Beginning Again in the US

This year there were 35 Beginning Days across the country. Friends from Virginia, Texas, Ohio and Arizona share their experiences.

This year for Beginning Day the Houston, TX community gathered at the University of St. Thomas with friends from Austin and Brenham, while friends from the Dallas community gathered together to connect with us from their home. The gesture took place two days following the funeral for our beloved friend and community member, Julie Kato. Thus, the question of what it means to begin again was felt acutely by many of us here. In the minutes of silence, listening to Beethoven’s powerful concerto, the words of Fr. Giussani came across loud and clear: …“the violin cannot last very long in this flight” …“it’s a good thing that the orchestra – the reality of the community – is there to take it back in…

Emad, our attentive visitor from Kansas, shared Fr. Giussani’s insistence on experience and the question of what it means to judge, namely, to grasp the meaning of something present and its correspondence. Two witnesses from Houston and Needville, Texas, shared their experience of living a life that is guided by faith. “Why I feel a certain way is a question unanswerable by myself. What sustains my faith is a reminder of a relationship,” said Emiliana. Sharing his first encounter with Msgr. Albacete, Jay recounted going back to The Religious Sense, reading it again from page one, line by line, thinking “these questions are mine; I am the subject, and there’s a method thanks to which, if it is true, I won’t be abandoned”.

It was there, right there, that it became clear that God’s hand was present, every step of the way, through specific faces, hands, gestures, and circumstances. We were given a place and each other to live those days of sadness, to pray and to be sustained and consoled by Christ in the flesh. He, in His mercy, had made His face visible. How could we not but yearn to see Him again?

Marcia and Natalie, Houston, Texas


The community in Phoenix joined via livestream the CL communities of Southern California for Beginning Day. It was a real gift for those of us who have known BJ for a while to hear his testimony about the way he is living his sickness, with the irreplaceable help of the movement and its education. Personally, it was a real gift for me to be able to celebrate Mass for the local community (we were 9 people) at the end of Beginning Day. It was the first Mass we have had since I moved back from Texas to Arizona in June. The word that sums up the day for me is “familiarity” — familiarity with our friends from California, familiarity among our small community, even for those who were meeting with us for the first time, and ultimately familiarity with Christ who is present among us. The dinner afterwards was an occasion for some of our “old” friends to share with the new friends the history of the small community in Arizona. We are looking forward to this year together.

Fr. Matt, Phoenix, AZ


​​I went to Beginning Day because I needed it so much. I need to understand how to live in front of so many catastrophes, deaths, family crosses, sick friends. But I also need to understand why so many of my friends who are caring for these crosses respond to God’s call with hope and deep joy.

Tom, our responsible, wanted to report faithfully what Davide Prosperi said at La Tuile and he did it by personalizing his notes with a slide show with images that were a mirror of his sensibility. This is what a person does when he loves. It moved me and made me smile. There is so much hope when I look at our companionship. There are families living the gift of hospitality day after day toward exchange students, neighbors, and people from other communities and countries. New members who have the humility to come to such a strange Saturday activity like the Beginning Day because they want to follow a present attraction. Mothers and fathers with several kids helping each other. Women who help me pray daily by sending Novenas for very sick friends or teens in trouble. And more, single adults that are suffering and yet keep affirming to us the value of accepting their circumstance as essential for their particular vocation and constantly giving time to help the community. Teachers who teach their classes using Fr. Giussani's method and Fr. Roberto who never tires of reminding us of the simple question: “What is Christ proposing to you right now”?

Our DC community is one of many that flourished after the presentation of Fr. Giussani's book on Religious Sense at the United Nations in 1997. After that event, many wanted to know about CL, and small communities started to spread around the US. At that point, Fr. Giussani told us not to try to organize the movement in the US because we would fail. He said that the event of Christ will precede us and we will not be able to contain ​it or keep track ​of it.

​This ​is true ​for our CL community of DC-MD-VA. Every time we gather there are always new people, and ​so a new world ​continually opens up for me. It is always a surprise event that provokes and changes me even after many many years of belonging. Sustained by this community​, I desire to ​meet everyone who ​passes by me, since I experience ​that I am loved. I would say that charity is the main activity of my community: it is a willingness to give one's life for the other​ that is the face of Christ present.

​These event​s of the Holy Spirit​ are signs of Hope for me, my dearest friends who are suffering​, and the whole world.

Laura, Maryland


CL has always been the experience of Jesus meeting me, the experience of him coming to my house, so to say. It has been a big part of me learning that I don’t have to put on a show for God.

This year we had a regional Beginning Day - which meant a long day of driving - and we found out at the last minute that many of our close friends from the Cincinnati community were not able to make the trip that day. We also didn’t really compute in our heads that driving six hours in one day with a toddler isn’t as easy as the road trips we used to take by ourselves. Needless to say, we weren’t so eager to go on that Saturday morning.

But for all the experiences I’ve had of Jesus coming into my home, that morning I had the experience of Jesus saying to me “follow me”. I was to go out with Him and meet Him in the uncomfortable and unfamiliar.

I honestly think the most educative part of the whole day for me was the long drive with my toddler and not having most of our close friends there. He is still there!

Emma, Cincinnati, OH


There is a small community participating in the life of the movement in Philadelphia. Because of this, we often end up going to New York for the most important moments of our community life.

When some of us heard that the proposal was to have a moment of witness from the International Responsible assembly in La Thuile, we wanted to organize something locally and one of us just happened to be in the same place as Holly Peterson, who had made the trip to Italy a few weeks prior. We quickly decided to invite her, and Holly accepted.

When she visited us, on a rainy September weekend, her desire to simply share her life with us, in the little time we had together, was a great blessing. She shared what she saw in La Thuile, giving us some highlights of the life together that those days in Italy had been, and by simply being with us for an afternoon that experience was recreated for our community. Holly's interest in sharing her time with us and her willingness to simply be there were moving: by listening to simple words (from her and from two of us who gave witnesses after her) and by sharing a meal together we experienced the unique beauty of communal life. A grand, little sign of Christian unity and friendship.

Massimo, Philadelphia, PA