Secular Franciscan Order

Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

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Survey on the Active Presence of the OFS in the World

National Fraternity of Italy

Project QIQAJON

1. Description of the Project

The Project Qiqajon is a concrete expression of commitment to Christian witnessing within the Secular Franciscan Order. It consists of a residential community of families that responds to the need and desire to be a resource to cope with situations of suffering of children. It is a point of reference for a broad network of families and individuals who are committed to deepen the values ​​of acceptance and sharing.

Resident families and those who give life to the project (staff and volunteers) are active members of the social network that is defined and completed through the encounter with the other. The family environment that is conformed so is aimed at human and professional growth based on values ​​such as trustreciprocityhospitality and solidarity.

The following are the Christian values ​​that are at the basis of the project Qiqajon: listening, sobriety, hospitality, solidarity, humility, kindness, simplicity and perfect joy. Around these values, residing families intend to continually confront themselves, in a sincere and authentic style of sharing.

 

The name "Qiqajon"

Qiqajon comes from the Bible, especially from the book of Jonah. It is the gourd plant (in Hebrew, Qiqajon) that the Lord made grow up "over Jonah’s head, giving shade that relieved him of any discomfort, Jonah was greatly delighted with the plant." (Jon 4:6) We wish that all those who are welcomed into Qiqajon find the same solace that the prophet Jonah found through the gourd plant.

The headquarters

The project is carried out at 17 Via Farini’s facility, in Milan. The building consists of 2 apartments, the seat of the Micro-nest Shoot, a gym, three multipurpose lounges, a chapel and a large garden with a multipurpose area.

The Objectives

TO WELCOME minors and place them in an educational program aimed at overcoming hardships and difficulties.

TO SUPPORT families in their task of educating, through a process of empowering the role of parents with regards to their children.

TO INCREASE awareness, through conversation and sharing, of the power every single person has to cope with daily problems.

TO DEVELOP a network of families and people who are committed to being a resource for children and families in need.

The activities

All activities are free for those who benefit from them since they are an expression of unconditional hospitality.

Every day this facility accommodates the following:

  • The Micro-nest Shoot that hosts 10 children, from 1 to 3 years of age.
  • The Jonah Day Care Center that receives 30 junior high school students, from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm during the school year.
  • The Qiqa Sweet Home that accommodates 15 high school kids (as above).
  • The Summer Recreation Center that hosts 60 children, ages 6 to 14, from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm, including fellowship camps activities in the mountains.
  • Training for families
  • Marriage preparation for young couples
  • Hospitality to parish groups and OFS fraternities
  • Volunteers training sessions
  • Collaboration with other organizations operating in the area

2. A little history

The Qiqajon Project was born from the intuition of Fr. Arcangelo Zucchi and some OFS families of Lombardy who felt in their hearts the desire to put into practice what they had received in their formation and to return to the Lord the goods given them.

It had its origin in 2004 when an appropriate facility was found to implement such a project. It began as a harmonious coexistence of two families wishing to share a way of life based on the Franciscan ideals, putting into practice in a more radical way the OFS Rule they had professed. They focused on studying and understanding the Rule and made themselves available to respond to the social needs existing in the neighborhood where they had moved in. Many other families remained linked to the project by helping and supporting it. Both families left their homes of origin and settled in the new home with their children.

Despite a grave illness suffered by P. Archangel in 2005, which led him to reach the Father’s House in 2010, the seedling Qiqajon has grown to the point of being known in the city, particularly through its welcoming style. Qiqajon has so far intervened in many situations providing help. The families presently residing in Qiqajon have come a long way within the Order, engaging in a discernment process accompanied by a Franciscan friar who is the Assistant to the project. This friar helps to maintain the project’s original spirit which gives comfort through the certainty that the project is in the hands of the Lord. The Assistant also ensures fidelity to the "form of life" that exists within the facility and regulates the life of the community.

The collaboration with the Franciscan friars is solid. The connection with the Poor Clares present in Milan and the participation of the Franciscan Youth make it possible for the whole Franciscan family to be involved in the implementation and proper execution of the project.

3. Coordination of the project

The Qiqajon Project is coordinated by the Regional Fraternity of Lombardy.

4. Impact on Society

The projects listed above have an impact in society through the involvement of both the institutions (the municipality, the region, the schools, etc.) and that of many families and volunteers working in the project. There are many ways of collaborating with other associations in the area to form a network and, most importantly, with the Catholic University of Milan and the State University. Agreements have been signed with both institutions so that students of the faculties with social orientation may realize their internship through the project.

Social workers who run the various activities are in contact with the social workers of the Municipality, the schools attended by the youngsters, and with their families. This triangulation makes of Qiqajon the center and the reference point not only for academic growth, but also, and above all, for human growth. These students often do not find, either in their family or elsewhere, educators who are able to listen to their needs and support them in making decisions about their lives; educators that may help them rediscover healthy ideals and encourage them to overcome the daily difficulties.

5. What we have learned

What we mainly learned is that which we have experienced all along: that Divine Providence exists and that trust in the Lord always brings concrete and unexpected results.

We have woven important relationships that have allowed us to know more and more about the human nature, and above all we have seen that the Lord is doing great things in the middle of the pain and fatigue of many family situations, sometimes dramatic ones.

We feel we are instruments of His work, we do not pretend to change the world, but to be a small light of hope for many. The city of Milan, despite its opulence, hides within itself a great poverty, which is not just economic. Now the crisis adds to these situations and we, in our small way, find ourselves opening our door daily to the needs that knock. To welcome in simplicity, to listen and to use courtesy certainly costs and is hard to do, but the reward that the Lord gives is great and provides solace in the face of fatigue. The gratitude of the people who attend and benefit from the services that offers Qiqajon is our reward, and because we recognize Christ in their faces, we know that this comes from Him.

6. Support Media / Documentation:

Some newspapers have been interested in this experience: The Corriere della Sera, Avvenire, and Famiglia Cristiana are the most well known, other than, of course, Francesco: il Volto Secolare and various bulletin inserts in the OFS regional publications.

In the website http://www.qiqajon.org/ you can view a video explaining the project.

7. Contact person: LUIGI BOZZI

E-mail:                                         luigi.bozzi@ gmail.com

Phone:                                         +39 335.1003092, +39 02.37050725

 

 

 

 

Edited by Attilio Galimberti OFS and Fr Amando Trujillo Cano TOR - July 2013

English translation by Fr. Amando Trujillo Cano TOR