“Legami” [Italian for “Ties”] is a group on the move in the city of Como (Italy) which was organized to create opportunities for encounter and dialogue between people living on the peripheries and young men and women. The goal is to form a relationship with those who are lonely and marginalized to respond to the universal need of humanity. The group’s experience began in 2011 from an initiative of the Oratory of the Parish of Tavernola (near Como). Grateful for the experience of serving people living on the streets of Milan, some fifteen young people understood that this experience could be repeated in the city of Como, believing that they would be able to share with their peers this faith-experience, concretely lived through the service of helping and listening to those living in situations of poverty and hardship.
One can imagine “Bonds” as the thread of a red ball of yarn, unwinding in order to surround persons, bringing their lives closer together and, regardless of differences, loving and welcoming the diversities that make each one important. It is extraordinary to establish and strengthen among ourselves and with the people we meet warm relationships based on dialogue and mutual listening.
The center of Legami’s service is the Gospel, in particular, the commandment of Love (Mt 19: 16-19) that invites us to reach out toward the other as a brother or sister. Our weekly “rounds” of meetings begin from the church of Santa Cecilia at the center of Como where, guided by our spiritual assistant, Father Francesco Gonella, CM, we listen to the Word and reflect on It. A time of sharing follows after which the participants are organized into small groups. Each group, with a guide, then goes to different destinations that include reception centers, makeshift shelters and street shelters.
With a cake to share and a glass of hot tea (or orange soda in summer) we gently approach people, without pretending to have something to give or to change their lives but with the desire to be close and get to know know them. It is a school of life where we learn the beauty of encounter and bring it into everyday life.
What do we carry in our “backpack”? A Desire to encounter: mirroring ourselves with another person leads us to recognize that contact with the other is what enlightens us about ourselves. An open heart to learn, to look beyond and thus gradually free oneself from any prejudice. Harmony: each musical note is different yet if placed next to others, something new is always born, even with those a little out of tune notes! Good ears: sometimes it is much more important to dedicate our presence to sincere listening than to try to lift morale with rivers of words. Grandma’s cake: a simple gesture that represents the meaning of our sweetness: a sweetness that tastes of family, of love. What we bring home is very personal. The imprint we left is seen when we turn around and look behind us … the result is not often recognized because the bond that has been established is often invisible. However, like a thread, when retraced, it takes us back to the person at the other end, because each time, the invitation is renewed to maintain and strengthen the vitality of the established bond.
The activity of Legami does not stop at the experience of service but aims to promote education in faith through concrete actions and to this end, it proposes workshops and animation sessions in oratories, schools, communities and associations; during the summer season, it offers formation camps.