Rome (Italy). On 19 May 2024, the Community of Mary Help of Christians of the Generalate (RCG), celebrated the Feast of Gratitude in the presence of Mother Chiara Cazzuola, who had returned from Mozambico after the World Feast.

The day opened with the celebration of Lauds and the Eucharist of the Solemnity of Pentecost, presided over by Fr. Carlo Maria Zanotti, SDB, Director of Jesus Master Community, of the Preprovince Mary Seat of Wisdom (UPS). He introduced the homily saying, “Today this community is celebrating the gift of Mother Chiara’s motherhood, exercised with generosity, joy, humility, and simplicity. What better place to say ‘thank you’ than in the Eucharist? It is here that we truly meet and here we unite. It is in the Eucharist that the community is formed, nourished, and shaped; ‘the center of the day, the moment in which our community is founded and renewed’ (Cost. 40). Therefore, the place most suitable to give depth and truth to our ‘thank you’.”

Taking up the readings of the day, in particular the Acts of the Apostles, he stressed that the first community “was all together in the same place”; was able to be together. “This indication is a strong provocation for our commitment to communion.” He continued by listing some characteristics of the Community, in the light of the Holy Spirit:

“Today, community is the space of response to the loneliness of our time. It is a response in sharing (breaking bread together) to the logic of exploitation and exclusion, at various levels, that often suffocates us and makes us anonymous. The community is the space where everyone must feel welcomed for who she is, for what she can do, with particular attention to the weakest. The community is the place to cultivate hope and make possible the dream of the Kingdom, which can be realized only if all and each one are part of it. The community is the space where, together, it is possible to make prophetic choices of proclamation and denunciation, so that justice, respect for the fundamental rights of humanity, may be truly practiced. Being together is possible by welcoming the gift of the Spirit, or perhaps we can understand that our very being together is a condition for the Holy Spirit to burst into our communities like a roar, a wind, a fire!”

After lunch in fraternity with Mother and the Sisters of the General Council in the center, the Community met in Mother Angela Vespa room, which for the occasion became the return plane from the trip to Mozambique, where the World Gratitude Day took place on April 26. The illustrious guest of the Maputo/Rome trip was of course Mother Chiara, announced by the ‘flight attendant’ and applauded by the passengers, who welcomed her singing the hymn of the Institute, ‘Oh Qual Sorte’.

During the ‘flight’, the slogan – “With Mary, guided by the dream, we generate peace by taking care of our common home” – and the symbols of the World Feast of Gratitude,

in particular the baobab. A traditional dance, performed by an African sister, introduced a suggestive moment in which some FMA of the Community impersonated the gigantic trees, describing characteristics, uses, and legends of the population. In addition to providing water, food, shadow, the baobab is also a symbol of strength, resilience, and guardianship of the community, and therefore must be defended – like the rest of the common home – from the threats of climate change, disease, urbanization, and human activities.

At the end, the flight attendant allowed a ‘journalist’ present on board to interview Mother, who recounted the experience of the month spent in Angola and Mozambique. First of all, expressing gratitude for seeing the beauty and fruitfulness of the Charism in all parts of the world and admiration for the Sisters who do so much good with sacrifice and in a very warm climate. All the Provincials of the CIAM Conference attended the Feast, at the conclusion of the Spiritual Exercises in Angola. “This was a sign of unity, of growth together, just like the baobab”, observed Mother who felt “sentiments of gratitude and encouragement for them.” She then resumed the baobab metaphor to leave a message:

“We lived all this during Easter time. The liturgy accompanied our journey, even on the day of the Feast of Gratitude   illuminated our day, like a caress of the Lord. We must always have this sense, like the baobab, of care, of looking up, this sense of sacredness, of life, ours and that which surrounds us. Look at the reality that we are immersed in – our history, our culture, what we are experiencing – with a positive eye, with the ability to go beyond what we can see. A bit like the baobab, which reaches out, is never discouraged. If it falls, instead of dying, it continues to live in another dimension.”

She then thanked the Generalate Community, which being international, has a particular experience, also a formative one: “being an international community constantly helps us to keep a broad gaze on the world and at our great Institute. We are the fruit of the Sisters who sowed with courage and sacrifice before us, but it is certain that the responsibility of the present, of the future, is now ours.” She also thanked for the sense of belonging, attention, fraternity of the Sisters, “when we return home, we feel that we are family”.

It is an inter-congregational community, hosting Sisters from other congregations in Rome attending university courses or for other reasons.  In fact, also present were Mother who came for the Salesian Family Council in Turin, and the General Treasurer of the Sisters Handmaids of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (SIHM), and a  SF Group.

With the hymn of the Feast of Gratitude and the words of the Animator, Sister Carla Castellino, who stressed the intensity of participation and prayer with which we lived the time of preparation and celebration in Mozambique, also with insights on Laudato Si’, the time of fraternity around Mother concluded.


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