Bogotá (Colombia). On 26 April 2023, at Mary Help of Christians School in Bogotá in Colombia, Province of Our Lady of the Snow (CBN), the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the Educating Communities from all over the world gathered around the Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, to celebrate the World Feast of Gratitude on the theme: “With Mary we generate a culture of peace”.
Present at the celebrations were Sr. Marta Riccioli, Visitor General; the Provincials of CINAB: Sr. Cecilia Camacho (CBN), Sr. Edith Franco (CBC), Sr. Sara Sierra (CMM), Sr. Bertha Celmira Serna (CMA), Sr. Elsy Núñez Espinoza (PER), Sr. María Eugenia Ramos (VEN), Sr. Cruz María Piña (ECU), as well as numerous FMA from the various Bolivarian nations, members of Salesian Family Groups, and of all the Educating and Pastoral Communities of the FMA realities in Colombia.
On the eve of the Feast, with Vespers on April 25 in the theater hall of Mary Help of Christians School, Mother experienced a show of lights, colors, and music which led us to reflect on the Beatitude “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt 5:9). This moment inspired a fraternal meeting between the four FMA provinces in Colombia and the Salesian Family. Once again, the richness of this land was shown, the desire, and the educational work to create a culture of peace, an invitation accepted by the Provinces of the whole world, and aired the Gestures of Peace sent to the Feast web page (Video).
April 26, the Day of Gratitude for the fruitfulness and generativity of the FMA Institute and for the life, mission, and service of animation of Mother Chiara Cazzuola, began in a profound atmosphere of joy. With the prayer of Lauds in which, through the elements of the logo, sought to express the commitment of all the FMA of the world to be generators of peace in the places where the mission is carried out daily. Dance, song, and prayer rose in a single dynamism for peace in each of the continents, giving this moment a strong sense of the universality and communion of the Institute. (Video)
Subsequently, Mother went to the Primary Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Bogotá for the Eucharistic Celebration, presided over by the Provincial of the St. Peter Claver Province (COB) of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Fr. Jhon Jairo Gómez Rúa, concelebrated by 27 priests, including Msgr. Héctor López, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Girardot.
In his homily, Fr. Jhon Jairo addressed Mother Chiara with these heartfelt words: “Thank you, Mother Chiara, for being a sign of God’s goodness and love for humanity, especially within our beloved Salesian Family. Thank you for having made Christ present with your testimony, for having presented us with a figure of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello so simple and easy to imitate and understand with the gift of your person. Your kind and universal smile, your fruitful motherhood accompanies and makes the path of following Jesus easier. Your generous dedication to the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, makes visible the love of the Mother who generates life and accompanies with love. It is your gestures of goodness that make possible peace around you, that present you without words, as a woman of God, as a sower of peace.”
This solemn thanksgiving was raised to God to the rhythm of Colombian folklore, with which the FMA, the girls, the young people, the members of the Salesian Family and the laity fervently expressed their gratitude to Mother Chiara, joining the entire Institute in recognizing her joyful and generous dedication to the mission entrusted to her. (Video)
In the afternoon, Mother took part in the Youth Festival “From Colombia to the world, let’s paint life with peace and hope.” It was an evocative show created in synodality between young people, lay people, and the FMA with an explosion of rhythms, colors, landscapes, and folklore that reflect the identity of an educational style that generates a culture of peace. It was an expression of gratitude for the vitality of the Salesian charism in Colombia, which in these 125 years has responded to the needs and expectations of thousands of young people and to the emerging situations that are experienced in various regions of the Country. The various moments and performances were transformed into thanksgiving to Mother Chiara Cazzuola who, with her presence, her words, and her gestures, filled Salesian Colombia with hope, becoming a sign of charismatic renewal for the four Provinces.
The event began with the anthem of the Festival – Territory of peace – masterfully interpreted by the authors, Sr. Laura Vanegas, FMA, and María José Mendoza, and with the parade of flags representing the 98 Nations in the 5 continents where the FMA are present.
The evening concluded with a Goodnight from Mother, who invited all the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians to live the family spirit, to be happy FMA, and vocational communities, capable of showing the world the joy of following Jesus like Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello. She ended by thanking the children, young people, and all who collaborated. She said:
“I truly felt at the center of the Feast, but I would like to share these thanks with all the Sisters of the General Council who are scattered throughout the world at this moment. And after the Feast, life goes on. We know, however, that it was not a parenthesis, but a very beautiful fundamental meeting. We can continue our journey in the awareness and joy of being a large family and the experience of affection and sharing of the educational experience of these days will certainly remain as a light on our journey and will help us.”
As a final gesture, Sr. Cecilia Camacho, on behalf of the Colombian Provinces, gave her a “Silver Orchid”, as a sign to make visible all the spiritual experience and fraternity lived in the visit to this country and with the World Feast of Gratitude. (Video)
Photos: Flickr FMA