Our reason for being
Why the magazine came to life 50 years ago
By Emilie Christy
The origins of Living City can be traced back to as early as 1955, when Focolare founder Chiara Lubich described the character of a future Focolare magazine: “Articles would aim to clarify various fields of economics, art, philosophy … all fields of knowledge and life in the light of the spirituality of unity.”
Since the beginning, it aimed at a broad audience: “It would be a periodical for everyone, where everyone can write: gifted or not, small or great, religious and lay, workers and professionals, men and women … what is of interest is the truth, stated out of love for the common good and for each individual.”
Experiences of life were essential, describing how living the Gospel in daily life could be transformative for individuals and communities alike.
Keeping us connected
However, during the early years, the publications of the Focolare served primarily as a means of sustaining and keeping the people that attended the movement’s summer gatherings, originally in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy, connected. As the Focolare spirituality spread to other places in the world, so did the magazine.
The profound encounter had penetrated the core of their lives to the point that the participants felt the need to continue the experience on their return home in their daily affairs. In 1959, a publishing house was born as well, and gradually foreign editions in other languages started too. In 1967 Living City opened its doors to reach several English-speaking countries in the world. Both the books published by New City Press and the magazine have served as instruments of formation and support for the growing international community.
Widening our focus
In order to reach out and share the fruits of living the spirituality of unity, in 1992 the press took a new direction. A revamped Mariapolis Newsletter served to connect and inform the Focolare community, sharing more “family news,” while the magazine focused more directly on current issues, world trends and events.
The growing relationships that the Focolare experienced with various religious groups and political leaders across the globe began to indicate that the sphere of influence was broadening. One of the first events that seemed a turning point was the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion given to Chiara Lubich in 1977, which led to the development of numerous interreligious relationships.
Then various awards bestowed on Lubich showed that the charism of unity had an impact in a variety of fields in the secular world: in 1996 the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education, in 1998 the Human Rights Award by the Council of Europe and, in the following years, numerous honorary doctorates in the fields of sociology, education, theology, economics.
Giving witness to a lifestyle
Chiara Lubich encouraged the various editions of the magazine — there are now 32 throughout the world — to be a genuine expression of the spirituality of unity, giving witness to a lifestyle that can be an “answer to the expectations of humanity’s thirst for truth and love … to be salt, light and yeast.”
Transitioning toward the challenges
Living City has not been immune to the ebb and flow in the marketplace of print publications, and to the changing reading habits in a digital media age. The magazine has undergone various transitions in order to remain relevant and attractive to the wider community, contemporizing the layout.
What remains timely are the experiences of people who are trying to live out the spirituality of unity, answering to the challenges that people in today’s society are facing. The feedback of our readers shows that this effort is much appreciated, with positive comments on topics like finding hope in the face of suffering, channeling anger for positive change, to discovering the modern forms of poverty like loneliness in our society and facing them with love.
Columns, topics and formats may change, but the core content and value remain the same: showing how reaching unity is possible among diverse people in many circumstances of everyday life.
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