agnello, there were Gabriela Lio (Baptist Pastor), Luca Maria Negro (President of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy), Fr Federico Lombardi (Jesuit), the Archimandrite Simeon Katsinas (of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople), Mgr Gianrico Ruzza who is an Auxiliary Bishop of Rome and the Secretary General at the Vicariate of Rome, and Fr Gheorghe Militaru (representing Bishop Siluan of the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate), who alternated in reading excerpts from the Bible and offered some reflections.
All the input offered was important and interesting. This goes also for the analyses of today’s Europe given by the journalist Enzo Romeo, the presentation of the ‘mothers’ of Europe and the witnessing by Rola, 20, from the Syrian city of Homs who arrived in Italy thanks to the safe human passageways organized from Lebanon by the Community of St Egidio, the Evangelical Churches and the Waldesian Church.
The participation of various Christian Confessions was highly appreciated because this conferred an important ecumenical stamp, thus showing that mutual love is stronger than the differences.
The choir which enlivened the Vigil was made up of 28 singers from 5 different Movements. And what a good job they did!
Team of TfE in Rome (©Photo: Elena Coppola / Maurizio Sabbatucci)
 Anima Europae, International Association of St Catherine, Community of the Fifth Dimension, Community of St Egidio, Community of the Risen Jesus, Community Pope John XXIII, Community God’s Victory, Teresian Institute, Civilization of Love, Focolare Movement, Équipes Notre Dame, Movement For a Better World, Renewal in the Holy Spirit
On April 2, we met to hold an ecumenical prayer meeting in the really magnificent chapel of the Deaconesses of Reuilly in Paris. This meeting was organized and conducted by the Together for Europe group together with the local community.
“Good evening to you all and thank you for being here. In a few days’ time the elections for the European Parliament will be held, and we want to offer to God all the debates and ideas which continually invade our minds and hearts. Thus we want to pray together for Europe”. That was how we welcomed each other.
A brief presentation of this Together for Europe initiative was followed by singing, meditations and moments of silence. The culminating moment was experienced just after the meditation upon the “7 Yeses” proclaimed in the 2007 Stuttgart Message: each person was invited to write, read and then attach his/her prayer on a map of Europe. Our prayer then focused upon the whole world, particularly upon Africa thanks to a singer who has lived in that Continent for many years. When the prayer meeting was over, people found it hard to say goodbye: their relationships of unity had become profound.
On May 4, we celebrated the Feast for Europe in the square of the City Council, just like last year. Together with other 40 Associations which promote Europe, we have set up a stand in the «Village Européen». This allowed us to have numerous contacts with the Parisians and other Europeans who just happened to be there. This year we focused upon the presentation of the “7 Yeses”. Many persons told us that these were exactly what they yearned for.
On May 14, the Emmanuel community took the initiative to organize a Prayer Vigil for Europe in a beautiful Church at Longjumeau, near Paris. This started with a presentation of Together for Europe, which was then followed by some fantastic singing of praise and many prayer intentions for Europe on the basis of the “7 Yeses” which were presented as meditations. The feedback we got after the Vigil convinced us that, since the Vigil was held on the eve of the European elections, that time spent in prayer was a privileged opportunity, indeed necessary, to entrust everything unto the Holy Spirit.
Team of Together for Europe in Paris
Videos were used to explain the endeavor of Fr Carlo Santoro in Lecce and that of Pastor Tommaso Carpino of the International Church. In helping some Pentecostals in need, they saw walls of mistrust crumbling down, and instead a true friendship in the spirit of collaboration came about.
One could feel the atmosphere of brotherhood and a culture of “togetherness”, and this was quite visible among the four presenters who belonged to 4 diverse Movements and Churches, as well as during the keynote speeches delivered by the Apostle Lirio Porrello of the “Word of Grace”, the representative of the Steering Committee, Ilona Toth (Hungarian, who came from Rome) and by Mgr Alerio Montalbano, the Bishop’s Vicar.
When it came to the final prayer, Apostle Lirio, who composed the prayer, passed the microphone to Pastor Nino Genova of the Sharing in Jesus Church of Agrigento (New Pentecostal Movement) and asked him to read it out. This tangible sign of communion and mutual love impressed one and all.
Following are just the titles of the activities presented: aid to prisoners and their families provided by the Pentecostals in collaboration with Fr Loris, the Catholic chaplain; the medical care given jointly by Christian doctors belonging to diverse associations; a lobby for a just family taxation (carried out by PdG, Eben Ezer, Forum Associations of Families, and the Focolare Movement); and “Mustard Seed” an open House run by the Waldensian, Lutheran and Baptist Churches.
Other initiatives: the local Caritas that helps homeless families; the Catholic Action which embarked on a project to make young people aware of the danger of gambling; the Adventum Foundation of the Adventist Church which helps families that risk being victims of usury; the “Word of Grace” helps the homeless; the Mission of Biagio Conte which looks after more than a thousand persons, and some others. These facts have shown that, through their charitable endeavors, the Christians are a lively reality in the midst of society.
There were also persons who shared their experiences of honesty, love of enemy, and the acceptance of an illness thanks to a closeness to God.
The young people presented a mime about “Jesus breaking the chains” – a meaningful dance performed by young people from Eben Ezer Church (New Pentecostal Movement) and others belonging to the Focolare Movement. Other young people belonging to various Pentecostal Churches and members of the “I am Rev” (I’m a revolution) Association explained how they help other young people to conquer their fears and fragilities. Their contributions manifested a Christianity that was young, fresh, full of initiatives and an authentic love for Jesus.
A participant summed up the evening thus: “What unites us is the living of the Gospel”.
The organizing committee of TfE in Palermo (Video and photos with the permission of Biagio Pittaresi)
In Trent, the Feast of Europe was organized by the six Movements which have been cooperating with Together for Europe for many years. These are the Alliance Dives in Misericordia, the Neo-catechumenal Way, Cursillo, Focolare Movement, New Horizons and Via Pacis. The event immediate got the support of the Episcopal delegate for Ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, Fr Cristiano Bettega.
The date chosen was May 3, 2019 and it was made up of two distinct parts: a cultural event at the Vigilianum followed by an ecumenical prayer Vigil.
The main hall of the Vigilianum, which seats about a hundred, was packed. Taking part, among others, were Fr Joan Catalin with members of his Romanian Orthodox Church, the Lutheran coordinator Mrs Berbel with a member of her community and the mayor of Trent, Alessandro Andreatta. Fr Bettega acted as chairperson and introduced the keynote speakers. Milena Mariani is Professor of Systematic Theology and History of Theology of the XX Century at the ‘Romano Guardini’ in Trent and Professor of Mariology in Bolzano. She delivered an important, farsighted talk about “Europe and the Christian Confessions toward the future”. Lucia Fronza Crepaz teaches at the Social Preparation School of Trent, and her talk had a socio-political theme: “Europe: an encounter of peoples, building up peace!”. During the interval between one speech and the other, two young men of the Neo-catechumenal Way played Beethoven’s Hymn to Joy.
The buffet which was offered in the adjacent hall was highly appreciated and it was an opportunity to share and make new acquaintances.
The Feast continued with an ecumenical Prayer Vigil which was held at the Immaculate Shrine, which is run by the Alliance Dives in Misericordia. The Vigil consisted of prayers, hymns (two of which were provided by the Orthodox community) and reflections – all done in an atmosphere of deep recollection. Among other texts, the messages of Pope Francis, of Patriarch Bartholomew I and of the Lutheran Bishop Bedford Strohm, which were delivered to the Munich 2016 meeting, were read out. The contributions of Fr Joan and the Lutheran coordinator Berbel were quite meaningful. The former underlined the correlation between the “cultural” input which preceded the Vigil, whereas the latter highlighted the common aims of the Christian Confessions which could, and ought to be enhanced, like reconciliation and peace, the care of the environment, solidarity with the poor and the downtrodden. Fr Bettega augured that such events may be repeated, and that other local entities be asked to participate. As a sign of practical sharing, the money collected was destined to help the refugees presently in Trent.
Foto: © Barbara Passalacqua / Nino Carella
The “Europe Day” gave us the opportunity to live out a new experience of communion with the local Church and to be part of the “Biblical Festival” held in Padua. During the last months we held several meetings and these allowed us to know better some extraordinary local realities: the Council of the Christian Churches, the Migrantes Ministry, the University Center, the Council of the lay Organizations, the Community of the Franciscan Conventual Friars of St Anthony’s Basilica, and some others. Thus, after a intense and fruitful work, the final version of the Vigil was finalized. What we considered to be the most important thing was our continuous striving for communion: indeed, each one experienced an ever truer relationship.
The Churches contributed excerpts from the Carta Oecumenica, which were alternated by Biblical texts read in various languages; all these offered a showcase of the richness of the spiritual and cultural patrimony embellishing the ecumenical endeavor.
On Thursday May 9 – the 69th anniversary of the Declaration on Europe – some 300 persons gathered in the Church of St Sophie.
Joanna, a young woman from Poland, kicked off the event with a short talk entitled “Europe on the move” during which she shared her experience of welcome and encounter in Italy. Then it was Stefan’s turn to talk about “Europe being tested: today’s challenges and those forever”; this young man came from Syria thanks to safe passageways. The last part focused upon “Christians and Europe: salt and light”; following by a chant sung by the Ukraine community, Ansamma, a pediatrician from India, addressed the gathering as the diocesan representative of the Ministry to Migrants.
The evening was enlivened with Taizé-style chants in various languages delicately performed by the choir Shalom.
Since one of the aims of Together for Europe is the development of Africa, and, also, since Padua is twinned with the city of Beira, a collection was held to send aid to the people of Mozambique who have recently suffered a devastating flooding. The sum collected, which was a further confirmation that the message of brotherhood has been well received, will finance two projects. The whole event ended with a get-together: that also provided the opportunity to be together in friendship and to build new and important relationships in the city.
The network Together for Europe in Padua (Community of St Egidio, Community of the Franciscan Conventual Friars of St Anthony’s Basilica, Pope John XIII Community, University Center of Padua, The Shalom Choir of Abano Terme, Focolare Movement)
Foto: © Giorgia Chiaro
It all started from a simple idea: to plan together with as many entities as possible. These included several Catholic associations: Agesci, Catholic Action, Community of St Egidio, CVX, The St Benoît Institutes, the Focolare Movement, Rinascita Cristiana, and the European Scouts Movement. Also represented were the Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and Romanian Orthodox Churches. Indeed all the Churches forming part of the Council of Christian Churches in Milan adhered to the initiative which also found the support of all the diocesan organisms. This collaboration gave rise to such an impressive manifestation that the municipality of Milan and the European Commission offered their collaborate and the European Parliament extended its sponsorship. The idea that matured was to have an event in a main square to be able to speak to the people. This event was to be preceded by awareness meetings in schools and parishes.
Thus, on May 9, a march started from the church of St Eustorgio and ended at the church of St Laurence. Following days of rain, that day the sun shone and warmed the city, and many considered this to be a good omen. Those who addressed the participants included Fr Traian Valdman, of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Dorothee Mack, Pastor of the Evangelical Methodist Church, and the Archbishop, Mgr Delpini.
Two moving experiences were shared with the crowd: that of a young man of the Community of St Egidio who expressed his vision of Europe, and that of Alessandra and Antonio Beltrami, who spoke about their experience of welcoming in the network of families linked to the Action for a United World ad that of New Families of the Focolare Movement.
Many expressed their appreciation of how the event was conducted and for the contents it offered. The Archbishop was one of those who seemed quite happy: “You were really great!”.
Two professional actors, Irene Quartana and Stefano Orlandi, were asked to read some significant texts. Afterwards Stafano wrote: “Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to be part of such a meaningful and important event at a time in which closure and individualism are rampant”.
To us, it seems that the greatest result was the strengthened relationships between all the members of the Commission. Here are some comments: “I thank the Lord for having found new brothers and sisters” (Pastor D. Mack); “The most important thing was working with such fantastic persons” (Anna Boccardi, Agesci); “You wanted to organize an ecumenical event, and you succeeded in full” Sara Comparetti, Baptist Church). The general feeling was to go ahead all together.
The organizing commission
Foto: ©Alberto Fornasari
In Prague, in the heart of Europe, on the occasion of the Europe Day, the Movements and Communities of different Churches organize prayers for Europe, followed by a Round Table with political representatives. The theme: “What vision for the Europe of the future?”
V Praze, v srdci Evropy, u příležitosti Dne pro Evropu, pořádají křesťanská hnutí a společenství z různých církví modlitby za Evropu, na které bude navazovat panelová diskuze se zástupci politického života.
Stáhněte si plakát – Download the poster (in Czech)
On May 11, 2019, after having met on a regular basis with Mgr. Le Gall, their bishop, will be holding an open meeting to deepen the objectives of Together for Europe.
After having made a survey in the streets of Lyon, the local committee is organizing a cultural evening on the 3 themes that emerged from the survey: ‘Peace, Culture and Economy’. This will be held on May 11, and will be followed by a Prayer Vigil for Europe and for the imminent elections.
The promotion for these 2 events will be done jointly and it will be made available in the churches of the various denominations present in the region. The leaflets will be handed out personally.
Tuesday, 14 May 8.30 pm prayer for Europe
Download the flyer / poster of the various events (french language):
The group of Movements and Communities of Rome has warmly welcomed the invitation to join the “Prayer Journey” for Europe which goes on for six weeks, from March 25 till May 9, 2019. The communities of 5 important Basilicas linked to the Patron Saints of Europe have committed themselves to pray daily for Europe; each day, in turn, a Movement of Together for Europe enlivens these prayers.
Moreover, so as to deepen some of our 7 Yeses, there will be the following initiatives:
Download the Flyer for the Vigil of May 8, 2019 (in italian)
Many of us will also be going to Klagenfurt, Carinthia in Austria on 3rd May to celebrate Europe Day with some of our Italian neighbours.
On 4th May we will be in Brezje visiting Slovenia’s most famous Marian shrine where Archbishop Stanislav Zore will celebrate Mass and where we will praying together for a united Europe. Immediately afterwards there will be a moment of encounter between everyone from the different Movements and Communities; it will be a wonderful opportunity to deepen the unity and friendship that has bound us together for so long.
We will use every means of communication to spread the word about this event and take the idea of “Europe Day” all over Slovenia. We will also participate in the prayer network taking place in Europe from 25 March to 9 May, and this year we would also like to invite different personalities and members of the press that we have got to know to the different events.
We have also decided to take concrete action towards reconciliation in Slovenia.
Marjana and Pavel Snoj on behalf of the Together for Europe Team in Slovenia
Through the contact with the “Europahaus” (House of Europe) at Klagenfurt we found a suitable place and this allowed us to outline our project.
The central theme will be “Europe without Christ?” By presenting our 7 Yeses, we aim at inspiring a reflection upon the contribution we could provide toward a sustainable Europe.
We live in Carinthia which is a crossroads of Europe and where three nations feel at home. For centuries there were here Romans, Slavs and German tribes. For this reason we have invited guests from Lublin, Trieste and Graz so as to meet together and share our experiences.
On May 3, 2019, we shall have the opportunity to celebrate a journey of relationships and harmony, which resulted in 70 years of peace. Together we will be able to appreciate how the diversity of nations in Europe enriches us.
While celebrating our “Europe Day”, we want to show our gratitude for all this and to express our hope for a peaceful future.
Manfred and Fini Wieser, team of Together for Europe, Carinthia
Download the invitation here (available only in German)
It seems that Together for Europe is more relevant than ever today, at a time when our continent is facing many challenges. We are convinced that God did not raise this network without a reason.
Europe is on everyone’s lips. But how will it be possible to make our contribution as Christians in the construction of today’s Europe? Our possibilities are limited. And yet it’s the small, but creative and motivated, minorities that can make a difference and contribute to change. For this reason it will be important that we leave our charisms to unfold: Our vocation of unity, our culture of “Togetherness” is today more necessary than ever.
9 May – Europe Day
At the meeting of the ‘Friends of Together for Europe’ in Vienna in 2017, the intent of Jeff Fountain (Netherlands) and of the Italian group, to make May 9th, Day of Europe, a lively event has given rise to much interest. This year, events have already taken place in some regions.
For 2019 it seems important to start including this date in our annual program, to gather locally as Movements and Communities and explore the possibilities of this day. It could also be useful to include other initiatives that are committed to a “Togetherness” in Europe. Two weeks later elections for the European Parliament will take place; there will certainly be favorable pressures and creative ideas. Therefore, in 2019 there is an added value: May 9th should be a day of joy, of celebration, of commitment and of prayer!
Europe needs our prayer.
In addition to the impulses and initiatives already launched , we see our contribution to Europe in prayer as well. After our initiatives in the wake of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, on March 24, 2017, we saw its transforming force. We trust that much will move in heaven and on earth when we pray together in unity for our Continent.
Gerhard Proß, Diego Goller, P. Heinrich Walter
See also: Involve your city>
Foto: ©Ursel Haaf – www.urselhaaf.de
There is indeed a future for Europe. Communities and Churches do have a role to play individually as well as together and as part of civic life which has been growing stronger. In time it will generate its own new political leaders and until then it will continue reinforcing its civic commitment. The greatest damage to society comes from the apathy of millions who do not attempt to make a positive contribution. So these communities have a precise role. They develop and exercise certain aspects that are important for the functioning of society (for example order, freedom, obedience, responsibility, equality, hierarchy, respect, correction, individual and collective ownership, truth and so on).
The choice of date to celebrate is at once understandable, good and also necessary. The question is how to celebrate. We would like to see a big scientific interdisciplinary conference taking place as well as other forms of celebration that would appeal to society at large. Rather than an official celebration, we were thinking that perhaps an event like that of the European Capital of Culture might be interesting. We know from experience that official celebrations tend to be political and that the exploitation of such occasions for political purposes has the effect of distancing people from the event.
I would avoid uniformity, and aim at pursuing, reinforcing and accelerating integration, based on a mutual recognition of identities and on solidarity. The United States is an example of such an approach, where only one language is spoken, and a looser integration bonds were replaced by centralization. We would be for increasing the extent of international projects such as Erasmus for researchers and third level staff and gradually opening up to involvement of secondary education teachers; making a six-month period of studies abroad obligatory for university students independent of their field of studies, as well as running continuous inter-institutional courses between bordering countries.
I think it is facing two main challenges: Firstly, unity: if Europe does not succeed in becoming more unanimous in personifying unity, it will lose its position on the international scene; and secondly, corruption: any type of abuse, even the slightest one, be it political, moral, or sexual, damages greatly the international community independently of whether it is carried out by an authority or an individual. This can only be prevented through a continuous examination of conscience or reflection performed together.
Young people love to be practical. Abstract things do not appeal to them. The key is to increase numbers and invest money in international study programmes, so that young Europeans can have a chance to get to know Europe and its young people. Europe should also strive to define its main objectives in more concrete terms so that the young people can believe in them and become enthusiastic about them.
Populism is a consequence of the latest economic crises as well as of military conflicts (for example foreign interference’s). It is also caused by nationalism. The European Union does not deal with nationalism efficiently which puts populists at an advantage. Furthermore, European citizens do not tend to have a direct relationship with European politicians. They often know only their own national political representatives who are the ones ‘listened to by the crowds’ and therefore directly responsible for how information from Brussels is transmitted in individual member states. In any case we need to learn to advance together. In what way? In the context of what was discussed so far, the first step might be to act on a personal level and gradually assume a collective responsibility, acknowledging the effectiveness and the role of acting together.
Zsófia Bárány PhD and Szabolcs Somorjai PhD, Hungary, researches in the field of modern sociology and economy, and politics and history of the Church
Europe is a continent that people talk about a lot and one that perhaps considers itself to be the centre of the world. Is this a bit selfish? There are other problems in the world than the European ones.
By highlighting those things that we as Europeans have in common.
I think this depends on each person. I know that I could take a more active interest myself. I believe that the majority of young people does take an interest – those who are studying, and those who are starting to work for example, because they need to secure a future for their children. Europe is our home now and into the future. At times it appears as though there is no point in taking an interest in politics, because many people who are in positions of power do not set a good example.
I do not like populism. All the slogans in the run up to the elections and then… In what can we put our trust? Who can we believe? I often do not agree with those who are in positions of power, but I am not sure how to make a difference so that justice can win. However, we need to recognise that there are also many positive things happening. Our people want change. I hope that the future will bring positive changes. However we need to start from ourselves, as always. Instead of criticizing others we must give the best of ourselves to our neighbours, family and friends.
Marie Kilbergrová, Czech Republic
I don’t think this is true. Many of them are interested but they are not visible. Only the ones who don’t want Europe to be united are visible. They want to divide us, and they want each country just to look after its own interests. They are the ones who are more active than those who see Europe as united. This has to be the big change for all of us, that we become pro-Europe, for a united Europe.
Europe has to show a good example of democracy, unity and mutual cooperation. It needs to show that democracy provides a better way of living.
It’s an important date for me. It’s a day when everyone should celebrate fact that we live in peace, at least in most of Europe. This doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will be out celebrating in the squares. Everyone will celebrate in their own way but we should all experience the joy of being a citizen of Europe.
Firstly, I would tell everyone that, as members of the European Union, we are all equal before the law and have the same rights. Yet in recent years people from certain countries belonging to the European Union have only been able to see the differences – the West as developed and the East as lagging behind. On my agenda I would write: tell the citizens of the EU that we are all equally important and that we all matter.
Europe has a great future! Europe is really important for the world and should be an example. It should show that we are united (this is the more difficult part), and it should show that it is capable of welcoming everyone. It’s up to the Churches and Movements to show everyone we are not “hypocrites”, people who say one thing and do another. We have to be open to others and welcome them. This applies not only to immigrants from countries outside the EU, but also to those within the EU. We shouldn’t distinguish between people from Eastern and Western EU.
This is one of the most difficult questions at the moment. In the last few years we have seen political parties being elected in almost every European Union country (and further afield) who have succeeded in spreading populist propoganda. This is what happened in Slovakia and it wasn’t just a political party. At the end of February 2018 a journalist and his fiancee were assassinated. He was only 27 years old and had been writing an article exposing a link between the government (various populist parties) and the mafia. As a result, many Slovakians decided to march together, to protest and show that they no longer want these populists. They marched together, peacefully, without violence. They were afraid but without hatred. This is an example of “how” to walk together, being united not only as members of the European Union but as European citizens.
Tomas Angelovic, Slovakia, 27 years old; studies political science; also completed a course of study at Sophia University in Loppiano (Italy).
I see this day as an opportunity for European countries to dare to start transnational actions. We don’t need an elaborate programme, but even for example, a game with the idea of getting to know each other and discovering what we have in common, beyond our differences. This is why we need an informal “place of dialogue”. Feeling the connection between us would already reach this goal.
No frontiers between countries. You feel at ease quickly in places to which you can travel with ease. The hospitality of one’s own country in welcoming others is an important premise for mutual understanding and appreciation. I would try to highlight the benefits and the great enrichment of an “open” Europe. This would require concrete examples and the small results already achieved could be made known.
Openness and transparency! If the Church communicates openly what she plans to do with money, programmes etc., she will help citizens to trust more. If the Church was recognized as having the role of uniting people, it would be understood that she also contributes to removing borders from people’s hearts. Implement initiatives for young people, create spaces where local people can meet with migrants without propaganda programmes for refugees, but to highlight the multiplicity of countries and the variety of people. Europe has a future if people begin to understand that everyone can be a resource for the other because of our diversity, just use our various skills and abilities in the right way.
Much has already been achieved in Europe. It is a gift to be able to travel to different countries within Europe and enjoy collaborations that have enabled the exchange of students and the social year of volunteering. These experiences should be made known, so that citizens of different countries can realize that this treasure exists. Europe should show its positive aspects more. We generally have more stable financial security and good social assistance. Should we not be grateful for what we already have?
My experience as a young person is that you are often a bit overwhelmed by everything that happens around you all over the world. Only a few, those who have been involved in some way, are interested in politics. There are many problems in the world that young people cannot solve (at least so they think) and therefore they get involved more readily in things that promise immediate and visible results. Politics is often too complicated and sometimes uses language that is not accessible to most people. For young people there should be more incentives to take an interest in politics, with the prospect of being able to change something.
Given that today we are dominated by capitalism (I speak now of Germany), it is almost impossible that there are no populist tendencies. We tend only to want to obtain more and more profit, without taking into account the weakest. People who look only for profit cannot see any profit in supporting the weaker, because this takes time, work and commitment. The middle class is disappearing and the gap between rich and poor is widening. A cohabitation would be possible, but it must be understood that one can obtain profit even with different abilities. Maybe the profit will be lower, but you gain in human relationships, health, values etc. First of all we must understand that, by thinking only of ourselves, we can no longer be happy; that people who have less, but who can rely on each other, have found a very precious treasure.
Katharina is 24 years old and a teacher. She has work experience with migrants and currently lives in Nuremberg (Germany)
I believe the most urgent reform to be advanced on a European level is neither economic nor political in nature, but cultural. What is needed is to gather detailed information on the functioning of European institutions, as well as to source a substantial level of funding for programmes that explore our choice of coming together as one European entity as well as the historical significance of the European integration experiment. Investment in the field of culture (music, art, cinema) and targeting a young audience, is also fundamental. We need to create an awareness and feeling of belonging as European citizens.
How do you see the Churches and Christian Movements and Communities making their contribution to the future of Europe?
Christian Communities have the potential to contribute to the foundations on which the European project might rest in the future. The Christian message of community, social solidarity, civic responsibility which go hand in hand with spiritual growth as intended in the Christian religion is the foundation of our coming together united in our diversity. Europe was born from a vision of great statesmen who shared this spirit of brotherhood. It is this dimension which needs to be rediscovered.
by Federico Castiglioni (Rome, 17/11/88). Holds a Degree in Political Science and is currently pursuing a PhD in European and International studies at the University of Rome III. Federico has published a number of academic and lay articles on the theme of European topicality and the role of the European Union in a globalised world. He is also responsible for External Relations in the Italian section of JEF (Young European Federalists).