Rome (Italy). At the end of the Plenum winter meeting, Mother and the General Council of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, at the beginning of Choral Circular No. 1025, define 2022 as a “year of grace”, characterized by the celebration of the 4th centenary of death of St. Francis de Sales, on which occasion Pope Francis gave the Church and the Salesian Family a gift of the Letter Totum Amoris, and above all, by the closing of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the FMA Institute:
“The transparency of God’s action in the life of so many of our sisters and educating communities and the presence of Mary in the history of the Institute is a reason for praise, blessing, and commitment for a new missionary proclamation, capable of generating life, hope, and future for the vitality of the charism on all Continents”.
They also underline how in this period following General Chapter XXIV, the Six-Year Planning of the General Council continues to be the point of reference for the assumption of priority Choices and the Chapter Deliberation, with the commitment to “be a presence that generates life,” that guided them in their visits to the various Provinces and Communities.
Other processes activated are those relating to the journeys of continuous formation and missionary synodality, to live the transforming power of ‘presence’ in daily life, and respond to the cry of the poor, and the process of re-signification, implemented with great daring by many communities and Provinces, to “overcome the temptation to leave things as they are” and respond today to the unprecedented calls of God.
One process implemented is the unification of the Provinces of Argentina, which took place on 31 January 2023, the result of a long journey of discernment, with the desire to give new impetus to the charism and continue to live communion by valuing diversity.
The General Council, with the collaborating sisters of the Sectors, also gave continuity to “formation together” with insights into integral ecology, a theme also chosen by the editorial team of the magazine Da Mihi Animas for the four numbers of 2023.
A path initiated in synodal style and with an interactive methodology is also the reflection shared at an interdisciplinary level in collaboration with an FMA commission to respond to the mandate of GC XXIV which asked to update the texts of the Formation Plan of the FMA Institute and of the Guidelines of the FMA educational mission.
Mother and the Councilors then dwelt on some significant “family experiences and synodality”: the meeting with the Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, and his Council in Turin Valdocco on 22 December 2023; the annual meeting with the General Council of the Secular Institute of Don Bosco Volunteers, resumed in the Generalate after the pandemic; the formation meeting with the group of new Provincials from four Continents, lived as a particularly relevant experience of synodality; the event “What future for girls after the Pandemic?” held on 7 December 2022 in Rome at the headquarters of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) and organized by Good Shepherd International Foundation Onlus, Vides International NGO, Foundation Carbonian in the World, and RNDM International Mission Development Office, with the collaboration of UISG.
The Circular also highlights some Church events, first of all the return to the Father’s house on 31 December 2022, of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whom Mother and the Councilors recall “with affection and gratitude as a person so noble, so kind, witness of faith and prayer, and great teacher of catechesis”.
At this time, the Church is experiencing the continental phase of the Synod on synodality, in view of the General Assembly of the Bishops Synod that will take place in its first session, from 4 to 29 October 2023.
“Synodality also entails recognizing that each one is the bearer of a gift for the good of all” and this is particularly evident in the trip of Pope Francis, from 31 January to 5 February 2023, to the Democratic Republic of Congo and to South Sudan in an “Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Peace”, which made visible “the attention to inclusion for all, presence and closeness to people to get to know and listen to them, the valorization of differences, and openness to signs of the future”.
The Circular concludes with a reference to the disastrous earthquake which hit the populations of Turkey and Syria on 6 February. Mother and the Councilors express closeness and solidarity, thanking the Communities of the Middle East Province “Adolescent Jesus” (MOR) and all those who, in various ways, collaborate in providing first aid – and with the wish to “live Lent with a merciful heart, willing to let oneself be transformed by the Word as Mary did”.