Rome (Italy). From 6 to 30 May 2024, the Missions Sector of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians animates the course of Ongoing Missionary Formation ad gentes, “With Mary being a ‘presence’ that generates life” (Acts GC XXIV) held in Rome, in the General House of the FMA Institute, with stops in Mornese (AL), Nizza Monferrato (AT), Turin.

The objectives of the course, attended by 14 FMA from around the world – South Africa, Brazil, Chile, Ivory Coast, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, India, Paraguay, Thailand, Venezuela – are: to reawaken the original freshness of vocational missionary fecundity and to live this charismatic pause “at the origins” to revive the missionary passion of the da mihi animas coetera tolle.

The Mother General of the FMA Institute, Sister Chiara Cazzuola, in the encounter she had with them, wished them to live this time intensely as a gift from God.  “It is He who has made an appointment for you here” as an opportune time to stop your heart, to bless, praise, and thank the Provinces, the communities from which you come.

She then invited them to have a horizon of hope, also in relation to certain situations in the Countries in which they live and work. “It is important to be grateful to the Lord for this time of spiritual recharging to be happy missionaries, renewed inwardly by the Spirit; to look with affection and love at what has been our life until now; to have and look to the future with hope. Our horizon must be Hope. In our mission, we are missionaries of hope, especially those who live the mission ad gentes are called to take root in the resurrection of the Risen Jesus, because the source of Christian and Salesian hope is in Him.”

And she continued, “The missionary prophecy of communion between Sisters and girls becomes reality by creating a ‘house’. It is interesting to observe how Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello always privileged the term ‘house’ to talk about the various works. The College of Mornese is called ‘House of Mary Help of Christians for women’s education’. Fr. Costamagna also, speaking to the FMA of America, recalled the ‘spirit of Mornese’ and described the house of Mornese as the ‘house of the foundation’, ‘house of holy joy’, ‘holy house of Mornese’, the ‘house of God’s love’.

We are convinced that the first form of missionary activity is to help young people to experience ‘home’, which commits everyone to create a family atmosphere, to give them a place where they can meet, feel loved, valued, build relationships, dream, to be accompanied, to be able to discern God’s plan for their lives and to look to the future with hope. Sharing the dream of our Founders, we are called to rediscover even more enthusiastically and responsibly the meaning of ‘walking together’ as an Educating Community, with young people, to give them reasons for hope, joy, and awaken in them the sense of a life given out of love, the sense of mission, of leadership in view of change and a more just and fraternal society.”

Behind each of these missionary FMA in Africa, Asia, America there is a varied mosaic of languages, traditions, social interactions. They are consecrated women who, in dialogue with the multiform cultures, are a sign of prophecy, support, and peace, passing from silence to the word, by a close and fraternal presence of co-responsibility. They are Sisters who, revisiting their past, critically read their present and open themselves to the prophecy of a future, other and different from the one inherited.

Women, like many others, yet special, who with determination have responded to God’s call to be missionaries ad gentes forever – for 50, 42, 16, 15, 7 years, they have written and continue to write pages of dedication in bringing hope to young people, the poor, the marginalized, the immigrants, the world.

In the first period spent in the Generalate, the Sisters had the opportunity to deepen the life of the Institute with the direct knowledge of each area of animation. They visited the Exhibit of the Charism and the Marian Exhibit, and met with Mary Help of Christians Community of the Generalate. On 8 May, attending the General Audience in St Peter’s Square, they also had the joy of being able to interact with Pope Francis for a few minutes when, as he passed by them, Sister Imelda Barattino, a missionary in Thailand for 50 years, brought him the greetings of her cousin, Sister Ana Rosa Sivori, also a missionary in Thailand for more than 50 years. All the Sisters rejoiced at this precious moment of fraternal and attentive encounter on the part of the Holy Father.

The journey of the missionaries then continues with the opportunity to live the Feast of Mother Mazzarello in Mornese on May 13, and the Spiritual Exercises until May 18, with the new missionaries and some missionary Sisters ad gentes in Italy. From 20 to 24 May, they will then be “in the footsteps of Don Bosco” at Colle Don Bosco, Chieri, and Turin, culminating the experience with participation in the celebrations of the Solemnity of Mary Help of Christians and the procession at the Basilica in Turin.

Upon their return to Rome, until 29 May, they will have the opportunity to meet personally with the Councilor of the Missions Sector, Sister Ruth del Pilar Mora, and to further studies, before returning to the missions of origin.

Photos: Flickr FMA


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