How a woman found her faith again through a coworker
I was born in Colombia. I have two children and four grandchildren. I am a retired bilingual teacher, and I taught religion in a local parish before the pandemic.
I met the Focolare 45 years ago through my coworker in Colombia, where we both worked at the university. My life was quite full, with work and going to school in the evenings.
At that time, my studies and my boyfriend were the most important things in my life. I had little interest in anything religious. In fact, I even stopped going to Mass.
One day I met Amparo at the bus stop and asked her about a trip she had taken to Italy. I love to travel, and I was expecting interesting stories about Europe. Instead, she surprised me by talking about people who lived like the early Christians, who wanted to live the Gospel day by day.
Listening to the beautiful experiences Amparo told me, I experienced something unique about her.
At a certain point I told her that I felt that God was looking for me, but I was afraid because I knew it was something serious, and I could not play games with God. It had always been difficult to be open to God, thinking I was not good enough, and I wanted to hide myself from him.
Amparo told me not to worry because when God asks something, he gives you the grace to do it. I knew she was right, and I experienced a great peace.
After attending some gatherings with the Focolare, I began to give God the first place in my life. For example, I not only went to Mass on Sunday, but every day.
When I went to my first Mariapolis (Focolare’s summer gathering) I thought I already knew the Bible and its meaning and wondered what they could tell me that I did not already know.
Then I heard the experience of a 12-year-old boy, and it changed my life. He told us how he had just arrived after a 12-hour bus trip from another city, and he was immediately asked to move heavy furniture. At first, he wondered why one of the local boys had not helped with this earlier, but then decided he would do an act of love for Jesus. He could not just expect others to build the Mariapolis, but that he too should build it.
At that moment I understood that the Gospel is not only to be read and meditated on, but to be put into practice!
At the end of the Mariapolis, we received lunch boxes. One of the girls did not receive one, so I gave her mine. I went to sit in the grass trying to forget my hunger. But to my surprise, my friend Amparo came with two boxes for my lunch, and I learned about the hundredfold! God is not outdone in generosity.
Since that day I started having many experiences that showed God’s personal love for me, and I started giving away things that I did not need. In this way, God encouraged me to love others with the same generous love that he has for me, and that I experienced through others.
Grace Cardoza, New York