A New School of Community in Los Angeles

"It has shown me the power of living in communion with others and, most importantly, with myself."
Ellynore Florendo

In Los Angeles, where the pace of life is fast — where there’s barely a moment to genuinely answer a person’s inquiry “How are you?” and a latent skepticism that it could ever be a genuine question — a little flock of people are meeting near LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) to testify to themselves and to the world that humanity exists.

Since the onset of COVID and continuing on after the world’s doors opened again to community, most Schools of Community in the Southern California region (with a few exceptions) have been meeting online. Guido, Nancy and Maurizio, the mainstays of the School of Community near LAX, discovered within themselves a need to live their experience of this companionship in the flesh. As Guido put it, “In the last few months I have had different encounters with new friends and people that expressed the need of ‘having a place, a home,’ and the drama of not yet having found it. This cry has accompanied me in these months.” Los Angeles is a city of the transient, where the majority of people who become a part of the community stay for a few months, maybe a few years, and then another aspect of life calls them away. It is common to feel this lack of belonging in Los Angeles.

This call to meet the need of a “place” is embedded in the wider context of what Pope Francis has called Communion and Liberation to do: “so that the charism that Don Giussani left you may reach new people and new environments, so that it may be able to speak to today’s world, which has changed since the beginnings of your movement. There are many men and many women who have not yet had that encounter with the Lord that has changed your life and made it beautiful!” (Pope Francis to Communion and Liberation at St. Peter’s Square on October 15, 2022).

These two aspects coupled together led to the proposal of the in-person School of Community to the parishioners of the Church of Visitation. As Nancy witnessed in a conversation with a parishioner, the proposal is a simple one:

“So what does your group do?”
“Our group is education in the faith to Jesus Christ and friendship.”
“Um…that’s simple. What do you do at your meetings?”
“We read a book that Msgr Luigi Giussani wrote and we compare our experience with what is written.”
“What’s the book about?”
“Faith and reason. It’s how they go together to help us recognize Christ in life.”
“This is something really needed in the church. I am glad you guys are here. How long is your group meeting, like a couple of months?”
“No. We are meeting for the rest of our lives as the education in faith is something we need forever.”
She chuckled and, with a smile and sparkle in her eyes, responded, “That’s right, we sure do.”

In judging his experience, Guido said, “In the simplicity of the small gesture that we have done in our parish to invite people, something new broke open in me. There is now wonder in recognizing that I have been given this place out of love for my life. It is because of the awareness of this gift that life and circumstances become a humble offering of His love and His friendship to the thirst of the people in the parish He has chosen to put on my path.”

Maurizio now leads the in-person School of Community group at the parish and expressed the value it has had on his life: “My involvement in the School of Community at Visitation has been truly transformative. The shared experiences and connections I've made have given me a deeper understanding of communion. It's not just about attending Sunday Mass or following rituals or agreeing and debating on beliefs. It's about embracing a profound sense of togetherness and questioning the reasons behind our beliefs. It has shown me the power of living in communion with others and, most importantly, with myself. It has made me reflect on the ‘why’ and not take anything I receive for granted.”