Economy of Communion: Operation 1-2-5

Economy of Communion: Operation 1-2-5

By Gennaro and Lucia Piccolo/

An original project by a couple in Southern Italy plants a seed of communion for many, even as far as away as up north in Trent. “Small is beautiful,” you might say.

Gennaro e Lucia Piccolo-aIt began in April 2013. My wife Lucia and I were taking a walk when we noticed a five-cent coin on the ground. We were a bit embarrassed to pick it up. Then, walking along another stretch of the street, a man was tactfully asking those passing by for help. He held a five-cent piece in his hand, as if to say that he would be happy with even that. We’re not sure how best to say this, but let’s just say we felt ourselves blush.

Some days later, thinking about what had happened, we felt an inspiring spark emerge – to start a project in our small circle. We decided to call it “Operation 1-2-5 in Freedom.” The idea is to freely consider the one-, two- or five-cent coins we get during our daily shopping as change, then invest it as a gesture of fraternity to alleviate situations of poverty locally and in poor countries abroad.

The operation had come from an undeniable need to love. We received proof of this when we timidly brought the first 150 one-cent coins, 36 two-cent coins and 64 five-cent coins to the owner of a supermarket. Curious, he asked where they came from, and we explained it to him, asking whether he too would like to do something as well to meet the needs of the poor. From that day on, Antonio began to give something on top of whatever coins we brought him.

Encouraged by his gesture, and beyond our families and at our condominium, we started to speak about it to even more friends of ours. The project went on to involve a number of families in Andria and then went beyond our borders: Lecce, Bari, Brindisi, Santa Maria a Vico, Naples, Rome, Spinazzola, Trani, Corato, Barletta Bolzano, Varese and Trent!

This tangible good of collecting coins also brought something beautiful with it. Handing over the coins inspired many to wrap them: coins were collected in a tiny bag of white tulle, elegant envelopes and with flowers. We’ve even heard that this started happening in schools and between colleagues at work.

Close to four years after the start of the operation, the collected coins now total $5,225 euros, all of which have been donated. Humanly speaking, a few cents might seem insignificant. But we feel that there’s something sacred about them, because they stimulate us to love others. They also recall a number of Gospel passages: the widow’s offering, the five loaves and two fishes, the few crumbs that the Canaanite woman begged Jesus for.

It seems to us that little by little these ones, twos and fives, beyond any final figure, might contribute to increasing communion between people, placing talents and abilities in communion.

Speaking of communion, it deeply touched us how, at the beginning of the project we uncovered, in an old notebook from 1991, something from our focolarino friend and sociologist Professor Tommaso Sorgi. Speaking about the Economy of Communion, he put it in these words:

“The concept of communion is something deeper than the concept of solidarity. Communion brings it to life, illuminates it, puts it in motion and makes it possible. If this communion of souls is not a part of it, communion in the economy will never happen.”

To sum up, we feel a special joy. Today Operation 1-2-5 in Freedom – which the Centro Igino Giordani in Andria has adopted – is more than ever motivated by love. That love that is like a tiny ray of light passing through a prism that refracts in the colors of the rainbow. In the same way, Operation 1-2-5 does this with the colors of fraternity and communion.

Sat, 07/29/2017 - 12:51
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