I recall a story from the time that I spent in Emmendingen, a small city, 15 kilometers from Freiburg. I lived there for four years, from 2005 until 2009, before being sent to Cologne. I think this memory summarizes well the impact of the presence of our Fraternity in Germany. The event involves a certain woman who, for her privacy, we will call Francesca.
We were serving at the parish of Saint Boniface. At the end of a First Communion Mass, the mother of a boy who had just received First Communion approached me. It was Francesca. She confided that she had been surprised by the way we had accompanied her son during the months of preparation. Witnessing the friendship that had been born between us priests and her son, Francesca confessed, “Something in me has changed.” She was Protestant, born in Berlin and married to a Catholic Bavarian; now, she wanted to convert to Catholicism.
After a few months, we had to move to Cologne. When she learned the news, Francesca began to seriously consider abandoning her plan to convert, waiting, instead, for the arrival of those who would take our place. However, after the encouragement of her sister-in-law, we began the period of preparation for her First Communion and Confirmation. As a gift for her celebration of the sacraments, we could think of nothing better than to introduce her to the community of Communion and Liberation. I brought her to meet my friends from the community of CL in Fribourg which I used to visit every two weeks. On July 18, 2009, the day before leaving for Cologne, we celebrated the First Communion and Confirmation of Francesca. Today, 15 years after the Fraternity’s arrival in Emmendingen, she is still part of that parish and is grateful to have found a home in the Movement. It was worth it!
Francesca enrolled in Theology program and upon finishing her degree began to teach religion. Today, she works on a pastoral team in a near-by city, sharing with children and students what I was able to share with her. Whenever she is asked to sign various petitions against the Doctrine of the Church – which has become a trend here – she simply says: “Look: I was brought up Protestant and I have profoundly desired to become Catholic. Why would I now sign petitions to change the Catholic Church and make it more Protestant?”
(Pictured, a street in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany – photo flickr.com – allispossible)