Rome (Italy). On 13 and 14 January 2024, the online formation of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians facilitators who will carry out interviews and focus groups in the different contexts/languages of the FMA presences of the world began for the revision and updating of the documents of the Formation Plan and the Guidelines of the Educational Mission (LOME) of the FMA Institute.

The proposals approved by General Chapter XXIV entrusted to Mother and the General Council with regard to this process are:

  • Update the text of the Formation Plan of the FMA Institute: Rooted in the Covenant (2000) taking into account the changed socio-cultural context, of the new formative instances and the most recent Documents of the Church, remaining faithful to the choice of the Institute to start from ongoing formation.
  • Review the Guidelines of the FMA educational mission (2005) taking into account the changing socio-cultural context, the emerging educational challenges, and the more recent orientations of the Church (Acts GCXXIV n. 38).

The process began in August 2022, through a small international team of FMA that – under the leadership of the Vicar General, Sister María del Rosario García Ribas, and the coordination of Sister Marthe Séide and Sister Enrica Ottone, Professors at the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences “Auxilium” of Rome – has prepared exploratory research

The first FMA to receive formation on the methodology of the focus group on 18 December 2023, were Mother and the General Councilors with the Sector Collaborators:  Formation, Youth Ministry, Missions, Social Communication, Salesian Family, Administration, and the General Secretariat.

The process then expanded: the online meeting of 13 (in Italian) and 14 January 2024 (in English) involved a hundred FMA from five the continents. With the aim of stimulating reflection, participation, formative sharing, and data collection for the updating of the Institute’s documents, the work of the focus groups will involve almost a thousand FMA worldwide of various ages and responsibilities, lay collaborators, young people, and formandees in the different stages.

The focus group is an unstructured interview method based on the collection of ideas, considerations, and suggestions expressed by a discussion group in the presence of a facilitator, which in this case takes place online. Each group consists of about ten people and the objective is to detect the meanings, attitudes, and behaviors in relation to the proposed statements, concerning some nuclei of the two documents.

The focus group methodology allows for the activation of a participatory process, characterized by listening, discernment, involvement; a gradual and convergent path, unitary, in continuity with the previous paths and those in place, that leads to “feeling part of” and to give their own contribution.

The desire is to activate an experience that has a ‘transformative’ impulse, that may lead to an effective growth of personal and community identity for a more joyful vocational response; a stable disposition to constant updating at all stages of life; a renewed awareness of the ‘frame of reference’ of the educational mission; and an incentive for a new educational-pastoral dynamism.

It is also a process that has a specific formative impact on some FMA involved in first person who, after receiving the formation, will in turn be facilitators in world groups.

With this phase one really enters into a Salesian synodal dynamic, which allows savoring the greatness and diversity of the Institute, where everyone can suggest the best ideas for the growth of the identity and charismatic mission.


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