Rome (Italy). Mary Domenica Mazzarello, a strong resilient woman is the title of the volume published in March 2023 in the series Paths of the Study Center on the FMA, at the Palumbi publishing house, containing the study carried out by Eliane Anschau Petri, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians. The reflection focuses on the experience of Mary Domenica Mazzarello, Mother and Co-foundress of the FMA Institute.

Today there is a lot of talk about resilience. This attitude indicates a person’s ability to experience difficulties without being overwhelmed, with the awareness of being able to face problematic and complex situations by deploying one’s own resources. The need to cultivate it as an attitude of life and to deepen this theme is felt everywhere. Already in General Chapter XXIII, the need to “cultivate resilience was explicitly affirmed: to be strong in faith, in solidarity in difficulties, and in the challenge of bearing witness” (see Programming of the General Council 2015-2020, 11).

 Mother Chiara Cazzuola, Superior General of the FMA Institute, writes in the preface of the book:

“This text was born from the desire to offer a reflection on the theme of resilience, which is so topical today. This through serious research starting from the existence of St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello, highlights how much this fully human attitude is present in her life, even if the term resilience does not appear. As Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, we are invited by General Chapter XXIV to allow ourselves to be formed in the resilience that generates life, where the Lord calls us today to express the richness of the Mornese charism. We are living in an unprecedented historical time, which asks us to be wholly ourselves, with clarity of vocational identity, doing what we have to do with new apostolic passion. It is an invitation to take up this mission in the Church and in society with a serious, important, and convinced commitment.”

The first part of Sr. Eliane Petri’s reflection aims to deepen the study of the resilience and fortitude in the life of Mary Domenica Mazzarello. It is a question of clarifying the meaning of the word resilience: the resilient experience in the Bible, in theological reflection, in pedagogy and its contextualization in the dynamics of grace. After that, we move on to reflect on Mary Domenica’s strong and resilient human-spiritual experience: the fundamental ways and moments; the protective factors, that is, the experiences, people, and institutions that helped to develop resilience in her. Finally, we look at her as a witness and teacher of resilience, trying to highlight some guidelines in terms of updating: how can we form ourselves in this virtue today?

The second part aims to be a resource for personal and community reflection around the theme of resilience starting from the experience of Mary Domenica Mazzarello. Some outlines for reflection are proposed that review the sources on the Saint of Mornese, with a view to sharing.

The hope is that this publication may be a stimulus to form ourselves to resilience and be “prophetic presences” to generate life where the Lord calls us to live the mission of consecrated women educators.


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