Rome (Italy). On 12 September 2021, the 172 Chapter members from the five Continents live their first official meeting with a time of knowledge under the banner of fraternity and celebration.
The day began with the Eucharistic celebration presided over by Fr. Mauro Mantovani, Salesian of Don Bosco, who invites the Chapter members to live this time of grace and blessing with openness to the gift of the Holy Spirit and in attentive listening to the Word, “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5), to discern with a free and ready heart God’s calls present in the Institute today.
The icon of the banquet at Cana accompanied the moment of welcome and mutual acquaintance animated by the General Councilors Sr. Silvia Boullosa and Sr. Maria Helena Moreira. It is here that the miracle of new wine materialized in the grace of unity in diversity, in which each of the participants manifested being a family in communion: the joy of encounter, of being together, the life and mission of the 69 Provinces and 5 Preprovinces present, the names, faces, countries, and different languages that are the sign of the beauty of the FMA Institute in the world.
It is the time of miracles. The abundant water poured from the jars – joy, faith, synodality, co-responsibility, discernment, hope, amazement, encounter – has become a new reality. It is the “miracle of communion” to walk together with daring towards a future of hope for the FMA Institute. At the invitation of Mother General, “Do whatever he tells you”, networks of synodality were woven, a sign of walking together to generate life and hope for the world.
The Chapter members in celebration, from the Theater reach the Chapter Hall where the Moderator of the XXIV General Chapter, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, gives the material and some useful information to guide the beginning of the journey together. Sr. Vilma Tallone provides information about the Covid Protocol.
In the afternoon, Sr. Maria Helena Moreira, Councilor for the Communication Sector, after having presented the members of the Chapter Commission for Communication to the Assembly, shares the purpose of the mission to which they are called and some guidelines to make it possible to share the Chapter experience through the institutional channels.
After the break in a family atmosphere, the first meeting of commissions and sub-commissions takes place, a space that generates closeness and empathy, recognizing the threads of humanity that give diversity of tones to the fabric of synodality in which each one feels involved.
The day ends with the words of Mother General, Sr. Yvonne Reungoat who asks everyone to give thanks to the Lord for the joy of being there and of “being able to celebrate the Chapter in the name of Mary, who precedes us, and is a sign that she is present here and every day of our life.” She encourages, with Mother Mazzarello, to remember the commitment to “be a living image of Mary”, imitating her virtues, living with a spirit open to the will of the Father who will speak at this time. Only then will it be possible to “do whatever he tells us”.
It is beautiful and reassuring to begin the General Chapter in this atmosphere the Virgin’s presence. It is She who will accompany us in our work. What we will do, the choices we will propose, the indications we will offer to the Institute, if they pass through Her heart, will certainly be the best, those that will serve to make the charism grow, to make us believing and credible apostles.
It is not by chance that we chose as the verse for the working document: “The Mother of Jesus was there.” We want Mary to be there for this entire time. We want to let ourselves be guided by her in looking at contemporaneity and in projecting ourselves to what is necessary so that in contemporaneity, the evangelical proclamation through education can be effective for the young people of today so that the salvation brought by Christ will not remain in vain in our time.”
The day of reciprocal knowledge prepares each Chapter member to live a profound community experience full of amazement and novelty, which continually springs from listening to the Word rich with hope: “Do whatever He tells you”.
Photos: Flickr IFMA