On the Wave of Genfest 2012

7  September 2012

An Audience with the Pope.   Figures  about  social networks.

When the Genfest in Budapest was over,  1700  young people  who took part in it,   proceeded  to  visit the Focolare Centre in Rome.   Originating from  41 countries outside Europe,  they  took the opportunity  of  travelling to Europe   to go deeper into the values  that inspired the Genfest.


Last Wednesday they  had a general audience with the Pope and at the end,  a delegation  greeted  him personally on behalf of the  12,000 present in Budapest.

There were many positive comments  about the event in Budapest, particularly about  the  participation  through   direct internet and social networks. There were  more than four million interactions on Facebook, and the most shared post was a photo of the dome of St. Stephen’s Basilica  in front of which  bridges formed by human hands could be seen.  Access to live transmissions on internet exceeded  the 24,000.

Press Release

Genfest 2012: Thanks Budapest!

Conclusion of  the Genfest on Sunday morning in the city ofBudapest: St Stephen’s Square, right in the  heart of the city,   set  for the celebration of  Holy Mass, welcomed  the Catholic youth of the Genfest. Mass was presided over by Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop of Budapest.  Young people belonging to other  Christian Churches celebrated their liturgies in their respective places of worship, while  other venues were prepared for the 160 between Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus.  Shortly before noon, they all met in St Stephen’s Square  to unite in  a moment of silence and prayer for peace, the Time-Out.

This morning dedicated to prayer was of great importance to many who wanted to stop and reflect.  These moments of reflection gave one the chance to confirm the validity of the ideals and projects mentioned during the previous days and  also  of the various concrete experiences lived.

The next appointment is at Rio de Janiero. Two Brazilians went up on stage and invited  everyone  for World Youth Day 2013. “Let’s bridge” will continue to be part of  everyone’s   everday life through   the commitment taken during these days inBudapest.  The beautiful city of bridges on the River Danube  also contributed towards this.


Press Release n. 8

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Genfest 2012: Day 2 – Evening

21:00, the Chain Bridge. For about half an hour the 12,000 participants  made their way  to this locality.  Then, it was  dark and one could admire the beautiful effect of the lights on the waters of the River Danube.  It was really a breathtaking sight, a well-deserved one after  the seven kilometres walk along the streets of Budapest.

The march   started from the Sports Arena and   proceeded towards  Great Heroes Square.  A wide banner with the words “Let’s Bridge” could  be seen at the  front. The young people were waving the  flags of their respective countries, just as they did when they were in the arena.  A DUNA TV helicopter, flying over the crowd contributed  towards  the  joyful celebration. After Heroes Square,  the march recomposed itself again to  resume its way to Andassy Avenue and then to Szechenyi Square.  Chain Bridge , which is very near,  had already been closed to traffic and  it started to fill up.

Everything was ready for the flashmob. The scarf-shaped light piece of material that each one  carried, had the logo of the Genfest and the “=” sign printed on it. As soon as the word “stop” was heard on the microphone, everyone stopped and put  his/her arms up  holding the scarf.   There was  absolute silence. A countdown of  30 seconds was started, until a voice was heard  uttering  the numbers “3, 2,1”. Then shouts of joy could be heard, and scarves were waved.  Each participant   wrote on his scarf   the   significance of  the “=” sign  for the logo “Let’s Bridge” and    exchanged  this with others. This symbolized the sharing of the same ideal, concretized in so many different ways.

It was 22.30; the crowd started to disperse.   Someone  was heard saying  that this was the largest flashmob done so far on a bridge.  The young people looked visibly proud about all that was happening, and also  because their contribution  was giving visibility  to what they have proposed to do. I was particularly struck by an event that might  go unnoticed.  Two vehicles were  expected to follow the march and pick up the garbage  created  by the 12,000 participants. These two vehicles were declared available for other needs:  no waste was thrown on the ground.

Video on youtube: The Biggest Flashmob on a Bridge! (Genfest in Budapest)

Genfest 2012: DAY 2 – afternoon

September 1, 2012

At 3:30 p.m., fed on the typical Hungarian Káposzta, the 12,000 participants continue to build what  they started this morning.
Finishing to build the bridge is the next step. As an image of unity, it goes through concrete actions in every quotidian ambient. Without forgetting what is the key that makes the bridge arch not to fall: to love also when there is pain. Some Italian youth illustrate that, they are committed in a reception center for illegal immigrants. Through images and sound, they present some of their friends. And also Adhelard and Ariane illustrate it. From Burundi, they make all the participants take part of the life in a field of ex-refugee at the suburbs of Bujumbura. Or even Kaye, who, from Philippines, brings her hard experience of familiar separation. These are stories that, until now, have not had a happy end, but, lived with love, allow them to prove the fullness of life also in these painful situations.
It is created, therefore, solid basis which allow us to go through the bridge, the last step of this figurative way. The bridge opens to many streets. Issa, Christian from Nazaret, and Noura, Muslim from Jerusalem, know that. They meet regularly, together with other Christian, Muslims, and Hebrew young people, who have been presented in SportArena through Facebook, to know each other and pray for peace.
It is time for presenting the United World Project, created and developed by some of the youths who are present at SportAréna. A project which aim to create a world observatory for fraternity actions, highlighting the many things that have already been done. It also tries to obtain ONU recognition, and, with this goal, launch a collecting of signatures that starts on the stage. An orange bracelet becomes symbol of personal adhesion to the project. The collecting of signatures and the creation of United World Network, first step of the project, will commit the youth during the next months.
Also the designated president of the Japanese Buddhist movement Rissho Kosei-kai Kosho Niwano, that, together with a delegation of this Buddhist movement from Japan, adheres to the project and greets the participants.
Finally, the expected speech of Maria Voce. The president of Focolare Movement is welcomed with a long and warm applause. She says she is touched seeing from the stage so many youths who still wait for her words. She says that her heart is taken by this generation and want to help them to look high and do not have fear. “Be yourselves and enter personally in the society. Your contribute is unique, different from that of adults. The generation before you look at you trustfully, you also must have this trust.” Afterwards, she invites everybody to action. An action characterized by the love that touches the hearts and leads them to love. A concrete love that starts with small things which make the life big and affect society. “Only love is creative!”, says Maria Voce, quoting Massimiliano Kolbe, to conclude with Chiara Lubich’s words, inviting everybody to take the world a “supplement of love”.
The 12,000 are very happy when they leave the SportAréna at 5:30 p.m. It is time to take dinner and go to the rally until the Chain Bridge, on Danube, for the flashmob of “Let’s bridge”. The thought of rain, which have passed during the morning, seems to be far away. Of course the clouds are gone but it’s not that the point. It was a day lived at Aréna that will remain in everybody’s hearts and minds.

Genfest 2012: DAY 2 – morning

September 1, 2012

Rainy night inBudapest. The cloudy and cold morning brings thoughts about the rally and flashmob scheduled for the night in the center of the city. However, for the 12,000 young people, that moment is still far.
10:30 a.m. The program starts at SportAréna. The speeches, songs, choreography, in a variety of sounds, colors and movements, go through the metaphor of building a bridge. “Let’s bridge”, many times used as a greeting, gets a different depth.

Calculating is the first step. There are conflicts, as Bassem from Egypt tells in the experience made after the events at Tahrir Square. There is social exclusion, highlighted by the experience that Plinio, from Brazil, lived. There is context of violence which calls revenge… or possible choices to let it go. It is necessary to think a lot before deciding to face the problematical current situations.
Getting your hands dirty, digging the mud is the next step. The youths from Thailand can say it literally when they tell the experience of helping the flood victim from their own country. There, the message is the commitment in first person, meeting the situations of need, in which frequently the future of other people is involved. Then, Ricardo from Chile, on stage, and the youths from Indonesia and Sweden, through video connection, tell their experiences as well.

Building the columns. At this point it is spoken about foundation. It is the moment to remember Chiara Lubich’s experience, through a theatrical monologue and the synthesis of her speech at ONU. The message is clear: to choose God, who is Love and lead to love. He and the neighbors. The golden rule, in the Christian Scriptures, says: “Do unto others as you would have them to do you”. However, even with different nuance, the holy texts of other big religions say the same. It is confirmed by the experiences told by the young people from India, Christians and Hindu, a young couple from Switzerland, and last, but not least, Nacho’s experience, an Argentine youth who decided to leave a promising career as a soccer player to choose to live full time for the others. Courageous choices, often against the tide, always bring us of fulness of life.

The morning is closed with the Time-out, a minute of silence and pray for the peace. The metaphor of building a bridge continues after lunch.

Day 1 - Start up and international concert

SportArena, at 3 p.m. The gray deck area becomes multicolor with the arrival of the participants of Genfest. The householder youths from Eastern Europe receive the participants with stands that show their hospitality tradition. In fact, it is the first time, since its first edition, in 1973, that Genfest leavesItalyand lands at Budapest.
In SportAréna, groups of youths with flags of their countries pass from stand to stand, each one representing a country from the part of the world they live. There are also some artistic performances.

At 7:30 p.m., punctual, the program in SportAréna start. Initial greetings of the three presenters, welcome speech of Budapest Mayor István Tarlós, greetings of the president of the General Conference of UNESCO, Katalin Bogyay, reading of the greetings of Pope Benedict XVI transmitted by the letter of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Afterwards, the concert. There are 22 songs chosen amongst several written by participants from all around the world and sent throughout the last months. Sometimes a DJ on minor stage present some remix of historical pieces from the last Genfests.

The youths who are in arena dance, sing, are in tune with the climate which are created. A joy climate shared by everybody. At Budapest Aréna, everybody is an actor.
But also in the rest of the world the participation is huge: it is announced on the stage that more than 400,000 people follow this night through direct live internet streaming and social networks.

Let’s bridge! Zero hour to Genfest 2012

On this afternoon, in the “bridge city”, theater and ideal frames of the event start.

12000 participants in Budapest and thousands connected in their countries will follow the event through a world direct satellite television, shot by 4 national and regional television, one live streaming in 8 languages (http://www.genfest.org/live), one web TV, 7 official channels on Facebook in 7 languages and other social networks.

The Genfest numbers – 104 countries: almost 8500 from Europe (3700 from Eastern Europe), 850 from Asia, 1300 from Americas, about a hundred from Africa and a small group from Oceania, 250 from the Middle East. Two thirds are Christians from different churches, about a hundred are from other religions, and a significant participation of people from other cultures. Genfest will be translated into 27 languages.

Press Release n.7

Genfest 2012 “Let’s bridge”: all protagonists!

Budapest (Hungary) – August 31 – September 2, 2012

A network of thousands of young people at the Zero Hour. 12,000 present in Budapest. Link-up with New Zealand, Indonesia and Sweden. Live on television. Internet live streaming. Mounting traffic on social networks.

There is great anticipation a week before the Genfest. The youth of the Focolare have been working for more than a year on all the details of this event, along with the adults of the Movement, in a communion of ideas and professional experiences that have created the Genfest program.
The theme of Genfest 2012 "Let's bridge" is to build bridges of brotherhood. The program follows the idea of building a bridge : digging in the dirt, erecting the pillars, building the bridge, walking over the bridge. Each step will be illustrated with choreography, songs and testimonies of fraternity lived in daily life. There is the much-awaited talk of Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement and the launch of the United World Project.
Three thousand volunteers and 600 actors, technicians and staff are involved.

The last Genfest was held in 2000 and this year - Tenth Edition - will be the first since the death of Chiara Lubich who will be remembered during the Genfest with video excerpts and artistic presentations.

Press release n°6: “Genfest 2012 Let’s bridge: all protagonists!”


Media Technical Information

“Let’s bridge”: to launch bridges and weave relationships with others

There are so many activities in the world through which the young people try to overcome barriers. Some will be shown in Budapest.

The Genfest will also be for the 12,000 participants a moment of exchange of experiences that the youth all over the world have carried out for years, on economy, art, social problems, intercultural dialogue.

Living for universal brotherhood is expressed in daily choices, concrete actions in relating with others, lived in the light of the “Golden rule”. The young protagonists will talk of these in Budapest, from the youth of Cairo to those of Holy Land, from a Buddhist Thai to a group from Burundi. There will be sharing of personal experiences and activities that show the youth’s commitment in crisis caused by catastrophes, natural calamities or conflicts, and how young people face the challenge of the diversities in religion or culture, with a wide-ranging dialogue.

The project United World Project, that will be launched in its first phase right in Budapest, aims to highlight and promote the brotherhood lived by individuals, groups, nations. They will also give birth to a Permanent International Observatory, recognized by the UN.


Press Release n.5



In Budapest an Observatory will be launched on brotherhood


The Genfest 2012 in Budapest, from 31 August to 2 September, will be the occasion for the launch of the United World Project; a project to give life to a permanent Observatory on the impact of fraternity, “the forgotten principle” of modern history, in individual and collective choices.

The project was conceived and developed by the young people of the Focolare, and is open to collaborating with other youth associations and international networks, also of other faiths and cultures. 

There are three phases to the United World Project: Network, Watch, Workshop.
* United World Network: the forming of a network of young people in the whole world who will be asked to personally commit, with their signature, in promoting the “golden rule;” do to others as you would want done to you.
* United World Watch: the constitution of an international permanent Observatory to examine activities and initiatives which in fact are done in order to generate an “increase in fraternity.” In addition, the Observatory will also promote “the category of fraternity” through specific cultural initiatives.  
* United World Workshop: the request to the UN to recognize the international interest in the World Unity Week, confirming and expanding even more the annual appointment that for over 15 years the Youth of the Focolare – together with many others – have been committed to, in order to give voice to universal brotherhood.

The first phase of the project will begin during the Genfest and will take place at the beginning of the next World Unity Week, on May 1, 2013, when the permanent Observatory will be officially inaugurated. Instead the process of recognition by the UN has already begun.

Focus: June 2012, the Genfest is taking shape

Authors, producers, choreographers, costume designers, technicians, artistic directors and the organizing team put together the pieces developed throughout the past year, composing the mosaic of Genfest 2012, which will take place in Budapest from August 31st to September 2nd, 2012.

In Rome, 90 young people and adults of the Focolare Movement took stock of the preparations for the Genfest. Twelve thousand people have already booked and the seats are practically sold out. The participants are coming from the world over, representing many countries: from Madagascar, the USA, Russia, Portugal, Korea, Chile etc. There are 500 people involved in the production, including the team from Hungary that is organizing the logistics, lodging, meals and institutional contacts.

“Let’s Bridge” – The programme of the Genfest foresees a range of activities, all aiming at building bridges of fraternity: a concert, choreographies, a Flashmob on the Chain Bridge, exchanges of experiences of daily life, sharing current initiatives and launching the first stage of the United World Project, that foresees the setting up of a Permanent Observatory of practicing fraternity and its recognition by the UN.
Many of these moments will be transmitted on live streaming and can be followed on the event’s channels on social networks.

For more information:

Social Media Press Release: Focus: June 2012, the Genfest is taking shape


At the start of Genfest year May 1st 2012 – May 1st 2013, in live streaming

Let’s bridge - Building bridges of brotherhood from the ground up

The breaking grounds open with a worldwide youth rally of the Focolare Movement. In one year’s work, milestones include the focal point Genfest at Budapest, from August 31 to September 2, 2012. The worldwide event will gather youth of 150 countries, all moved by the same idea, which is also witness and social action: universal brotherhood. Preparations are in full swing everywhere, including thousands of ideas, strength and imagination in raising money and inviting friends. All of these are opportunities to build bridges of brotherhood.


With the May 1st Meeting at Loppiano connecting with the worldwide live streaming at 12:00 (GMT+1), that will allow thousands of young people from Syria to Japan and Nairobi to Sydney to share testimonies and present projects with the 1500 participants at Loppiano, in light of the Budapest date.


A year dedicated to universal brotherhood including the launch of the United World Project, a global youth network creating a permanent Observatory of brotherhood practices recognized by the UN.


To learn more and to follow the worldwide live streaming (active from 11:00 GMT+1):

www.genfest.org (click on “LIVE” in the main menu bar)


Press Release n.1

Press Release n.2



Genfest 2012 - Let's Bridge

What? The Genfest is a meeting of thousands of young people from different countries, ethnic groups, cultures and religions, all motivated by the same ideal: to live every day and every situation for universal brotherhood, to build a more caring and united world. They meet to share projects and daily experiences.

Born in 1973 from Chiara Lubich, foundress of the Focolare Movement, the Genfest gathers together: Who? The Youth of the Movement, but not only them. The circle is extended to all those who dream of a more human and just world. You are all invited!

Why? Because every human being, whether they know it or not, is searching for love and unity and can become an agent of change. “Don't do to others what you wouldn't want done to you”: the first step is found in this “Golden Rule,” present in all world religions.

When? From August 31 - September 2, 2012: 3 days of interactive workshop for a united world. How? By changing oneself to change the world and build bridges of brotherhood and unity.

Where? In Budapest, the Hungarian capital. The events will take place throughout the whole city and the main event will be in the Sports Arena. We are expecting over 12,000 young people and 3,000 volunteers are already working for the event.