Turin (Italy). On 24 April 2022, in Valdocco, Turin, the World Feast of Gratitude began.
The Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, is present with the Vicar, Sr. María del Rosario García Ribas, with some General Councilors, the Provincials of Europe, and the young women in formation, from 24 to 26 April at the places of the origins of the FMA Institute on the 150th anniversary of foundation.
The day opens with the welcome of about 500 SYM Day young people, who flock to the courtyards of Valdocco to live together the experience of being “Loved by name”. At 10:30, the appointment is in the Grand Valdocco Theater for the meeting with Mother General. After the welcome with animation and music, there was a thought-provoking theatrical with which the youth reality in society based on the importance of numbers was described, and contrasted with the desire not to be classified as a number, but rather to show themselves in their own originality.
It is the key principle that guides the interview with Mother Chiara. “We shouted that we are not numbers, but each of us has a name and a story,” says Annarita, the presenter, “so we want to know something about you today.” Mother introduced herself to the young people by starting with some photos of her childhood projected on the screen and from the origin of her name. “When I was born, I was the only one in my town of Campiglia Marittima, to be named Chiara”.
On the stage, some young people then ask her several questions: “How did you meet Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello?” asks Gabriel. “I met them in the testimony of the Sisters of my town. My Mom took me to Kindergarten and from there the bond grew that brought me here. And then seeing the sisters so content and happy, made me question at a certain point”.
Another girl, Chiara, touches on the theme of the vocational choice, “How in your life did you feel called by name by God?” to which Mother responds by speaking of an answer to several calls, in a tiring but very beautiful journey.
To the question, “How are the Daughters of Mary close to the people?” Mother Chiara replied by speaking of the FMA Communities in Ukraine and of their aid to the population. “Our sisters are there; they share the fear and anxieties of the people; they try to give relief and comfort. Let’s say thank you to these sisters.” Mother Chiara takes the opportunity to recall and asks us not to forget the other areas where there are conflicts and where the sisters try to be an oasis of peace for many children and young people.
“What are the hopes and sufferings you have found in the world?” Marianna then asks. “The hope of a better future, especially for young people; of a society that truly lives the ideal of love and peace; the hope for justice, so that everyone has the opportunity to live in an honest and dignified way and children can grow in respect for their dignity; so that women are respected,” is the response.
“Is there an encounter with a young person who particularly marked you?”. Mother Chiara replies that there is not a particular young person, but many young people whom she sought to accompany and encourage to overcome difficult moments, helping many to reach a scholastic goal. “While being with the children, it seems one does not see what has been sown, then it is confirmed later”.
Finally, Sofia asks for advice for all young people. “First of all, that of not letting yourselves be discouraged, as Pope Francis says, of not letting yourselves be robbed of hope. On Easter Monday at St. Peter’s, he told young people not to give up using their ‘eyes’, that is, their ability to look ‘beyond and more’ … So, I tell you with all my heart, go ahead, look beyond, take courage, support yourselves, and above all, have the ability to look up. Don Bosco used to say, ‘Walk with your feet on the ground, but with your gaze turned to heaven’, because the Lord is with us and even when we do not seem to see the signs in reality, He is holding us by the hand and this is a certainty and a hope that give us peace”.
The selfie with Mother concludes this ‘family moment’ on stage with the young people. Space is then given for two representatives of the SYM Council to present its activities and the “YM Sound” initiative, born during the lockdown, a song born in the rooms of the young people in the time of pandemic.
The Youth Ministry Delegates of Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta, Fr. Alberto Gioia, Salesian of Don Bosco, and Sr. Carmela Busia, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, concluded this direct streaming by thanking Mother Chiara, the General Councilors, the Provincials, the young women in formation, and the young people present, inviting them to continue the day with games and with testimonies at the stands of the Salesian family and novices.
The Eucharistic Celebration at the end of the morning on Mercy Sunday, is presided over by the Provincial of the Circumscription Mary Help of Christians of the Salesians of Don Bosco in Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta, Fr. Leonardo Mancini and begins with the words of the young people of the SYM, ” We are not numbers, but faces that God and the world meet. Called by name by a God who loves us and wishes to meet us.”
“Dearest Mother Chiara, we know well that if we are gathered here together with many young people for the 150th anniversary of the Foundation of the FMA Institute, it is because there have been people who felt called by name and deeply loved, Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello. They set in motion this great movement of love and charity that reaches us,” is the start of Fr. Leonardo’s homily, which highlights the characteristics of Thomas who, despite his fears, has the courage to be a believer, therefore happy, with the beautiful profession of faith, “My Lord and my God”.
The Feast of Gratitude continues with the transfer to Mornese where, at the Shrine of the Mazzarelli, Vespers are celebrated presided over by Fr. Stefano Martoglio, Vicar of the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
Photo: Flickr FMA