Mornese (Italy). On 22 and 23 September 2022, the first Assembly of the Middle East-Europe Interprovincial Conference (CIME) for the year 2022-23 was held at the Collegio of Mornese, on the theme “Towards a new formative style”.
The Provincials and the Superiors of Preprovinces of Europe and the Middle East, after having lived from 14 to 21 September, the Spiritual Exercises preached by Fr. Albino Linty-Blanchet, Director of the Priory of Saint Pierre (Aosta), with the presence of the Mother General of The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, were joined by the head of the CIME Conference, the Vicar General, Sr. María del Rosario García Ribas, and by various FMA who carry out a service in the field of formation in Europe. Present were, in fact, Collaborators from the General Sector for Formation, responsible for the Period of Assessment and Guidance (PAG) and the Postulancy, Novice Formators in office and emeritus, Formation Councilors, with the aim of reflecting on the paths proposed in the Initial Formation Journey and find new ways for a more effective formation for today’s times.
Taking up a quote from the liturgy of the day, “Teach us to count our days and we will acquire a wise heart … May the favor of the Lord our God be ours. Prosper the work of our hands!” (Ps 90), Mother Chiara Cazzuola introduced the CIME Assembly, inviting the FMA present to reread and renew every day the motivations that support service in the formation sphere, remembering that the true protagonist is the Holy Spirit.
After a dynamic of acquaintance with which all presented themselves, expressing a positive and a critical aspect of the young people in formation, the morning of 22 September was dedicated to re-reading, proposed by Sr. Charlotte Bizige and Sr. Elena Massimi, Collaborators of the Formation Sector, of the answers received through the questionnaire submitted in June 2022 to the young women of the PAG, the Postulants, the Novices, the Temporary Professed, and their Formators, bringing out the characteristics of the young women in formation today.
In the afternoon, Fr. Michal Vojtáŝ, Salesian of Don Bosco, Deputy Director of the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS) and Professor of Salesian History and Pedagogy of the Faculty of Educational Sciences, in an online connection presented through some general data, the traits characteristic of young Europeans: how they perceive themselves, how adults perceive them, what expectations they have towards the future, how they experience the present, what attitudes they have towards religion, etc. Reflections emerged that helped the participants grasp how situations change from context to context, and to understand that everything must be reread in the light of the historical and cultural events of each country.
Enriched by these suggestions, with personal and then group work, the participants studied different formation models, to identify the formation model suitable for the current time.
The first day ended with Good Night of Mother Chiara who proposed a reflection starting with the reading of Mother Mazzarello’s Letter 66 to the missionary Sr. Ernesta Farina, destined for the Buenos Aires, Boca House, in Argentina.
September 23 was dedicated to the presentation by Sr. Charlotte and Sr. Elena of a synthesis of the principles that govern the experience of initial formation in the light of the ecclesial Magisterium and the Magisterium of the FMA Institute, in the contemporary context. The discussion that followed, first in the group and then in the assembly, was very lively and participatory.
This first assembly meeting of the CIME was characterized by a strong experience in synodality of listening to reality, of dialogue and comparison, of welcoming diversity, of knowledge and sharing of the problems that all the Provinces and Preprovinces live, with different nuances depending on the contexts. The reflections aroused many questions and suggested other avenues of research.
At the end of the work, Mother Chiara thanked the Conference for the good idea of working together on the theme of Formation, and encouraged the participants to continue in the research process activated, expressing support for the FMA who directly and daily take on the formative tasks entrusted to them, making them feel united and in solidarity.