The coordinator of Communion and Liberation in North America believes the Catholic lay movement can help people there realize that “the American dream” finds its greatest fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
“There is something that is deeply rooted in the people of North America, we call it ‘the American dream,’ that is a fundamentally positive attitude about life, an idea that the future is going to bring something better,” said Christopher Bacich in an Aug. 21 CNA interview.
“People who have encountered Jesus Christ through Communion and Liberation, and I’m sure I can speak for many of us, recognize that the encounter with Christ, and his presence in our life, is the answer to this desire for a life that is better, that is great, that is worthwhile and fruitful.”
Communion and Liberation grew out of the teaching methods of its Italian founder Father Luigi Giussani, who died in 2005. As a high school teacher during the 1950s in Milan, he wanted to help young people live out their Catholic faith in everyday life.
Bacich recounted how Fr. Giussani would always bring his high school students back to the “most elementary aspects of the Gospel” as he explained that Christianity “did not begin as anybody’s idea or as a moral code or even a liturgical event” but, instead, originated with “people meeting a person.”
“It began on the shore of the Jordan River,” said Bacich, “when two men heard another man say ‘There goes the Lamb of God,’ they walked across and they followed that man who turned around and said, ‘What are you looking for?’”
The same story held true “for everybody in the Gospels,” he noted, including the Samaritan woman, Zacchaeus, St. Matthew, the lepers and demoniacs. For the reason, the movement’s charism “emphasizes that experience of encounter with a human being, with a human person, with a human reality that is different, is essential to Christianity.”
From his base in New York, 42-year-old Bacich helps coordinate the growth of Communion and Liberation in Canada and the United States. Currently the movement has an estimated 200 communities with over 5,000 members across North America.
“That ranges from several hundred people in New York, Washington, D.C. or Montreal, down to small communities of 10 and 20 in places like Crosby, Minnesota or Lincoln, Nebraska.”
It can also include those who are already members of religious orders and “feel that their relationship to their own particular charisms is regenerated through the experience of the charism of Communion and Liberation,” he said.
Bacich believes that a defining characteristic of the movement’s North American members is that they have a “real willingness to grapple with the real life, everyday culture in which we live, while showing no fear, like Pope John Paul II said, ‘Be not afraid.’”