Lodz (Poland). On 11 June 2022, the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Presence of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Poland (1922-2022), took place at the Sports Bay, the Academic Sports and Educational Center of the University of Technology in Lodz, Poland, in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Foundation of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
At the solemn celebration of the jubilee, prepared by the Polish Provinces of Mary Help of Christians (PLA) and Our Lady of Jasna Góra (PLJ) was present the Superior General of the FMA Institute, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, on her first trip abroad since her election, with two Visiting Councilors, Sr. Paola Battagliola and Sr. Lidia Strzelczyk. Flickr PLJ Mother’s Reception
The event was attended, in compliance with safety measures, by about 1,000 people including FMA, members of the Educating Communities and the Salesian Family, benefactors, collaborators and supporters of the works, children and young people, without whom there is no Salesian festivity.
In addition to the Provincials who did the honors, Sr. Anna Szczęsna of the PLA Province and Sr. Maglorzata Pilarska, of the PLJ Province, various Superiors were present of the FMA Provinces and Preprovinces: Sr. Zdeňka Švédová, Provincial of Mary Immaculate Province ( CEL), Sr. Miroslava Tarajová, Vicar of St. John Bosco Province (SLK), Sr. Małgorzata Pietruszczak, Superior Mother of God Preprovince (EEG), Sr. Maria Maul, former Provincial representing the Province of St. Mary D. Mazzarello ( AUG), as well as former Provincials, former SDB Provincials, and missionaries.
There were also the Provincials of the SDB Polish Provinces: Fr. Tadeusz Jarecki (Warsaw – PLE), Fr. Bartłomiej Polański (Breslau – PLO), Fr. Tadeusz Itrych (PLN – Piła), Fr. Zygmunt Kostka (Vicar of the Krakow Province – PLS), the Superior General and the General Councilor of the Congregations of St. Michael the Archangel, several Salesians of Don Bosco, including the Directors of the Communities of Lodz and Warsaw, the President of the Salesian Sports Clubs in Poland, Salesian Cooperators, Past Pupils of the FMA, and other members of the Salesian Family.
After a first moment of festive welcome by the presenters Sr. Iwona Szymanik, FMA, Maciej, and Julia, with the animation of the choir of young people and children of Schola Totus Tuus directed by Sr. Lucyna Gocyła, the flags with the symbols of the two anniversaries, colors and sounds, lights, dances, and the presentation of the FMA presences in Poland and in the world, Mother Chiara Cazzuola was invited to the stage by the two Provincials of Poland.
Two children welcomed her according to Polish tradition, with bread and salt: “bread carries within it the wish for wealth and prosperity, while salt has the power to defend against hostile forces. Dearest Mother, accept our wishes, so that your life may be full of the gifts of God and guarded by his Love”.
Mother replied, “It is a great honor and a great joy for me to be here with you today. I thank the Lord with you for the wonders He has worked in this land in these 100 years. I pray you will continue the journey with enthusiasm, with joy, and with the certainty that Mary accompanies your steps, walks in your land, blesses your works and your communities”.
The Eucharistic Celebration, presided over by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lodz, Msgr. Grzegorz Ryś, was the thanksgiving par excellence. In his homily, the Archbishop presented Mary of Cana as the helper of the Lord Jesus, who from being invited becomes the one who gives in excess, in extraordinary abundance. The profound reading of the Word introduced those present to the Mystery of God’s Providence, in which we collaborate.
Among the gifts brought to the altar during the Offertory, there was the icon of the Centenary created by the FMA of Poland and Ukraine together with the young people of the two countries, which represents the people of the Exodus, Abraham and Sarah. A special gift from the participants in the Celebration for the 100th anniversary, consisted in a collection of funds for Ukraine and other lands where conflicts are ongoing, then made available to Mother and the General Council, to support the needs in various parts of the world. Communion was followed by a solemn moment of renewal of religious vows by the FMA gathered in front of the altar. Flickr PLJ Eucharistic Celebration
In the afternoon, the show ‘Let’s Go Together’ was presented, a performance in three acts written and directed by Sr. Maria Grażul, FMA and interpreted by children, young people, parents, Past pupils, collaborators, and FMA of the Houses of Rumia, Warsaw, and Łomianki.
With lights, sounds, videos, choreographies, dances, songs, and gestures, the show highlighted the meaning of the Salesian mission: to save young people from evil, to give life. The audience was able to observe how the Holy Spirit, Mary Help of Christians, Mary Domenica Mazzarello, and Mother Laura Meozzi walk with the FMA and the people of Poland through the storms of history and personal vicissitudes, towards good, peace, a dignified and happy life. Flickr PLJ Entertainment
At the end, a series of guests, Provincials and others, brought their words of gratitude, congratulations, and good wishes to the Polish Provinces. The moment was opened by Mother Chiara Cazzuola, who reread in the two important anniversaries: the 100th anniversary of the presence in Poland and the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the FMA Institute, the great opportunity to pause before history and recognize that we have a heritage we are responsible for. To preserve it, it must be continually renewed so that it is a response to the new educational solicitations.
“What we are living is a reminder for everyone to the responsibility of preserving and developing the charism. Each of us is personally responsible for its vitality. (…)
In a culture in which the very sources of life, of the person, of the family are threatened, the charism becomes more and more relevant. In a world often divided and animated by the logic of competition, in contact with families marked by conflict and hardship, we can all be a prophetic sign, an appeal to educational responsibility, a witness to that project of communion to which every person is called, support in times of difficulty.
To make the charism live and revive, it takes the ability to look ahead with the awareness that what Don Bosco said is still valid today: ‘Being in many together increases joy, it serves as an encouragement to endure fatigue … one communicates to the other their knowledge, their ideas and so one learns from the other. The fact that there are many who do good animates us without realizing it‘ (Don Bosco in MB VII 602)”.
Mother Chiara ended her talk by thanking, on behalf of the Institute, for all the good that the Polish Provinces are doing, also to welcome and support refugees from Ukraine.
The event, permeated by a Salesian atmosphere of joy and spontaneity, made all the participants feel ‘at home’ and ended with the blessing of Mary Help of Christians given by the Provincial of the PLE Province, Fr. Tadeusz Jarecki, along with all the priests present.