News about the last part of Gen Verde’s U.S. Tour: California.
We left Chicago as the snow came down, with our hearts full of joy, ready to travel 2,000 miles to Los Angeles. At the airport, the Vincentian and Focolare communities were waiting for us with a warm welcome. Thus began our twelve days in California, in which we held concerts, workshops, sung Masses and meetings in four different cities.
Our first commitment was a meeting with students of Mount St. Mary’s University, organized by the campus ministry. During the program we were able to share some of our personal stories, which touched the students deeply.
From there we began a series of events in one of the largest and most iconic parishes of LA: St. Vincent de Paul’s. The concert was amazing and in the audience’s reaction there was all the warmth that California is known for.
Among the wonderful impressions we received was this one, from a couple who came to see Gen Verde for the first time: “As we listened to you, through your presence and music, we felt such a strong energy that had a healing effect. After this meeting we felt like we were on a deeper spiritual plane and wanted to stay there. It was really transformative for us!”.
Planada is a small rural town of about 5,000 people, with a majority of the population being migrant workers. Last winter it was devastated by flooding and many people lost everything. As we see so often, those who have nothing, share everything. As soon as we arrived, we met the local community and had a fantastic evening: tacos, quesadillas and lots of talk and laughter!
100 young people (the maximum number that space could permit) signed up for the performing arts workshops. At first many young people were of shy and didn’t know what to exprect. But after the two days of workshops, at the final performance for their parents, they arrived in their best outfits and were full of enthusiasm.
In one of the workshops, a girl asked to say something to introduce her group: “With this workshop we learned not to let the world change our smiles, but that with our smile we can change the world!”.
We left a piece of our hearts in Planada and are already planning to come back with our Start Now Workshop Project.
This was a special experience as well. The whole thing was organized by the Focolare community of the Bay Area. At the concert it was an enormous joy to see the auditorium full! Five minutes before the concert began they needed to put out extra chairs for all those who hadn’t booked. And from the start the hall was buzzing! With community members who had travelled many hours by car to come, and new friends who saw the poster in their parishes.
Our last, but not least, event was a performance, followed by a reception, in the beautiful setting of the Merrill Gardens at Campbell Senior Living Residence (San Jose), where Nancy Uelmen’s (Gen Verde singer and songwriter) parents live.
The hall was full, and people arrived and were seated well before the event. One woman said: “We were crying because we saw that all of you are happy, with that real happiness, and we asked ourselves: why can’t we live like them?”. For us it was an unforgettable moment.
Like all good stories, this one too will continue!
And so, we have come to the end of our fantastic tour in the United States… in 2 months we travelled over 15,000 miles, visiting 10 cities, with a jam-packed program including animating a 3-day conference, 9 concerts, 16 sung Masses, 5 workshop programs with youth and adults, 3 choral workshops, as well as countless performances and meetings with different local communities.
Looking back, we think we need time and distance to reflect adequately about these past two months. However, the first thing that comes to mind is gratitude. Great gratitude to all those who worked so hard to make this tour happen and happen the way it did… and great gratitude to God for the graces of these two months.
One thing seems certain: we will be back soon!
Click here to read all about the first week of our U.S. Tour, in New York.
Click here to read all about our steps of the tour in Philadelphia and Atlanta.
Click here to read all about our weeks in Texas.
Click here to read all about our days in Chicago.