A post on the facebook page of the Library of the Spirit in Moscow

The Meeting is wherever I am

The Rimini Meeting is also live in 85 Italian cities and 25 countries around the world, because of the personal initiative of many. As happened in Moscow and Porto San Paolo, Sardinia. With even a loudspeaker on a car in the streets...
Luca Fiore

"Diego even went around town for an hour with a loudspeaker on his car to promote the evening dedicated to the exhibit on the 10th chapter of Religious Sense. As was done in the 1970s." Cesare has always gone on holiday to Porto San Paolo, in Sardinia, a few kilometres from Olbia. But he had never seen anything like it. For Diego, it was the first time going there but, knowing that Cesare and his friends know the town well, he proposed to organize the special edition of the Meeting in this special place. Thus, the regulars of Porto San Paolo rolled up their sleeves and set up three evenings in the parish churchyard. Fr. Cristian gave the announcement at Mass. They received permits from the Town Hall. Spacing and masks. Everything was in order.

Eighty people came the first night. On the program there was the projection of the video "Living the Reality", inspired by Fr. Giussani’s most famous book and Julián Carrón’s Reawakening Our Humanity. But Fr. Cristian told us that a friend of his, the famous mountaineer Giuliano Stenghel, had died a few days earlier during a climbing trip on the island of Tavolara. Thus, along with the video, the exhibition "We are on top! The summit of K2 and the faces of a people." The parish priest reads a moving letter from Stenghel about the feeling of going to the mountains which, surprisingly, makes us understand the deep connection between the two exhibitions.

"We felt a bit like those who, 41 years ago, came up with the idea of the Meeting", explained Cesare: "We had something beautiful in our hands and we wanted to make it known to everyone. And, revealing to the world what you have, you rediscover its value. At least, that is what happened to me."

The Rimini Meeting in Porto San Paolo, in Sardinia

The Meeting in Porto San Paolo is only one of 85 in Italy and 25 in the world (from Australia to Brazil, from Argentina to Poland, from Great Britain to Japan). The pandemic not only did not stop the Rimini event, but it projected it onto five continents. Not everyone - in fact almost nobody - has the "powerful means" of the Meeting that we have become familiar with. People have met in oratories, small squares, meeting places, with a few chairs, a screen and a projector. Everything is more homely. And yet, the desire to know and make known what is transmitted by the Rimini Palacongressi is great. What counts, more than the form, is the content. Nicoletta and Federica, from the Meeting’s public relations office, have realised this: "An unexpected initiative completely free of charge. And full of responsibility: they call us to discuss everything. We did not ask them to do it, they want it, because they feel they are "the Meeting" wherever they are."

The story of the "Meeting in Moscow" is exemplary. Jean-François Thiry, director of the Library of the Spirit, one of the liveliest cultural centers in the Russian capital, had made contact with a couple of important guests, and thus thought that for this year he had given his contribution to the event.

Then he happened to find out that that the only "Meeting Ambassador" that had proposed themselves from Russia was a girl he has never heard of. He thought about it and said to himself that after all the history of CL in Russia is linked to Rimini. Yes, there are the great names of the men of culture, but for many the Meeting was a crucial moment for their encounter with the movement. So he attempted to re-launch the proposal: do we want to bring the Meeting to Russia? Fifteen answered and got down to work. Bearing in mind that, over there, the lockdown is not yet completely over. They dedicated a section of the Library’s website to the event with translated videos. They identified which talks to promote on social media.

Meanwhile, Jean-François discovered who the mysterious "Meeting Ambassador" was. Her name is Daria. She studied Media Strategy in Padua. And her friends told her she was supposed to work at the Meeting. Even though she had never been to the Meeting and did not really know what it was. "I graduated in March 2019," says the girl who lives in Jaroslavl', 300 kilometers away from the capital: "And before the lockdown I went back to Italy for a few days and was invited to the Meeting as a volunteer. And I accepted. Then it was no longer a matter of going to Rimini, but of doing something here in Russia. And I decided to do it anyway." Why? "I have always volunteered at cultural events. I find it helps you to get to know yourself. And then, when I saw that the story of the Meeting was tied to the history of my country, I thought it was even more interesting." She met Jean-François and got involved with the organization of the "social" diffusion of the contents. Then, four days ago, her new friend called her and said: "I have decided to do something crazy, can you help me?"

This was the idea: a live Facebook and Zoom marathon of six hours, to present what the Meeting is – past contents and and this year's edition. Time: Sunday, August 23rd. There will be "guests in the studio": from Andrey Yurevich, Orthodox priest-architect, who has spoken several times in Rimini, to a family from Novosibirsk which spends the week in Rimini every year. From those who have met CL participating in the preparation of an exhibition to those who recount their experience of the Pre-Meeting. There will also be some snapshots of past Meetings and of this year's show about Dostoevsky. And Daria? What did she have to do? "Jean-François asked me to curate a series of short moments, which we called TG Meeting, in which to summarize the contents of each day of the 2020 edition. So these days I am trying to watch as many meetings as I can." And what struck you most about what you saw? "So far the dialogues with Mikel Azurmendi and González Sainz. I thought it was a very interesting format. Of course, meeting in person has a greater taste for the unexpected. But it is nice to get to know someone by seeing the context in which they live, their home, their city...."

Read also – Meeting 2020 exhibitions: Vaccinated against doubt

Jean-François said this to her: “You know that you are responsible for all of this?” Daria replied: "Yes, it is something that filled me with joy. I cannot say why it happened. But even this is an answer to the question of why I volunteer: things happen that enlighten life. Like the event on Sunday. So you say, «This is crazy, but let us do it! »