Rome (Italy). From 13 to 21 March 2024, the Novices of the International Novitiates Sister Teresa Valsè Pantellini of Rome and Mary Help of Christians of Castelgandolfo lived a pilgrimage to the Salesian places in Piedmont. The account of their experience:

“The first stop was Mornese, the land of Mother Mazzarello. Here we let her meet us and, through her letters, we heard the voice of a Mother who still accompanies us.

On the first day, Sister Piera Cavagliá, Animator of the House of Nizza Monferrato, with the passion and familiarity that distinguish her, made us rediscover the living face of Mother Mazzarello that emerges from her writings.

The following day, Sister Blanca Sanchez, Animator of the Community of Mornese, involved us in a missionary reading of the Letters. This day was particularly important for us, because we had the Grace to live it entirely at the Valponasca, alternating moments of silence, conviviality, and sharing. We hear the invitation that Mother made to the first missionaries addressed to us, “It only remains for me to tell you to have great courage and don’t have such a small heart, but a big, generous heart. Don’t be so fearful, understand?” (L 27).

Dr. Marco Pestarino then led us into the historical Mornese, pointing out how Mother Mazzarello and Father Pestarino were on the one hand children of their time; on the other hand, tools for the Spirit who “makes all things new”.

On Sunday, we left for Nizza Monferrato, where guided by Sister Paola Cuccioli, in charge of the internal historical archives, we experienced firsthand the effort of Mother Mazzarello to lead the Institute to expansion. It is the logic of the seed that gives fruit only if it agrees to die. Our visit ended with prayer at the cemetery, where we renewed our gratitude for so many sisters who showed us that it is possible to be faithful and happy!

The last stage of our pilgrimage was Turin, where we looked to Don Bosco, who always and everywhere was first of all a priest. Accompanied by Fr. Enrico Lupano, Salesian of Don Bosco, we reread the evangelical counsels in a Salesian key and we were able to pause in silence in the church of St Francis of Assisi, where the pastoral work of Don Bosco began: God loves to do great things from little ones.

The following day, Fr. Enrico Ponte, SDB, Novice Formator of Sacred Heart of Jesus Novitiate of Castelnuovo Don Bosco, led us to the places of St. Domenic Savio in Riva near Chieri, Morialdo, and Mondonio. Through the young life of the Saint, he showed us an itinerary of holiness that cannot but attract and challenge us.

In Chieri, we spent an afternoon sharing with the Salesian Novices in the places where Don Bosco lived the years of his vocational discernment.

In the last two days, as well as a moment of sharing with the Postulants of Mary Most Holy Consolata of Turin, during which we had the opportunity to internalize what we had heard and pause together in adoration before Jesus in the Pinardi chapel.

Upon returning from this pilgrimage, our heart is filled with gratitude for the gift of a vocation and of the Salesian vocation. It is always a grace to return to these places where we are witnesses for those who know how to listen, that even the stones speak!


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