Rome (Italy). At the opening of Circular no. 1032, the Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sister Chiara Cazzuola, expresses gratitude to the Lord for the creation as Cardinal of the Rector Major Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime on 30 September 2023 in Rome in St. Peter’s Square during the Consistory, and for the Pope’s trust in Fr. Ángel and in the Salesian charism. She assures him of our prayers for his new mission, “knowing that we will still find him close to us as a good shepherd, in his love of predilection for young people, the poor, families, and in particular for consecrated life”.
Recalling the great ecclesial event underway with the work of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Mother recalls what Pope Francis said. It deals with “an experience of grace in which the protagonist is the Holy Spirit who has the power to compose all the differences in the harmony of a single voice,” of a Church in which every Christian community, every person with their own characteristics is a function of the harmonious unity of the “symphony”.
From this perspective, she sees that the effective implementation of the Synod consists in communion, “which gives fruitfulness to the mission and makes us capable in our daily lives of discerning, listening to each other, dialoging, and walking together,” as our most precious contribution as Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. She urges the Communities to create and maintain a circulation of life, “an experience of true communion and not just coming together to work.”
Referring to the art. 49 of the Constitutions of the FMA Institute, Mother says, “We are together for a mysterious call of love, for a shared mission to implement in the Church a project of integral education to which each of us contributes by giving the best of ourselves.”
Looking at the current situation of the world “shaken by wars, violence, and the thirst for domination,” Mother underlines the urgency of “educating and educating ourselves towards a coexistence in which we can experience authentic fraternity and reciprocity, indispensable requirements to build peace together.”
Burning hearts, feet on the move
Besides being the month of the Rosary through which it is possible to invoke the gift of peace on humanity, a “very fragile reality, so at risk today, and for this reason, so necessary and desired,” October is also the month dedicated to the missions when we are called to pray so that the Gospel message may reach the ends of the earth. We are also called to renew our “missionary spirit as an essential dimension of Christian and Salesian life.” In this regard, Mother invites us to re-read the first missionary dream of Don Bosco that attributes to the prayer of the Rosary the success of the Salesian mission (Cf. BM pp. 53-55).
“Also today, Jesus entrust to everyone the mandate to evangelize the world to which we belong and in which we live,” affirms Mother Chiara, taking up the Message of Pope Francis for World Missions Day 2023 that describes the transformative itinerary lived by the disciples of Emmaus (Cf. Lk 24: 31-35).
The experience of the two disciples remains paradigmatic for achieving daily communion with Jesus, which makes us missionary. “This is the important moment also for our missionary spirit. When we discover and rediscover the living presence of Jesus within us, we must proclaim Him and share the joy of His presence”.
This is also the experience of Mother Mazzarello and of many Daughters of Mary Help of Christians who “had the grace of experiencing the living presence of the Eucharistic Jesus in their hearts in a singular way, like the Servant of God Mother Rosetta Marchese (1922–1984).” Mother recalls that it is, “an experience that characterizes us as Salesian educators and is to be transmitted above all to young people and to the world as a charismatic gift, together with filial love for Mary Help of Christians. The mission, the fruit of a transformative journey, is the vocation of every baptized person, of each and every one.
The history of the Institute has been a missionary history since the beginning, written by ‘burning hearts and feet on the move’, by Sisters who knew how to live in communion with God and with each other, involving many young people and adults in the mission through attraction”.
Missionary Spirit and the future
The missionary spirit, “expression of the apostolic passion of Don Bosco and of Mother Mazzarello,” that “has continued to distinguish the Institute throughout its history,” is an aspect which, as Institute, we feel the need to deepen.
The signs of missionary vitality and fruitfulness denote that “charism is a gift of the Holy Spirit and its action cannot be imprisoned.” These are: the generosity of people and Provinces, thanks to which the Institute continues to expand its charismatic presence beyond its geographical borders; the many requests to have the presence of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, especially where there are ever new and urgent educational needs; and educating communities open to the valorization of intergenerational, intercultural, interreligious dialogue.
Mother Chiara focuses in particular on the aspects of internationality and interculturality, “dimensions to be rediscovered, to be valued, and to be lived with more conviction and courageous openness in our communities”.
These dimensions, which have characterized the Institute since its origins, are today choices aimed at preserving and developing the educational charism of the Institute, such as the formation of international and intercultural communities. Mother explains, “The current community of Mornese, with its new international face is, for example, a sign of what the Institute is also promoting in many other places. Re-signifying our presence requires forming Sisters and communities in ecclesial, intercultural, and inter-congregational openness with a strong missionary impulse in the spirit of the charism that the Founders have given to us”.
The Circular ends with some ecclesial notes: the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum by Pope Francis, with the invitation to read it, as a precious contribution that Mother deems “of prophetic value”; the moment of formation and prayer In the circle of the FMA Holiness – proposed by the General Secretariat for 30 October 2023, to feel the presence and the effectiveness of the intercession of the Sisters on their way towards canonization and to make the current situation known.
In concluding, Mother Chiara congratulates Mother Yvonne Reungoat, for her appointment as Expert and Facilitator in the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “a gesture that honors her and, in her, the entire Institute.” While thanking her for her availability, Mother assures her, on behalf of all the FMA, “the prayer, the affectionate closeness, and the commitment to gradually follow the progress of the synod’s work. Ideally, we enter the Paul VI Hall with her every day to ‘listen’ to what the Holy Spirit suggests, as in a ‘new Pentecost’, in this significant moment for the life of the Church”.