Mornese (Italy). On 5 August 2022 in Mornese, the Superior General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Chiara Cazzuola and some Councilors were present at the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the FMA Institute. “Today, with the heart in Mornese, from every community in the world, from sunrise to sunset, a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God is raised for the wonders He has worked in the history and in the life of each of us”, affirmed Mother Chiara in the nel Video-messagge addressed to all the Educating Communities of the world.
On the evening of 4 August 2022, a Prayer Vigil prepared by Sr. Eliane Petri and the FMA of Mother of the Church Preprovince (RMC), from the Mornese Collegio, the place where the first Chapel of the Institute stood and where the first 11 FMA made their religious profession, prepared hearts and spirits for the Jubilee celebrations. The Vigil opened with the words taken from the Chronicle of the Institute, which Don Bosco addressed to the first FMA on that day, “words of life, of future, of grace” still today for all the FMA.
The evocative setting, full of symbols and words dear to the Institute, helped to enter into the climate of prayer and to relive the intense moments of the beginnings together. Next to the well, a brick wall was created with the names of the first sisters, “Don Bosco offered two monuments to Mary Help of Christians: a monument-temple and a living monument of consecrated women”. As a first gesture, each FMA was invited to place the brick with her name at the foot of the wall, a sign of her commitment to live with renewed radicalism and belonging to her own identity as a “monument of gratitude” to Mary Help of Christians.
The special entrustment to Mary for the 150th anniversary was followed by a Marian gesture with which each one placed a key on the edge of the well, in memory of Mother Mazzarello’s exhortation to hold the key of her heart in her hand, to offer it to Mary Help of Christians on her feast, “Let us hand over the key of our heart to Mary so that she can help us free it from all that can exhaust the sources of true love and make it available to let herself be inhabited by the Word that saves and renews”.
The story of the Borgoalto vision preceded the significant moment of the Renewal of Religious Profession proclaimed “in communion with all the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, welcoming the mandate made to Mary Domenica Mazzarello, ‘I entrust them to you'”.
The Vigil ended with the prayer for the 150th anniversary composed by Mother Chiara Cazzuola and with her words, addressed to the approximately 70 FMA present who participated in the Spiritual Exercises of the Preprovince RMC, to the Community of Mornese, to the relatives of the Professed Sisters, to the priests, and to the lay people present:
“This Vigil makes us feel we are inside the heart of the history of our Institute. (…) Our story began here; it is in our hands, so tonight we can ask the Lord in a particular way for the gift of fidelity, as in the request that Pope Francis made to us when he visited us during the Chapter. He recommended that we not forget the humility and littleness of the origins. We heard Don Bosco, his homily: only 11 girls, in this small town… Looking at your faces, we realize how this littleness, this humility has been truly generative of life… and continues to generate it. Now I would like to remember all the FMA in the world, especially those who are suffering, who at this moment may not even be able to meet to celebrate together. Let us bring these Communities and Provinces of ours into our prayers. (…)
Last night, this courtyard was overflowing with young people. Tonight, we have with us the ambassador of Timor, relatives, priests, and lay people. This reminds us that there are many other people linked to our life, the Educating Communities, our families, all the young people we know and those that we do not know, but are within our prayer, our offering, and our sacrifice. Remember that being an FMA means being presence”.
In the long-awaited morning of 5 August 2022, the anniversary of the Foundation of the Institute, in the Sanctuary dedicated to St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello, four Daughters of Mary Help of Christians from East Timor, China, and the Middle East, representing the whole world, in the wake of generations of FMA who in 150 years of history responded to the Lord in total self-giving, celebrated their definitive ‘Yes’, making their Perpetual Profession, a public and ecclesial act.
The Eucharistic Celebration was presided over by Fr. Stefano Martoglio, Vicar General of the Congregation of the Salesians of Don Bosco, who expressed the joy of participating in an event of fidelity of the Lord and the Sisters on such a significant historical date for the FMA Institute. “The first grace we ask for ourselves and for them, is to be deeply in love with God,” referring to the reading from the Song of Songs. “The truest expression of our self-giving to the Lord is our humanity, which communicates the presence of God. ‘Rejoice always’ (1Tes 5: 16-24), says St. Paul.”
Commenting on the Gospel passage, he underlines, “At the wedding at Cana wine is lacking, joy is lacking. Mary notices this and makes it known when something breaks. She calls the servants and says, ‘Do whatever he tells you’. Mary’s intercession produces miracles.” In concluding, he wishes each one to, “Transform the jars of your life into full and endless joy. Give yourself to God, and He who is your peace, your serenity, will transform your suffering, your life, and through you, the life of many people. This is the sign of being consecrated, given”.
After the Rite of Religious Profession that publicly concretized the candidate’s desire to give herself completely to the Lord to serve the young according to the project of St. John Bosco and of St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello, uniting her life forever to the sacrifice of Christ, each one receives the symbol chosen: the crown of flowers, the lighted lamp, the rosary beads.
At the end of the celebration and the words of gratitude of the newly Perpetually Professed Sisters, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, in the name of the Institute, thanked the Rector Major, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, present through his Vicar, the concelebrants, the families, and all who accompanied them on their journey, remembering together with them, the many Sisters who on the same day in all parts of the world, celebrated First Professions, Perpetual Professions, and other anniversaries of consecration to the Lord.
In the evening, the feast cannot be missing, with a reminiscent moment through the sources of the 150 years of history of the Institute: the inspiration of Don Bosco and Mary Domenica Mazzarello to take care of the poorest and most disadvantaged girls, the birth of the workroom, the steps of the Foundation, the first missionary expedition that marks expansion, a path of holiness that continues with each FMA called to relaunch the vocational culture with her own witness.
The Vicar General, Fr. Stefano Martoglio, concludes with a thought: “Recounting the history of the Institute’s 150 years is telling a story of the salvation wrought by God, a family story. It is the story of your salvation, of your origins, in which the Lord asks you to participate and which makes you proud to be part of this family. Celebrating 150 years means calling the good by name in the presence of God, recognizing the lymph that flows within you. If you don’t look with the eyes of God, you cannot understand a 150th. Mary Domenica Mazzarello, her companions, the Institute, are God’s answer to help Don Bosco, ‘I entrust them to you’. The fidelity that God asks today comes through a question, ‘Are you happy with what you are?’ It is the impulse that sends you to others”.
Mother Chiara, referring to his words, continues, “Are you content? Are you cheerful? It is a question that Mother Mazzarello often asked. Therefore, let us make the commitment Fr. Stefano gave us to often ask ourselves this question that sustains us.” Mother then thanked Sister Maria Ko and Sister Eliane Petri for the publication that came out on the occasion of the 150th entitled “Like leaven in bread. The Word of God in Mary Domenica Mazzarello” and ended by saying: “We cannot help but remember these 150 years and start from here again. The Institute has responded strongly to this call. In the 5 continents, it has really prepared itself for this 150th anniversary and we cannot let the fire go out. As Mother Mazzarello said, ‘we must rekindle the fire’, put on new wood. Now we must look to the future, to how to live with fidelity and intensity the calls that the Lord still makes to us and the challenges of today. We do it together, in prayer, in discernment, in encouragement. Best wishes for a good continuation of the journey, which is still fertile and still bears fruit for many young people, many children who need us”.