Chiara Amirante and the Role of Women in the New Evangelization
Founder of 'New Horizons' Community Speaks on the Synod of Bishops
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By Salvatore Cernuzio
ROME, OCTOBER 26, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Of the many Auditors present in this year's Synod of Bishops, 17 of them are women. Among these women is Chiara Amirante, founder of the 'New Horizons' Community, a movement within the Catholic Church that puts particular emphasis on the New Evangelization.
Chiara spoke with ZENIT to discuss her experience attending her first Synod, as well as the role of women in the New Evangelization and the publication of her first autobiography.
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ZENIT: Chiara, now that Synod of Bishops is drawing to a close, what are your thoughts considering also that it is the first time you have participated?
Chiara Amirante: They were days of great grace for me. We were hearing profoundly the Holy Father’s invitation to live a renewed commitment to the New Evangelization for the transmission of the faith, in a climate of intense communion among all. It was very enriching to be able to hear the reports of the Synodal Fathers and of the auditors who shared something of their experience and of their proposals regarding the challenges that affect contemporary man strongly. I think that these days contributed to influence each one of our hearts (and I hope the heart of every Christian) more profoundly by what the Word of God expressed forcefully: “For if I preach the Gospel that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16).
ZENIT: In your opinion, what are the points which deserve the greatest attention?
Chiara Amirante: The experience lived in these years of intense commitment with the New Horizons Community in receiving young people who live in the street, but especially the many initiatives of prevention and evangelization, has led us to meet an average of two million people every year and to speak heart to heart with so many youth, also in schools of well to do neighborhoods, which made us realize that 80% of young people live today the situations of grave hardship that characterize their world: alcohol and drug abuse, sexual dependence (with the related abuses suffered which often cause indelible wounds) and dependencies of various kinds, anorexia and bulimia, […]depressions; a profound sense of emptiness and loneliness.
Therefore, I think that the fruits of relativism, secularism, consumerism, hedonism that continue to feed us are truly alarming and devastating. The ever more disquieting data attests to it and challenges us personally. Contemporary man seems to delude himself that he can substitute the" I" for God, but perhaps he has forgotten that every society that has tried to exile God has often degenerated into a true and proper hell. There is an urgent need of persons who allow themselves to be reached in depth by the Good News and who witness forcefully that the Lord of creation came to dwell among us to reveal his immense love for us and to give an answer to the most profound questions of our heart. He is the way for the fullness of joy, peace, inner liberty and life!
ZENIT: You are one of the few women present at the Synod. Was the subject of woman’s role addressed during the sessions?
Chiara Amirante: Yes, what was stressed many times was the importance of woman and her specific charism in the New Evangelization. I’m convinced that women, precisely because of her particular capacity of receptivity, of attention to those who suffer, of listening, because of her sensibility and maternity, her peculiar capacity to love, will be able to make a real, fundamental contribution. Man tends to be more of the head, woman more of the heart and this is urgent today to be able to renew the life of a society that is dying for lack of love. In fact, it is necessary to radically live the commandment that Jesus gave us, calling it new and His: “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another (John 13:34). We must learn to look more at Mary, Star of the New Evangelization.
ZENIT: New Horizons, New Evangelization: what else will be new this year, in the light also of what emerged from the Synod Assembly?
Chiara Amirante: Since the birth of the Community, the commitment to the New Evangelization has been the priority. In just six years more than 250,000 people have taken up the commitment as Knights of Light to try to live the Gospel radically to give witness to the joy of the Risen Christ and to take the revolution of love to the world. Multiplied, moreover, have been the initiatives of evangelization thanks also to the commitment of the youth we have received. There are 174 centers of hospitality, of formation for evangelization, centers of listening and of spirituality; 152 service teams working in communication and mass media, animation and entertainment, cultural and editorial formation, international cooperation in social services, support and orientation. Moreover, there are five Heavenly Citadels underway which in addition to being "Citadels" of hospitality, they are "Citadels" of formation for social volunteer work and evangelization. Moreover, the street missions have multiplied. Of course we will give our all to intensify our commitment in this area.
ZENIT: On Tuesday, October 23, your autobiography entitled Love Alone Remains went on sale in bookstores. What was the need to put your story on paper?
Chiara Amirante: The book was born of a request to tell the truth. In the beginning I had many reservations about writing so many personal and unpublished particulars of my life. Then the desire prevailed to truly share the Love of God. If we try to open our hearts a bit to Him, incredible horizons of light, of fullness, of life, of joy are opened to us. The most profound reason that pushed me to write this book is that when you make a wonderful discovery, when you experience a joy that isn’t of this world and which endures the most terrible tests of life, you want to witness it also to those who are prostrated in sadness, in discouragement, in despair. Contemplating the miracles wrought by Him who is Love, you feel the need to make Him known, to have hope blossom in those who have lost it. Moreover, I feel the responsibility to give the unheard cry of the people of the night which has pierced my heart, the many tears gathered that I keep as precious treasures that so many have given me.
ZENIT: So, what can one rediscover in this book?
Chiara Amirante: I have tried to recount something in the book of the incredible adventure lived in these years immersed in the hell of the street which led me to repeatedly see the miracle of the resurrection in the life of thousands of young people who before lived off of drugs, violence, prisoners of a thousand dependencies and often in the infernal prison of the death of the soul. Today these same young people go on the same streets, where before they lived in despair, giving great enthusiastic witness of the fullness of joy that they have experienced thanks to the discovery of the encounter with the Risen Christ.
ZENIT: A curiosity is the Preface written by the famous singer Andrea Bocelli.
Chiara Amirante: I have a profound friendship, or better a communion with Andrea, so much so that he also wished to be committed as a Knight of Light. In regard to the Preface, I wish to refer to what is written in the back cover of the book: “Chiara tells her story, without reservations, without hesitations, so that each one of us can find the strength to make, once and for all, a courageous choice in favor of light and truth. From that truth that is life, from that life that is already on this earth, she can give us a glimpse of Paradise.”
ZENIT: In rewriting and hence reliving your life, what can you say today?
Chiara Amirante: I can repeat forcefully that everything passes and only Love remains! Love is stronger, love conquers, love works miracles because God is Love!
ZENIT: To conclude, what is your wish for the end of the Synod and the beginning of the Year of Faith?
Chiara Amirante: My hope is that we will really allow ourselves to be profoundly affected by the wonderful news that Christ came to lead us; to find in Him the answer to all the most profound needs of our heart and to become with our life witnesses of that fullness of joy that only He can give us.
[Translation by ZENIT]