Madre Marinella Castagno (1984-1996)
Mother Marinella Castagno
Mother Marinella Castagno was called to be a member of the general council in
1973. She performed the canonical visits in various provinces. From 1975 until
1984 she was responsible for youth ministry, a role which gave her an insight
into the different educational and pastoral situations in the Institute. In
XVIII General Chapter she was elected as the Superior General and confirmed in
this service by XIX General Chapter.
In a time of rapid and far-reaching changes involving all the nations and
touching persons, families and institutions, both the Church and the Institute
were committed to a more decisive work of 'new evangelisation'.
The Synods of Bishops in 1985 and 1987, in which she took part, and the various
pontifical documents had a particular impact on the life of the Institute. It
strove with renewed commitment to put into practice the teachings of the
Council, to collaborate with the laity in the new evangelisation and to
rediscover consecrated life and its mission within the Church and the world.
Eastern Europe's move to democracy (1989) opened up new and unexpected horizons
for the FMA, too, in evangelisation and the education of youth. This allowed
many Salesian educators to operate in countries where religious life had
hitherto been clandestine and where for many years youth had been deprived of a
cultural and Christian formation consistent with the needs of the times.
An enhanced feminine self-awareness among the FMA made them more daring
especially regarding the promotion of a culture of life and reciprocity.
Alongside an increasing desire for interior life, the commitment to respond to
the expectations of the poorest girls and young women was very strong and the
efforts at inculturation gave rise to new works on behalf of children at risk.
The necessity of preparing personnel in the field of social communications
became obvious at all levels. So, through the department for mass media that
was purposely set up, a whole network of formative and practical initiatives
came into being to enable the FMA not only to understand the new languages but
also to create culture in this area.
Some significant events stood out during these years: the centenary of the
death of Don Bosco and the beatification of Laura Vicuña (1988); the
beatification of Fr. Philip Rinaldi (1990) and of Mother Maddalena Morano
(1994). In her twelve years as Superior General, Mother Marinella directed the
Institute with wisdom, simplicity and motherliness, with a sharp perception of
the pressing needs of the times and an insightful search for the best ways to
respond to them, keeping far-sighted perspectives in mind.