We are delighted that a number of you were a part of the Focolare/Economy of Communion gathering Jan. 17-18, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas. It was great to have so many also join us for our first “Hearth” Webinar on Feb. 5.
This coming month’s webinar will address the question of how EoC businesses might best receive the “gift of need.” Business professor Dr. Andy Gustafson, whose EoC business is employer of former homeless folks, will be joining us.
Together we will explore best practices to love and support employees and clients coming out of incarceration, homelessness, addiction and poverty.
In addition, we will have time for each of us to share and experience the unity we have in Christ, to reflect on our vocational experiences since the conference and discern the Holy Spirit’s guidance for our work going forward.
We’ll also have an extended time to share questions about your current work or business.
FUTURE DATES: The following dates and times are set tentatively:
We are delighted that a number of you were a part of the Economy of Communion gathering Jan. 17-18, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas.
This year we’ll be encouraging you to take concrete steps in communion to live out Chiara Lubich’s charism.
We will be hosting monthly calls to give you a chance to experience the unity we have in Christ, to reflect on your vocational experience since the conference, and discern the Holy Spirit’s guidance for your work going forward.
We will begin with an overview of the last session of the San Antonio EoC conference, “Supporting an Economy of Communion: Steps toward an Economy that Works for All,” which was facilitated by Catholic University of America Dean Andrew Abela.
In our webinar, we’ll focus on questions such as:
How do EOC members and businesses function differently from other employees or businesses in some business domains like Marketing, Leading and Selling?
What do EoC businesses or practitioners do to transform the gravitational center of their companies from bottom-line/profit to relationship/unity?
How can we help you create a community of EOC workers and business owners in your city?
In addition, we will confirm future webinar topics that will be of greatest interest to EoC members.
FUTURE DATES: The following dates and times are set tentatively:
Please join the International Humanistic Management Association and Economy of Communion Association for a conversation with Jeffrey Sachs, University Professor and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, on how we can all contribute to humanizing our economy.
Date: Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 Time: 12:00 pm – 1:00pm (EDT) Location: Web conferencing. Details will be sent before the event once your RSVP is received RSVP here
Transforming Business Practice series as hosted by IHMA as a Executive Development format. It is co-sponsored by Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business.
Topic for this Conversation: “Towards The Economy of Francesco”- Pope Francis and the vision of an inclusive economy.
Please join Jeffrey Sachs for a conversation about Pope Francis’ initiative to change the economy to be in service of life.
The conversation, facilitated by Elizabeth Garlow (Coordinator of Economy of Communion, North America), and Michael Pirson (Fordham University, Director of the Center for Humanistic Management), author of Humanistic Management (Cambridge, 2017), will explore what we can do to move towards a more enlightened and enlivening form of economic practice.
Jeffrey D. Sachs is a University Professor and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he directed the Earth Institute from 2002 until 2016. He is also Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a commissioner of the UN Broadband Commission for Development. He has been advisor to three United Nations Secretaries-General, and currently serves as an SDG Advocate under Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The Economy of Francesco initiative:
The Economy of Francesco is an international meeting between young scholars and activists in the field of Economics, convened by Pope Francis.
The title of the event clearly refers to the saint of Assisi, an example par excellence of care for the least of the earth and for an integral ecology, but it also refers to Pope Francis. Ever since he wrote Evangelii Gaudium and then Laudato Si’, he has denounced the pathological state of so much of the world ‘s economy extending an invitation to put in place a new economic model.
The Holy Father met with the Bishop of Assisi, Domenico Sorrentino and the economist Luigino Bruni, Professor of Political Economy at Lumsa because of his genuine concern for the world. The idea of addressing the challenges of the economy, starting from the thought and economic action of young people, was supported enthusiastically by the Holy Father. This resulted in a call addressed to young economists and entrepreneurs of the world.
The organization of the event The Economy of Francesco. Young people, a pact, the future – Assisi 2020 immediately required the setting up of a Committee to get to work organising all that is necessary for the preparation of such an important initiative. The Diocese of Assisi, the Seraphic Institute, the Municipality of Assisi and the Economy of Communion are all members of the committee, in regular contact with Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Prefect of the Vatican Department for the Service of Integral Human Development, who is the patron of the initiative. For more information click here:https://francescoeconomy.org/
There is a lot of economy in that cave in Bethlehem. There lies the most powerful image of the “economy of salvation”, of that mysterious, divine and human convenience that turned the Word of God into a Child.
There are also workers (shepherds) present, Joseph a carpenter is also present, the animals of the stable are also there, which in that ancient economy were the first elements of production. There is a young woman, Mary, who knew about domestic economy and primary relationships.
The economics of money and the economy of the Kingdom confronted each other around that manger, a comparison that would later become a constant in the teachings of Jesus. The Inns that is, the Bethlehem businesses, did not have ‘room’ for that birth. A family, however, perhaps just one person, among the people of Bethlehem, found room for them in the only place he or she had available: a stable. And so the economy of Christmas was Communion. A certain type of economy did not find room, because all the spaces available were already occupied, and another kind of economy gave way to a new process. The economics of space and the economics of processes, the economy of Francis and the economy of Bernardine, the bareness of the Child of Bethlehem and the bareness of that ‘poor man’ of Assisi.
Looking at our world today, we must admit that it was not the economy of the Cave or that of Francis that ended up becoming the economy that rules the business surrounding Christmas, all holidays and all weekdays. Profit continues to win and the gift to be bare.
Even today, however, faced with the bareness of children and the poor around the world, we need to ask ourselves what kind of economy we want. Each approaching Christmas Day asks us the same question every year: which side are you on? What is your economy?
The next meeting of the North American Association of the Economy of Communion (EoC) will be held in San Antonio, TX on January 17-18, 2020, as part of a wider event titled ‘A Hearth for the Human Family‘, to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the founder of the EoC and of the Focolare Movement Chiara Lubich.
From its humble origins in Trent, Italy during World War II to the Focolare Movement’s current extension throughout the globe, people who live a spirituality of unity aim to create a warm and open spaces of mutual care, concern and acceptance across every form of social, economic, cultural, ethnic, religious and political difference.
To celebrate the centenary of the birth of Focolare founder Chiara Lubich, this interactive event delves into how a spirituality of unity might help us to build community in the midst of cultural and political polarization.
Peter J. Leithar, President of Theopolis Institute published an article featuring the Economy of Communion on First Things on July 5th, 2019. The article serves as a nice introduction to the Economy of Communion initiative by documenting its origins and its spiritual underpinnings.
By Peter Leithard
During a visit to Brazil in 1991, the Italian Catholic activist Chiara Lubich called for a new way of doing business. In a speech near São Paolo, she sketched a picture of “productive communion” and “a communion of goods . . . at a superior level.” She envisioned businesses using profits not only to grow but also to benefit the poor, businesses putting “the needs and aspirations of the human person, and the common good, at the center of their attention,” businesses guided not by self-interest but by “reciprocal love.” Businesses can become “a ‘meeting place’ . . . a place of communion.” Word of the proposal spread quickly in Brazil, sparking what has become a global network of hundreds of businesses that see themselves as part of an “Economy of Communion” (EoC).
Lubich was already well-known in Brazil as the founder of Focolare. Focolare began in Lubich’s hometown of Trent, Italy, during World War II, when she and some friends devoted themselves to caring for the poorest residents in that war-torn town. The movement lived by a “culture of giving,” in which each member gave what he could, even if the only “gift” was a need. Adherents sought to mimic the habits of the early Christians. No one was forced to sell property, but everyone saw property as a trust from God to be devoted to the common good. Some of the original focolarini sold their possessions, while others committed to regular donations. They aimed to fulfill the vision of Deuteronomy: There shall be no poor among you.
Focolare wasn’t just charity work. “Focolare” means “hearth,” and evokes the solidarity, intimacy, warmth, and security of family and home. The focolarini opened their homes to give Trent’s poor a literal place at the hearth. Focolare’s work involved transfers of property, but at its heart it was an effort to foster communion.
Within a few years, Focolare had three thousand members, mostly in northern Italy. By 2000, there were four million throughout the world, with large numbers in Italy, Brazil, Argentina, and the Philippines. Today, Focolare runs hundreds of charitable and development projects, publishing houses and media outlets, and retreat centers. It promotes the arts, political action, ecumenical and interreligious dialogues, and has built model towns like Loppiano, Italy, visited by Pope Francis in May 2018.
The Economy of Communion was an outgrowth of Focolare. During her 1991 tour of Focolare communities in Brazil, Lubich saw the limits of her initial concept. Charity alone wasn’t sufficient to meet the needs of the most desperate poor, and, besides, the original movement gave no attention to the good of work or production. Focolare needed to create wealth, but this had to be done without sacrificing the movement’s original culture. EoC extends the Focolare vision of “selfless giving solidarity and attention to the least” from non-profit into profit-making enterprises. As Lubich said in a 1999 speech in Strasbourg, “the actors within the Economy of Communion businesses seek to live out . . . the same lifestyle that they live in other areas of their life.”
In a 2014 study of the EoC, Structures of Grace, John Gallagher and Jeanne Buckeye attempt to isolate the unique habits, rituals, and practices of these businesses. In many ways, they operate like any other business. They produce and sell goods and services, seek profit, hire and train workers, enter into relationships with suppliers, market and promote to expand their customer base. But there are some distinctive features.
EoC businesses distribute their profits in three directions. One portion is reinvested in the business, another supports Focolare’s charity work, and another goes to publishers, newsletters, and formation centers that advance Focolare’s “culture of giving.” Giving also characterizes the internal culture of EoC businesses. Because they’re primarily focused on persons rather than things, they nurture communion in work and labor, making the workplace into a “hearth.” This translates into specific practices, such as consultation with workers in planning, open reporting of profits and losses, celebrations and storytelling, and attention to the personal and spiritual development of employees. Following Lubich’s model, EoC businesses form “relationships based on openness and trust among all those with a stake in the business – consumers, competitors, local and international communion, public administration.” Some businesses in the network tell how sharing critical information opened up avenues of collaboration with competitors.
Spirituality is the distinctive mark of EoC businesses. Lubich said that businesses must “leave room for God’s intervention, even in concrete economic operations.” Trusting God, they find that “God never fails to provide that ‘something more’ which Christ promised: revenue which was unexpected, a new opportunity, the offer of collaboration, an idea for a new successful product.” By consulting workers, EoC managers say they’re tapping into the Spirit’s creativity. They don’t believe in an anonymous invisible hand; they believe their businesses are under the care of a loving, generous heavenly Father.
Lubich saw both Focolare and EoC as aspects of a larger mission to unite the human race. Inspired by Jesus’s prayer that his disciples “would be one, as we, Father, are one,” she advocated a “spirituality of unity,” rooted in the belief that “all people are called to live as sons and daughters of God.” Uniting people divided by politics, social class, economic status, race and ethnicity, age and sex gives a “foretaste of a more united world.” EoC businesses harness production, exchange, distribution, sales, and marketing toward fulfillment of Jesus’s prayer.
This spirituality and sense of mission grows out of Trinitarian theology, which implies a Trinitarian anthropology. God gives himself in suffering love, and has created human beings for self-giving love. As Lubich said, “I felt that I was created as a gift for the person next to me, and the person next to me was created by god as a gift for me. As the Father in the Trinity is everything for the Son and the Son is everything for the Father.” At work as much as at church, a human being is homo donator rather than homo economicus. Made in the image of the God who is love, we’re fulfilled as producers, workers, managers, entrepreneurs not primarily in having but “in loving, in giving.”
From 26 to 28 March 2020 the city of Assisi will host The Economy of Francis, an international event aimed at young economists, entrepreneurs, and change-makers engaged in thinking and practicing a different type of economy. The invitation to participate comes directly from Pope Francis, through a letter in which he invites young economists and entrepreneurs from all over the world of all backgrounds and beliefs to the City of St Francis, which is a symbol of humanism and fraternity. The goal of the meeting is to initiate a process of global change to build a more just, inclusive and sustainable economy that does not leave people behind. The event is organized by a committee composed of the Diocese of Assisi, the Assisi City Council, the Seraphic Institute of Assisi and the Economy of Communion.
The most complex problems in today’s world, from safeguarding the environment to justice for the poor, need a courageous commitment to rethinking the economic paradigms of our time. In the Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, the Holy Father recalled that everything is intimately connected and that the Earth is our “common home”. He launched an appeal to defend it and all of humanity that inhabits the Earth. He warned us against the careless exploitation of resources and short-sighted policies that look to immediate success without prospects for the long-term. Inspired by the example of St Francis, it is therefore necessary to rebuild a new integral ecology, one that is inseparable from the concept of the common good, which must be implemented through choices based on solidarity and the “preferential option for the poor” starting “from solving the structural problems of the world economy.”
«Pope Francis’ invitation to young economists and entrepreneurs is an event that marks a historic step forward because it brings together two of the Pope’s key themes and passions: his priority for the youth and his pursuit of a new type of economy. In his name, we are inviting young economists and entrepreneurs who are more sensitive to the spirit of Francis’ Oikonomia, to share with them the best of today’s economic thought and practices around the world. The word Oikonomia brings together many realities: the Greek root recalls household management but it also refers to the care of our common home, the OIKOS. We also consider it in reference to Oikonomia as understood by the Fathers of the Church: a theological category of universal salvation. Assisi is an essential part of the event because it is a city that points to a different type of economy. Various venues in Assisi will host parts of the program, which will be built around the three pillars of Francis’ Oikonomia: the youth, the environment and the poor», says Prof. Luigino Bruni, Scientific Director of the Committee.
For Pope Francis, the event represents the consolidation of a “pact to change the current economy and give a soul to the economy of tomorrow”. It intends to give hope for the rights of future generations, for welcoming life, for social equity, for the dignity of workers and the preservation of our planet. From 26 to 28 March 2020, The Economy of Francis will consist of workshops, artistic events, seminars and plenary sessions with renowned economists and experts in sustainable development and the humanities, who will reflect and work together with the youth.