Beyond the Sea – Albania 2019

A field on the road to rediscover our being Church.

Formation, service, fraternal sharing, moments of prayer, silence and reflection: it was not just a journey, but an experience that led us to go “beyond the sea”, that is, to push our horizons beyond that thin thread that very often ends up dividing us from the other.

Beyond the sea is the summer experience promoted by Caritas Diocesana Agrigento, with the support of Italian Caritas. An initiative organized in full collaboration with Caritas Albania and Caritas Sud Albania and to which the Caritas of Aversa has also joined, held from 16 to 28 August in Albania. A journey full of encounters that have opened a window on a land, a people and its history made of suffering, martyrdom, emigration, but at the same time, with all its contradictions, capable of being a model of coexistence.

From Tirana to Vlora, from Elbasan to Scutari, a path in stages that has given us important opportunities for reflection to remove all those superstructures that distort the announcement of the Gospel.

Beyond the sea I found a small Church with many daily criticalities, but authentic and capable of bending over to serve, in a free and free way, the least and the marginalized, restoring to them that humanity and that dignity that communism before, and the unbridled capitalism then, they deprived them.

I found a Gospel made of women and men of Good Will who offer empty service, silent but tangible, credible and totally free action to empty and refined words, to effect slogans. In the different villages visited, where we had the opportunity to touch and see the different poverty of this land, what struck me is the living testimony of the Vincentian nuns who have been serving there for decades, under the guidance of Sr. Camilla Maenza, director of Caritas South Albania; energetic, determined women, constantly listening to the words of the Master, whom they recognize daily in the looks and stories of those they meet. Their commitment, the ability to cope with difficulties, the way of reworking and re-reading fatigue and disappointments as an opportunity for growth and discernment, are metaphor for a Church that lives the Gospel on the field every day.

For this reason, Albania can become, even for our church, a true laboratory of faith to recover that concept of service, action and formation, which cannot absolutely be separated from the dimension of gratuity, to revive our missionary vocation more and more dormant. But above all to give back to our communities the possibility of going “beyond”, regaining possession of that concept of outgoing Church which, even before translating into more or less successful dynamics or pastoral projects, must become a way of thinking, being and living the Gospel to be able to always look … beyond.