Being back at Cenacolo during the Festival of Life was a true gift from God. As an ex of Cenacolo it always amazes me how the atmosphere once I step into the Cenacolo premises changes for me and I almost immediately feel relieved and uplifted. Despite the world being run down and preoccupied with the coronavirus situation, almost everyone in Cenacolo was full of big smiles and carrying on with life in a joyful manner. This year taking part in the translation process was highly significant as, due to the whole festival being online through streaming, Father Stefano gave us a speech to encourage and remind us of how important our service is and that we are the voice of the Community to thousands of people all over the world. What touched me was when he said that this year due to the festival being available via streaming, a drug addict may be lying on their bed in despair and in that moment have the words of the festival playing (through us translators) which may in turn make a mark on them.
All the boys and girls were placed together in the smaller tent in Saluzzo and despite smaller numbers and less crowd, the joy of the festival was alive and pumping. The gift of the community once again manifested when all the different houses across the world were able to send their greetings through video connections and seeing so many familiar faces in different parts of the world doing God’s mission is a miracle itself. Indeed, that was a theme which was repeated more than once ‘we are miracles’ and we truly are. The overall theme of the festival of life this year was ‘I tell you, Rise’. No matter how many times we fall, we must rise and never stay down. This is what Mother Elvira shows us every day through her actions and how she affronts her illness. This was another blessing – to be able to see all the videos of Mother Elvira during the festival and hear how she herself is amazed and perplexed at how the community became so big, by the grace of God.
The musical this year was slightly different and was not shown all at once in the evening, as it usually is, but in small clips throughout the four days. This itself showed how the community adapts to improvisations and still makes the best of it. The video clips were very professional yet moving and came from our boys and girls house in Medjugorje. The testimonies of the girls who played the roles highlighted again how in them they have seen God pass and heal them from their various wounds – drugs, food, guilt, depression, fear, insecurities. The days were concluded with the holy mass and various talks bringing back the community spirit and binding us in faith. Of course, no one could forget the incredible dances from our nuns and from our dancers who never failed to bring us joy and energy. I really thank God for this gift and opportunity to have gone back to Cenacolo and it certainly filled up my spiritual batteries and helped me also get back up and rise in my day to day life back at home.