Rome (Italy). On 27 and 28 November 2021 the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of Mary Help of Christians Community of the Generalate of Rome (RCG) had the transmission of the XXIV General Chapter, with the aim of living together an experience of the Holy Spirit, retracing the event on an experiential and content level, sharing the gifts received, projecting oneself into the future of the FMA Institute, and expressing gratitude, joy, and hope for what has been experienced.
The festive sound of the song “The daughters of Israel dance with joy” and the welcome by the five sisters who represented the ‘servants’, introduced the FMA of the Community in Sala St. Teresa, to participate in the ‘wedding feast’ of the passage from the Gospel of John from which the theme of GCXXIV was taken, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). Communities that generate life in the heart of contemporaneity”.
Sr. Gabriella Imperatore, Delegate to GCXXIV for the Community, animated the chapter experience, proposing as a first step a dynamic of sharing in small groups to summarize in a word the particular experience of the Community of the Generalate, an experience lived directly ‘in the field’ even if outside the Chapter Hall, in an atmosphere of serenity, prayer, and service in support of the 172 Chapter Sisters from 58 countries around the world.
In sharing what she experienced, Sr. Gabriella spoke of a unique and unrepeatable experience in an atmosphere of joy and responsibility. At the center was always the Word of God, with the scenario of the Wedding at Cana and, above all, the constant presence of Mary, a foreseeing woman. Listening was the priority attitude, together with docibilitas, indispensable to accept the calls of God. Personal and community discernment, reflection, study, silence were also of fundamental importance to reach the election of Mother and of the Councilors, and for the choice of programmatic guidelines for the next six years, listening to the Spirit and to the appeals of the young people and of history.
The opening celebration was introduced through the words of Mother Yvonne: “It is important to desire to listen to His voice, to be alert as a sentry, to have a heart that eagerly awaits the encounter” and, taking up the verses of the passage of John, obedience was highlighted as an act of courageous trust to remain, like Mary and the servants, open to the Spirit and to welcome what Jesus asks.
The FMA of the Community then entered into the heart of the Chapter event, with an overview of the participants, the process and the methodology, on the work of study and reflection in the 5 Commissions and 15 sub-commissions, whose summaries were presented in the Assembly, in a climate of serene confrontation and constant dialogue.
The Report on the life of the Institute in the six-year period 2014/2021, the story of the experiences in which the Charism is incarnated, the Good Nights, the recreations, were moments in which the Chapter members were able to touch ‘how much life there is’ in the FMA Institute. The week of discernment was particularly intense to arrive at the moment of election. The visit of Pope Francis was surprising and exciting; the final message of the newly elected Mother Chiara Cazzuola was profound and incisive.
The interventions of Fr. Erino Leoni, SDB; Fr. Pascual Chavez Villanueva, Rector Major Emeritus of the Salesians of Don Bosco; the Rector Major Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime; Card. João Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life; and the Secretary Msgr. José Rodriguez Carballo were precious for the work.
On the afternoon of 28 November, the Community once again entered the climate of listening and interiorizing with the song in Spanish: “Give me, Lord, your gaze”. The time of discernment was lived with attitudes of gratitude, contemplation, and silence, to allow ourselves to be transformed in order to renew the mind, to keep the heart open and available.
Gratitude to Mother Yvonne and the Councilors of the previous sexennium becomes tangible in reviewing some images of the joyful faces among the FMA, the people and the children, boys and girls who visited, and to bless for the new path that awaits them. It is also exciting to listen to the interviews with the new and re-elected Councilors, who answer questions relating to their life, mandate, and service in the Institute that opens before them.
After the presentation of the Final Document With Mary, prophecy of a creative and courageous presence, that tells the experiences the experiences and contents of GC XXIV and presents the priority choices and guidelines for action, the celebration of sending , “From Cana to Capernaum“, invites us to resume the road “to share life and mission together with young people and the laity, to let God breathe in our existence, and courageously face the challenges we will encounter”.
At the final song of the Wedding at Cana, the 5 sisters who represent the 5 continents where the Institute is present, pour good wine into the glasses, an invitation to new gestures to be women of hope, who generate life in abundance.
Surprising us at the moment of the toast, Mother General, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, enters the room and invites all to raise their glasses to celebrate “the miracle of synodality” and encourages us to walk together boldly towards a future of hope for the Institute of the FMA.
Mother Chiara concludes with these words: “The joy of Jesus in our midst, and of His Mother, accompanied all the pre-chapter, chapter, and post-chapter work. I wish also for you that this journey may be fruitful in good and may be for us and for all the FMA a journey of regeneration and of vocational fruitfulness. Happy Journey!”.