Tam Ha (Vietnam). On 31 December 2021 and 1 January 2022 in Tam Ha, at the headquarters of Mary Help of Christians Province (VTN), the annual meeting of young women in formation and girls in vocational search took place, organized by the Formation Team of the Province.
Present at the meeting were the Provincial, Sr. Maria Hoang Thi Thu Ha, the Animators of the Communities, the FMA of the Provincial Formation Team, some FMA, the Novices, Postulants, the young women of the Period of Assessment and Guidance, the pre-aspirants, and some girls. The FMA communities of the Province participated in the event through a multimedia and social platform.
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Foundation of the FMA Institute (1872-2022), in the current context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the invitation to take on the ecological commitment, the topic explored in the meeting, “Faith, Charity, Hope, and Solidarity” had the aim of cultivating and making these theological virtues shine in young women who are entering the religious life, in solidarity with their brothers and sisters.
After the Salesian welcome, the Provincial introduced the days, inviting the participants to open their hearts to the messages and values that would be shared. In the evening, there was a performance of Marian songs entitled “Mary, my Mother”, performed by the young people in small groups, as a sign of affection for Mary. The last day of 2021 ended with a moment of prayer on the theme, “The living monument of yesterday and today”, in which FMA and young people experienced the holiness of the Charism of the FMA Institute, a living monument of the gratitude of Don Bosco to Mary Help of Christians.
On 1 January 2022, the day opened with the celebration of the Holy Mass on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the prayer for peace. The young participants expressed their joyful wishes to the Provincial, to the Animators, and to all the FMA. Sr. Maria wished everyone “to have God with her in this year 2022, to say good words to help others get up and get back full of life, to enrich themselves with spiritual goods, and to know how to share them with others. “She also spoke of Mary, the initiator of our Institute, in order to go in-depth in our Marian identity”.
Then, Sr. Anna Thanh Huyen shared a reflection on issues related to the environment, inviting the young women to become more aware of the care of the common home. After listening to the presentation, they participated in a game on the environment, conducted by the FMA of the organizing Team via a multimedia platform, to better internalize the contents.
The theme of the meeting was further explored through the words of three young witnesses who during the most critical moments of the Covid-19 pandemic in Vietnam lived their faith in God concretely and helped others with Christian charity. To reflect what they heard in daily experience, the FMA of the team presented various community projects with practical ideas to educate the young people and to contribute to the safeguarding of the Common Home.
The two-day meeting concluded with the words of Sr. Teresa Doan Trang, Head of Formation, who helped the participants to summarize the contributions received in order to apply them in their own lives. The young formandees and the girls expressed their gratitude for what they lived. This is how the Novices express themselves:
“The theme ‘Faith – Love – Hope – Solidarity’ opened us to the desire to live in a more ecological way and more authentically in communion with the different forms of poverty. As young people who receive a lot from the FMA Institute, we are urged to commit ourselves to the good of the Community, the planet, and the reality in which we live. With small actions we can help keep the environment cleaner and more sustainable. Furthermore, the testimonies of young people engaged in charitable services during the pandemic fueled in us a passion for the mission of serving poor and abandoned young people.
Each of us felt the dynamic presence of Mary, Mother of the Institute and of our vocations. Kneeling before her in the last moments of the year, we felt deeply grateful for her maternal protection throughout the history of the Institute, of the Province, and of each of us. This experience aroused in us the desire to prepare ourselves daily with a greater sense of responsibility, to be a living monument of gratitude to Our Lady”.