HOLY LAND - On January 31, 2021, Margaret Karram, a Haifa-born Palestinian, became the third president of the Focolare Movement, succeeding Maria Voce and the Movement’s founder Chiara Lubich. The news of her election elicited great pride and joy worldwide and from her home country.
Margaret was 15 years old when she first learned about the Focolare Movement and the spirituality of Chiara Lubich; a spirituality of unity that she embraced in a place where racial and religious intolerance still exists.
Throughout her life, Margaret was involved in the promotion of interreligious dialogue and has worked with the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (AOCTS), the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI) and the Episcopal Commission for Interreligious Dialogue. She also held many positions in the Focolare Movement in the Holy Land and Los Angeles.
“Here I am! I am at your service. I am at the service of the Church, of the Movement and humanity together with all of you,” said Margaret, now 58, upon her election by two-third of the 359 representatives in the General Assembly of the Focolare Movement, which started on January 24 and will conclude on February 7. “When my name came out, I was deeply moved. At the same time I really felt within me the strength of the Spirit, who I had been invoking the whole day”.
Since the election, congratulatory messages and well wishes have been pouring in for Margaret. On the Focolare website, one can read the heart-warming support that readers expressed when they heard the news. One reader wrote, “We thank God for the gift of Margaret, and may she always be guided by the Holy Spirit.” At the same time, another said, “the great joy for the election of the new president was multiplied when I listened to her first simple words full of so much love for us, for the Church and for humanity. I was impressed by her meek and Marian aspect.”
Members of the Focolare Movement in Jerusalem recognized the new responsibility and commitment they have now in living the Focolare Spirituality and charism of unity that God gave to Chiara Lubich. They also gave thanks to the Holy Spirit “for this grace that He bestowed on Margaret and that He may enlighten her way and inspire her in her service to the Work of Mary.”
In a letter to Margaret, H.B. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, expressed his joy “to see that a daughter of our Church has been chosen for such a delicate and demanding service.” He also wished her to continue doing God’s will, knowing that she has “the human and spiritual resources to lead the Movement towards new horizons… and in her new service will bring the “flavor” of the Holy Land.”
Fr. Francesco Patton, OFM, Custos of the Holy Land, also conveyed his warm wishes and those of the Franciscan Friars “for this new call to service of Our Lord and His Church, according to the charisma of unity.” He invoked the Lord to support her in this appointment and enlighten her mind and heart that she “may listen to the voice of the Spirit.”
“[She] is the daughter of a respected family from Haifa that was known for its love, faith, and generosity towards the Church,” read a statement by the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries. “Margaret joined the Focolare Movement since its inception in our country in the 1970s and was known for her prominent role in promoting the status of the Movement in the Holy Land.”
The Order of the Holy Sepulchre, on its Facebook page, congratulated the new president of the Focolare Movement and underscored her work in interfaith dialogue in the Holy Land. It is worth mentioning that Margaret’s father, Boulos Karram, was invested in the Order in 1964 by then Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Alberto Gori, who recognized Mr. Karram’s excellent cooperation and activity in the reconstitution of the Haifa Parish following the terrible events of 1947-1948 in the Holy Land.
"Be a family, in the truest sense of the word"
Now, Margaret will lead the Movement for the next six years. “What I feel more than anything for the next six years is to be able to live more and more the legacy that Chiara gave us: be a family, in the truest sense of the word, because only in this way we can achieve that specific goal which is unity,” said Margaret.
Photo: ©CSC Audiovisivi