Cachoeira do Campo (Brazil).  From 1st to 6th March 2024, at the Spirituality House Retiro das Rosas, in Cachoeira do Campo in Minas Gerais, Mother Mazzarello Province (BMM), hosted the Inter-Sector Seminar of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians on the theme “For a generative animation”.

The Inter-Sector Seminar is a proposal born during the XXIV General Chapter of 2021, with the aim of accompanying the Provincials, the Provincial Councils, and the FMA that refer to the Sectors at the service of animation and government, in the perspective of the Preventive System.

The beauty of the surrounding nature helped to ensure that the almost 70 participants coming from all regions of Brazil could meet, pray, reflect, talk, share, and also make some decisions, accompanied by Mother Chiara Cazzuola, Superior General of the FMA Institute, and seven other General Councilors who arrived from Rome.

In fact, participating in the Seminar of the Interprovincial Conference CIB were the Provincials, the Provincial Councils, as well as the Coordinators for Formation, Administration, Communication, Mission ad gentes, Salesian Family, and Youth Ministry of the four Brazilian Provinces.

Every day, the FMA present at the Inter-Sector Seminar participated in a Lectio Divina based on the book of the Acts of the Apostles, virtually conducted by Sister Maria Ko, biblical scholar and professor at the Pontifical Faculty of Education Science “Auxilium” (Rome), which addressed issues related to the three nuclei proposed by the Seminar – Authority, Synodality, Generativity.

The activities were always stimulating and guided by the wise words of Mother Chiara, who proposed a charismatic theme in the first part of every morning, making very present Mother Mazzarello and Don Bosco, the origins of the Institute, and the first community of Mornese, reviving the life of the beginnings in terms of animation and government.

Other speakers also contributed, always in virtual form, such as Fr. Pascual Chávez Villanueva SDB, Rector Major emeritus of the Salesian Congregation, who spoke of “The service of authority today: opportunity and challenge for consecrated life. The triple mission of serving, animating, and governing”; and Colombian Professor Bernardo Toro, who spoke of “Care, paradigm of the new civilization, element for a new vision of the cosmos”.

Also, Sister Maria Inês Vieira Ribeiro (MAD), President Emeritus of the Conference of Religious of Brazil (CRB), present in Cachoeira do Campo, offered insights through a reflection entitled, “The contribution of consecrated life today, on this continent, on the way to the Synod”- How the Synod challenges Consecrated Life”.

The workshops, which brought the Sisters together to dialogue, share life and experiences in relation to each nucleus of the Seminar.

As part of the methodology of the Seminar, the various moments of silence and personal abandonment helped the participants to prepare for the workshops. Every day, in addition to prayer and the Eucharistic celebration, which helped to strengthen the dimension of faith and listening to the Word of God, the group also met for moments of relaxation and ‘recreation’, as is typical of the Salesian tradition. And speaking of the Salesian tradition, every day of work always ended with the “Good night” of Mother Chiara who, in addition to summing up the day, shared the news of the Institute.

During the Seminar, there were some very significant moments, much awaited especially by the Sector Coordinators. One of the days of the Seminar was dedicated to a specific meeting with the Sector Councilors to reflect, dialogue, and share challenges and concrete steps towards a more synodal animation, more vivifying at the Provincial, Conference, and Institute levels.

Also of importance was the meeting of the participants by Provinces to identify the processes of change and conversion in the service of animation and governance, some conditions to achieve them and an action to continue the path of synodality as CIB. At a later time, it was shared in the Assembly to then make decisions at the level of the Interprovincial Conference. It was a moment marked by maturity, sharing, and transparency in the desire that CIB continue to grow in meaning and synodality, and that the process of the New Configuration be evaluated so that animation and government in the Provinces may be truly life-giving.

The program also provided a closing word from Mother Chiara, who offered very concrete ideas and indications to the participants to transform into life the life shared during the days in Cachoeira do Campo. The closing Eucharist helped to thank for the experience of the Seminar in the synodality of a large community: that of the CIB.

On the evening of 6 March, a moment of conviviality and thanksgiving around Mother Chiara and the General Councilors marked the official conclusion of the Seminar that will continue in the different realities of Brazil where the FMA give life to the charism of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello.

This was the third seminar experience at the FMA Institute level, following the same methodology and the same objectives, previously held in Lusaka, Zambia for the CIAM Conference of Africa and Madagascar (24-29 August 2023) and in Frascati, Rome, for the CIME Conference of Europe and the Middle East (19-23 September 2023). The next experiences are in Santiago de Chile for the CICSAL Conference (8-12 March) and in Cochabamba, Bolivia, for CINAB, (15 to 19 March). Six more Seminars for the other Conferences will be completed by September.

Photos: Flickr FMA


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