Rome (Italy). On April 26, 2020 in Rome, in St. John Bosco Province, the 2020 World Feast of Gratitude was celebrated online: “Your life is a tree that bears fruit.”

The Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sister Yvonne Reungoat, in response to the messages of gratitude received from the Provinces of the FMA Institute and from the Salesian Family for the Feast of Gratitude 2020, wrote a Thank You Message. Here is the full text.

“Dearest sisters, lay people, young people, and Salesian Family Members,

After the on-line celebrations of the World Feast of Gratitude, my heart feels the need to express a very heartfelt thank-you to St. John Bosco Roman Province (IRO), to the Mary Mother of the Church Vice Province, to the sisters of the Generalate who coordinated the preparation and the celebration of this event, and to the entire Institute.

This year the situation provoked by the coronavirus, led us to invent a new way to celebrate and the creativity was great!  I think I can affirm that the preparation and the celebration of the Feast had great depth because we were concentrated on the essential.

The intensity of participation was not weakened by the ‘distant’ participation of the whole Institute, of every Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, of the educating communities, of the adult and young lay people, of the Salesian Family members, and of many people close to the Salesian charism.  In reality, I did not feel the distance because the expressions of gratitude, of affection, of communion in prayer, the sharing of the journey made in each community were very felt, sincere, simple, familial, and I sensed you were close to me, inside me, in my heart!  You saw my emotion at some moments.  The signs of God’s love, of the living presence of Mary Help of Christians, the grace of unity of the Institute, the fidelity of the sisters, and the love we have in our heart, the participation of so many young people in our life, the great strength of the Past Pupils in the whole world, the growth of the Salesian Family are like a bottomless, unlimited ocean that cannot be contained in any words!
How may messages and how many signs of affection and solidarity came to me through the various channels of communication!

With this message I wish to express to everyone my deep gratitude for having known how to appreciate  this very special event, enjoying the essentials with an open heart and reciprocal gratitude that has, as always, a world dimension. Yes, I perceived not only the ‘virtual’ presence but also the living, concrete one, in a huge community united by the family spirit that, beyond the external conditions, knew how to blend into one hymn of gratitude to God, above all for having given us a mission to live with and for the young.  In fact, it is with them that we wish to fill the world with gratitude, to make new sprouts of hope and of joy grow so that “our life may be a tree that bears fruit,”  as the theme of the Feast states.

It is a ‘tree’ that requires deep roots, that needs to be watered faithfully so that its life will be nourished by pure water.  I thank you because you draw this water from the Eucharist and the motherly presence of Mary Help of Christians.  This is the way it was for Don Bosco and for Mother Mazzarello and this is how it is for us today as well.

The wish that I address to you with much confidence is that this unprecedented experience will not end in a short time, and that the “thank you” which exploded with creativity at local and provincial levels will be expressed in everyday life.

Together, we can discover with new amazement that there are countless reasons to thank each other and to be grateful.  Allow me to leave as a memento of this special Feast of Gratitude, the ‘task’ to place the gaze of your heart on gestures, signs, opportunities to say – thank you!  In this way, we can all be skilled ‘gardeners’ able to make new shoots grow, which in time, will flourish and become quality fruit.

I am certain that you will know how to give a name to these shoots, that you will take care of them with passion, with prayer, with solidarity, with great love.  Every instant, every gesture lived with love brings good fruit and becomes fecund for eternity because love endures forever. I share this and would share much more but I know that you can intuit the gratitude that vibrates within me for this rich experience lived together in these years and also during this feast!

I also thank, on behalf of the Sisters of the General Council, the Provincial Sr. Angela Maria Maccioni and the Roman Province, to the Superior of the Vice Province of Sister Maria del Carmen Canales and to the Sisters of the Vice Province of Mary Mother of the Church, to the Director Sister Bernarda Santamaria and to the Sisters of the Generalate and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians who collaborated to give a family face to this moment lived worldwide through the various media. Special thanks to the community of the Generalate which represented the whole world in celebratory and festive moments.

We are about to enter the month of May dedicated to Mary Help of Christians. We confidently ask her to support those affected by Covid-19, to strengthen those who are caring for them, and to comfort their families. Welcome all who died of this virus into your Motherly arms. Intervene so that this pandemic may end as soon as possible. May You, our Mother, help us to invent the future so that the gift of the charism may continue to be a light for all the young people of the world.

As I renew my gratitude to you, I feel I am in full harmony with you in believing that today we are all called to live this experience of crisis with faith and hope and to be in solidarity, as far as possible, towards those in situations of material and spiritual need.
We welcome Pope Francis’ invitation to pray the Rosary every day to overcome this time of trial with faith and also to rediscover the beauty and strength of praying together, possibly as a community.
We are still in the Easter season, thus I pray that the risen Jesus be your joy and your hope in the certainty that Life has overcome death.

A heartfelt embrace with the affection I have for each of you.

God bless us and Mary Help of Christians teach us to generate new life in love and joy.

Rome, 28 april 2020

                                                                                 Sr. Yvonne Reungoat
Superior General of the FMA Institute»



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