Turin (Italy). On 21 November 2021 in Turin, in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, in the Eucharistic Celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe, nine new missionary Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and one missionary, and nine Salesians of Don Bosco, received the missionary crucifix.
At the celebration, presided over by the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, were present the Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Chiara Cazzuola; the Provincial of the Mary Help of Christians Province of Piedmont (IPI), Sr. Emma Bergandi; Sr. Blanca Sánchez, Collaborator of the Missions Sector of the FMA Institute; Fr. Alfred Maravilla, General Councilor for SDB Missions; Fr. Juan Carlos Pérez Godoy, Councilor for the Mediterranean Region; the Provincials of the same Region with the Provincial Councils gathered in Turin; and the young people of the Salesian animation journey of the FMA and SDB Provinces of Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta.
In his homily the Rector Major, taking up the Word of God of the Solemnity, said: “Today the Church invites us to discover that the Lord is truly our King…. The world needs disciples and missionaries who can testify that the Lord Jesus is at the center of our life”.
He then recalled the first missionary sending that marks the 152th anniversary, which took place on 11 November 1875 from Turin-Valdocco, when Don Bosco sent the first missionaries to Argentina, Patagonia. “Even today the Holy Spirit of God continues to protect and accompany his Church in the world. … These 34 missionaries – present today in 19 because of the pandemic – will go to meet those who await them, not to teach, but as servants in the name of the Lord Jesus, to share life and in this sharing-communion, they will offer the best of themselves. This is how the Lord can continue knocking on the doors of many hearts that thirst for truth and thirst for a Kingdom of God that is more just, more human, and of peace”.
After the blessing of the crucifixes, the mandate to the missionaries took place with the formula:
“Receive the sign of the love of Christ the Redeemer. May He be your support and model of authentic and faithful love. Be the smile and the tender presence of Jesus for the children and young people to whom you are sent. In your mission, you will live holiness and you will find the joy that fills your life.”
Mother Chiara Cazzuola, at 144 years since the first expedition of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, gave each FMA the missionary crucifix. At the end of the celebration, the missionaries went in procession with Mother, the Rector Major, and the Celebrants to the altar where the remains of Don Bosco are kept.
On 20 November 2021, in preparation for the celebration, the missionaries and new missionaries lived a time of dialogue with the Rector Major and Mother General, in which they shared the motivations, challenges, and opportunities of the missionary vocation ad-gentes.
“This is one of the precious moments that we live together, Mother and Rector Major”, Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime expressed. “Since the first expedition sent by Don Bosco, in the history of the two Congregations, they have never stopped, not even because of the two world wars. It means that missionary spirit transcends, goes beyond the greatest difficulties. Finding us together makes me think back to the first expeditions, when Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello bid farewell to their sisters and brothers. Do you know why this continues today? Because it is God who is behind it, it is not just a human strategic plan”.
Mother Chiara Cazzuola, at her first participation as Superior General in this event, underlined the importance of keeping alive the awareness of the missionary spirit, present in the Salesian Family from the beginning: “If I think of our sisters, they left very young, without culture, with nothing, but with an impulse, with a passion! It is this passion that made them sail the ocean, that made them incarnate in the fabric of another continent, and made them learn the language, to feel like one among the people!”.
In a fraternal conversation full of ideas, the missionaries were able to express their questions and hear from the words of Fr. Angel and Mother Chiara the expectations of the two religious Congregations and the hopes of the SDB and FMA communities in receiving a new missionary. They also received advice and encouragement to reach out to those who await them with generosity and a spirit of service, keeping missionary enthusiasm alive in the Communities and Provinces.
Photo: Flickr FMA