Rome (Italy). On 11 February 2021, the fourth appointment of the “Salesian Thursdays at Auxilium”, online insights on issues of pedagogy, spirituality, and history of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, organized by the Center for FMA Studies of the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences “Auxilium” in Rome.
The theme proposed by Prof. Eliane Petri, “I entrust them to you. A timely mandate”, fits into the context of the Triennium of preparation for the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, who in 2021 are invited to study the mandate “I entrust them to you”, “a mandate that goes beyond time and space and which puts all our resources into play, our evangelizing educational passion, our will to look to the future with the audacity of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello.” (Circular n. 1000)
“I entrust them to you” is not an event that concerns only the past and life of Mary Domenica, but a mandate for the future, a message that involves and challenges educators of today.
Some questions are the guiding thread for Prof. Petri’s reflection: what is the meaning of the mandate “I entrust them to you” in the life of Mary Domenica Mazzarello? What attitude did she have in front of the mandate for an educational mission? Who and what does the Lord continue to entrust to us? What conditions are necessary for this mandate to be the womb of new life for the new generations?
“I entrust them to you” is above all, in the life of Mary Domenica, an event of grace, because the initiative is of God who asks her for total availability. She is a woman ‘touched’ by grace, who concretizes her journey of holiness in the apostolic-educational mission in favor of needy young women.
She prepares for this mission by training herself, together with her friend Petronilla, to learn the craft of a seamstress, but also by committing herself, right from the start, to guarantee the girls an integral education, characterized by prevention from moral dangers, human promotion, and the evangelizing dimension.
In the second part of her presentation, Prof. Petri talks about the timeliness of the mandate “I entrust them to you”, declining it in “He entrusts them to us”. Today the Lord continues to entrust to every Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, to all educators, each other (the community), in which ‘taking care’ concerns all the dimensions of the person: the young people of today and of different realities, in whom to recognize the dignity of the human person and for whom happiness and fulfillment are desired; the educational mission, a noble, demanding, challenging, but decisive mission, because “education is the best way to humanize the world and history”. (Pope Francis, Message for the launch of the Educational Pact)
In conclusion, Prof. Eliane Petri proposes some conditions to be lived so that the mandate “I entrust them to you” can continue to generate life and apostolic and vocational fruitfulness: the centrality of God in one’s life, cultivating apostolic interiority, educational passion, which has its roots in the mysticism of the “da mihi animas” and in the asceticism of the “cetera tolle”, the shared mission, carried out with co-responsibility and in synergy. Finally, resilience in faith is necessary, following the example of Mary Domenica Mazzarello who, after her illness, finds the inner resources to move forward with trust in God, in people, and in the future.
As it happened for Mary Domenica, “I entrust them to you” are the words that the Lord addresses to each Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, to each educator, entrusting the mission of being the womb of new life for the new generations.