Courtesy of Joshua Stancil

The Fraternity: My "Special Work"

Michele recounts her experience participating in an overnight with her community to better understand the meaning of belonging to the Fraternity.

On a Saturday night over Martin Luther King weekend, seventeen of us from the Greenville community spent an overnight together in Tryon, North Carolina, to talk about our desire for fraternity. It was born from the newer members of our School of Community who expressed an interest in the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation during Advent. I spoke to Fr. José about where to begin addressing this desire and he replied, “Go away with your friends and pray and talk about it.” I came back from Christmas break eager to plan something and was amazed when I entered Keith’s office and he said, “You know, I’ve been thinking about Fraternity during break.” Grateful for this sign, we chose a date and miraculously, most of our small Greenville community was available.

We were a mixed crowd. There were folks in the Fraternity, those who have been in the movement for years but hadn’t made the formal step to join the Fraternity, as well as those who are not interested in that step and those inquiring about it. After mass and a meal, we listened to Beethoven’s violin concerto in D Major, Op. 61, taking our lead from Fr. Giussani’s commentary on the relationship between the individual and community. Then, we read an article entitled “The Idea of Fraternity” which provoked Tami to ask, “What is the difference between being in the Fraternity and not?” This led to people sharing why they joined the Fraternity and others to why they were moved to attend School of Community. Joshua said he realized the Movement had changed his life to such a degree that not joining the Fraternity would be, in some sense, dishonest. The next morning, I was surprised by the beauty of our morning prayer which, quite honestly, is usually lacking in attention, but instead reflected the beauty of what we were living. After some silence, we continued our dialogue. Sandi, married with a young child, explained that it is very difficult for her and her husband to come to School of Community but being invited to events such as the overnight is a sign of Christ’s preference for her. Anne explained that without School of Community she doesn’t grow in the certainty she needs in order to face her young adult children. Sharon told us that after her daughter moved from Greenville to Texas she wanted to start coming to School of Community because she missed the conversations they had, which were often centered around what her daughter was discovering at School of Community. Chris, her husband, said he was surprised to find himself part of a movement since he had left a different movement seventeen years prior; As he reads Fr. Giussani’s biography, the questions he’s been asking for the past twenty years are being answered.

We ended with some provocative questions, “What is the role of our personal responsibility? What is the next step?” I verified that belonging to Communion and Liberation is my “work.” For years, I have been waiting for God to show me a special work for me to do. However, I realize the “special work” has been given. It’s taking seriously what it means to belong to the Fraternity.

Michele, South Carolina, USA