Mother Antonia Colombo at Catania at the Centenary of the death of Blessed Maddalena Morano

Mother Antonia Colombo at Catania at the Centenary of the death of Blessed Maddalena Morano “Together … as a sign of hope”. These words were like an electric current that ran through the various moments of the Sicilian Centenary of the death of Blessed Maddalena Morano. They dealt with a charismatic patrimony that is ever more real because from 1881 to today it has had as its criteria the discernment of the signs of the times, the passion for Christ and young people.
There were three particular places where the events occurred: The Institute of Mary Help of Christians, headquarters of the Sicilian Province where a regional- historical-social-educational seminar on the theme “From the patrimony of Maddalena Morano to the new educational challenges in Sicily” was held in the theater hall dedicated to Mother Morano; the Sanctuary of Mary Most Holy of the Help where on March 30th the building that welcomed the first Sisters is located; and the theater of the Province La Ciminiere” that saw thegathering of the Salesian Family groups, ecclesiastical and civil authorities who participated in the cultural manifestation with intervals of a few messages, among which the was that of the Superior General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Antonia Colombo who addressed these words to the assembly:

“With you, we are together...as a sign of hope for the young people.” These were the opening words of her message. It was a presence that witnessed to “a parable of communion.”
The Superior General focused on “the art of building bridges of hope in the line of evangelical and charismatic experience”, that vital nucleus that made Blessed Maddalena Morano a wise, skillful consecrated woman.
Mother Antonia thus recalled her, commenting on a few main points of Maddalena Morano: courage in taking a chance on Jesus; nothing without love; charity with all, cordiality, spirit of union.
“We dare to take a chance on Jesus”, said Mother Antonia, “because it is He, who first trusted in us and came toward us.” “Christ”, she continued, “is the bridge on which our existence can find meaning. On the other side of the bridge there is not the unknown that could frighten us, but a Father who is ready to welcome us. With Jesus we can cross the bridge of insecurity, of solitude, of fragility, and ordinary meanness and always begin with the certainty that our life will not fall into emptiness, but will be taken in by Someone who guards it with love at every instant.”

“When one has Someone for whom to exist”, added the Superior General, “daily life becomes an opportunity to live here and now with the intensity of love. The only possibility that it offers us is to look trustingly toward the future. We are part of a great dream fraught with the future. We can give it to others simply because we believe, and because we are visible in the present moment through little gestures that testify to a great love.
This is what Maddalena Morano did and recommended to others. For her, living with love meant going straight to the essential, looking neither left nor right. Having a why for existence made comprehensible and acceptable almost like all the hows.”
“The spirit of charity, cordiality and union of which Maddalena Morano spoke”, recalled Mother Antonia, “today is called ‘the spirituality of communion’. As the Salesian Family, each member is committed to build bridges of communion and dialogue, to give trust, to give hospitality to others in our life, to listen to them profoundly not only in what they say, but also in what they do not say, overcoming prejudices and barriers that keep us from understanding and welcoming them. It means looking at them from God’s point of view, communicating to them this message: ‘You are important because you are loved by God’. Mother Morano transmitted it with her work of evangelization and education, with her whole life.

In a society that is frequently characterized by competition, the spirit of communion, renders it more human and evangelical, and is guided toward uniting forces in the educational mission which Don Bosco considered to be ‘the greatest undertaking’. As the Salesian Family, as the educating community”, continued Mother Antonia, “we are a great force of communion, a bridge over which many young people and many families can pass and find the courage and the joy of living, of collaborating in a respectful social living together for all.
But what hope could be offered by a woman who came from the continent without knowing the reality in which she was to work?Maddalena Morano had not studied how to inculturate the Salesian charism, she did not know the Sicilian language but she possessed the language of the heart that all could understand. Before her, wariness fell away, prejudice lost its strength, the positive was empowered. The hope that she offered was that which she herself lived: a heart inhabited by God’s presence that knew how to be a sign and expression of His all-foreseeing love...even in the most difficult situation where others would have drawn back.
In this way she prepared souls to accept the present as a grace and opportunity for commitment to transform it.”

Mother Antonia’s words reached straight into the hearts of the packed, silent, and thoughtful crowd. The comments of some of the Sisters and laity present forcefully emphasized the last part of the Superior General’s message: “Following the wake of Don Bosco, Maddalena Morano used every means at her disposition to promote the rights of the poor, of the young people, and in particular, those of the woman. Through her work of evangelization and the educational institutions that she founded, she made others protagonists for a different future...a future alive with hope.”
“The invitation-appeal of Mother Antonia to the Salesian Family and to the educating community that share the Preventive System, a system of love centered in Jesus and in the inalienable value of the human person, was that of offering‘great hope to the young people in a time of educational emergency. However, it is necessary that together, in the Church, in networking with the educational institutions of the territory, we have in ourheart the hope that we want to communicate.”
And it is precisely name of the place, Le Ciminiere where the manifestation took place, that becomes a symbolic image. “The ciminiere (smokestacks)” concluded Mother Antonia, “are, in fact, vents that indicate the presence of fire. Our mission as educators who share the Salesian spirituality, will be efficacious if, like Maddalena Morano, we will be sign and witnesses of the fire that burns in our hearts, of the passion of the da mihi animas cetera tolle that nourishes hope and a greater love.”

Visit the website of the province "Madre Maddalena Morano"

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