The International Center for Unity and Peace
The plan consists of the construction of an international center of spirituality, study, dialogue and formation.
Its objectives will be:
- to create a space for meetings and prayer among Christians of various Churches in light of the charism of unity of Chiara Lubich;
- to promote respect, tolerance and the capacity to live together by furthering mutual knowledge and dialogue among the faithful of varying religions;
- to offer a space for study and research in the intercultural, ecumenical and interreligious fields;
- to offer exchange meetings, courses of formation and volunteer activities on international and local levels for young adults and teenagers; to provide for Christian youth, in the various holy sites linked to the life of Jesus, opportunities for vocational discernment;
- to offer meetings and formation courses for youth and educators, especially in the field of peace education;
- to create intercultural pathways for pilgrims and visitors to the Holy Land so as to develop a culture of dialogue through knowledge of art and of the holy sites;
- to offer a message of fraternity and peace also to the occasional local visitors and to the inhabitants of the surrounding area.
To meet these objectives, the Center will host:
- seminars and conferences on ecumenical dialogue and interreligious dialogue (Jewish-Christian, Islamic-Christian, Jewish-Christian-Islamic);
- courses in Jewish-Christian and Islamic-Christian dialogue in collaboration with Sophia Global Studies;
- cultural studies of the Charism of Unity, in collaboration with the Abba School;
- formation courses on Sacred Scripture;
- pathways for vocational discernment;
- prayer meetings for unity and peace;
- activities offering peace education to young people, families, workers-in-the-field, educators, etc.;
- relaxation and recreation for local families, with the construction of a park, playground area for children and spaces for concerts and shows.
- courses in dialogue among Christians offered in collaboration with Sophia University Institute’s Patriarch Athenagoras I – Chiara Lubich Chair, with special attention given to the relations between the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches, and the Oriental Orthodox Churches;
- exhibitions on various topics related to the life of Chiara Lubich and the Focolare Movement;
In the rich and complex context of Jerusalem, this Center for Unity and Peace would like to be an area open to persons of diverse ages, cultures, beliefs and origins. It would be a Center to enable and encourage the encounter and knowledge of others, fostering an experience of authentic fraternity. In particular, it would serve as a privileged space where young people from different backgrounds could discover one another as partners in the building of a better future together.
The building project
On August 2, 2016, the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee gave final approval of the plan of the “Focolare Visitor Center.”
The Center is planned as a multi-use structure suitable for hosting various local and international events and initiatives. It will cover two floors with a total surface area of 1,180 square meters: a lower floor is to be comprised of modular partitions with the possibility of seminar halls, an exhibition area, a library and a prayer room; the upper floor will include an auditorium for 150 persons, an administrative area and a coffee bar.
An essential and important part of the project is the surrounding open area of almost 8,000 square meters where rest areas will alternate with green zones, thus facilitating socializing and interactive activities.
From November 2016 to March 2018 excavations were carried out to determine whether there were archaeological finds requiring a specific conservation plan. Once this phase was completed, the authorization was granted, and steps are therefore now underway to present the detailed plans to the official bodies for the purpose of obtaining the building permit.