History of CL in the USA

Communion and Liberation has its roots in Monsignor Luigi Giussani’s encounter with young people. In his work as a priest in post-war Italy, Giussani frequently met students who, despite their outward religious practice, saw no use for the faith in their lives. Giussani decided to dedicate his life to these young people,becoming a teacher at the Liceo Berchet high school in Milan in 1954.

Giussani very soon attracted a group of students and they started gathering around him on a regular basis and Gioventù Studentesca (GS) was born. Following Giussani’s teaching to verify the usefulness of the faith for themselves, the students discovered a new ability to live with creativity and joy in all circumstances. GS began to spread from person to person, and a Movement came into being.

From 1964, Giussani taught at the University of Milan, formulating his approach in courses that would engender his seminal texts, including The Religious Sense. In the face of the politically-oriented student movements of 1968, he renewed the charism from its depths, and it was at this time that it became Communion and Liberation” (CL).

As its members entered the world, new fruits emerged in their manner of living marriage, virginity, and the priesthood, and CL began to move beyond Italy. In the early ‘80s, Italian students and young professionals who were part of the Movement began to arrive in the U.S., and small communities began to sprout up from the East Coast to California.

Only a few years later, this life reached the halls of the United Nations, as Giussani’s The Religious Sense was presented in New York City. This was the first of the “book presentations,” and the start of a new way to engage American culture. After this seminal event, each major publication of a book by Giussani in the English-speaking world became the stimulus for similar moments of public conversation about the impact of Giussani’s person and thought.

In the decades that have followed, the Movement has spread widely throughout the entire country. Giussani’s charism is expressed in the Knights and GS (the middle school and high school groups), CLU (university and graduate students) and the many meetings, both organized and spontaneous, of families and young workers, including “community days,” cultural events, and the weekly School of Community.