Mornese (Italy). On the 150th anniversary of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (1872-2022), Mother, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola and the General Council, at the conclusion of the Spiritual Exercises lived from 15 to 22 June 2022 at the College of Mornese (AL) , in the Piedmontese Province of Mary Help of Christians (IPI), renewed their commitment of fidelity to the call of the Lord during the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Fr. Gianni Rigo, Salesian of Don Bosco, in the Parish of St. Silvester of Mornese, which at that moment embraced all the FMA in the world.
Mother placed on the altar the formula of Profession written in several hands, an expression of unity in diversity, the desire to make all the Sisters present in the place of origin of the Institute, who today live the mission with a diversity of nuances throughout the world. After renewing the baptismal promises around the baptistery that made Maìn a daughter of God, Mother Chiara and the Councilors chorally proclaimed the formula of Profession before the altar and then each of them signed the manuscript.
The experience of the Spiritual Exercises was a dive into the depths of the Mornese spirit, thanks to the competent and enthusiastic reflection of Sr. Piera Cavaglià, Secretary General emeritus, who with the theme “With Mary Mazzarello I will play for you on the 10-stringed harp” (Psalm 143: 9), made hearts vibrate, realistically recalling the atmosphere that animated the first FMA communities.
The Spiritual Exercises were inserted in a frame of fraternity, thanks to various encounters with the FMA Communities during the round trips: the affectionate and very warm welcome of Mary Help of Christians Community of La Spezia and of Mary Help of Christians Community of Pisa, of Our Lady of the Cenacle Province (ILS).
The Novices of the Salesian Novitiate of Colle Don Bosco (AT), on retreat for a few days in Mornese at the Mazzarelli House, on the evening of 17 June went to the Collegio to pray the Holy Rosary together with the General Council and ended with the Goodnight of Mother in the room of Mother Mazzarello.
On the morning of 18 June, in the presence of the Mayor of Mornese, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, and various people, the plaque was uncovered naming an area of the garden of the Collegio for Fr. Domenico Pestarino, remembered for his tireless work, not only for the nascent Institute of the FMA, but for the whole town, as a ‘pastor’ and as a municipal councilor.
In the evening, Mother and the Councilors participated in an artistic presentation in which words and music were well harmonized, favoring a climate of reflection and prayer: “Mornese lights up …”, the concert of the San Bernardo Choir of the Parish of Saints Martino and Gaudenzio of Novara, directed by Maria Dina Bertotti. It was a very welcome tribute to the Institute on the occasion of the 150th year of the Foundation, “dedicated to Mother Mazzarello and, in her, to all the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians who every day, with courage and passion, choose to retrace her footsteps, to live the charism, to be traveling companions in the life of many”.
The final evening of the Exercises was lived in joy with the community of St. Mary D. Mazzarello of Mornese, with simplicity and a sense of gratitude. For the occasion, the Animator, Sr. Maria Vanda Penna, expressed her joy at having received from Pope Francis a parchment with the blessing on the Community, in the 150th year of the foundation of the FMA Institute.
After greeting the Community of Mornese, Mother and the Councilors went to Nizza Monferrato to share with the Community of St. Mary D. Mazzarello the prayer of Vespers, dinner, and of course, a time of fraternity. Each of them signed at the bottom of the message that Mother Chiara left on the visitor’s register, to express the deep bond with the places that Mother Mazzarello defined as follows, “Our Lady’s house is beautiful, the church is splendid, and the people of the town are very benevolent” (Cronistoria Vol. 2, p. 350).
Significant, even if brief, is the stop at Colle Don Bosco on the morning of 23 June for the Eucharistic celebration celebrated by Fr. Gianni Rolandi, SDB, Director of the Community, in the little church of Mary Help of Christians. In the afternoon, another beautiful moment of fraternity and sharing was experienced in Valdocco, Turin, in the encounter with the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, and his Council.
On 24 June, Mother and the Councilors, after having again entrusted the entire FMA Institute to Mary Help of Christians, left the Basilica and embarked on the return journey, grateful to the Lord for the abundant gifts of grace received and for the beautiful experiences of fraternity lived in the Salesian and Mornese spirit.