Shillong (India). From 2 to 5 June 2022, at the Outreach retreat center of Mary Help of Christians Community of Bellefonte, Shillong, a meeting was held for young women in formation from Immaculate Heart of Mary Province (INS).
19 Aspirants, 9 Postulants, and 32 Novices participated in the meeting, organized by the Provincial Formation Team with the desire to offer young people significant moments of relationship. The Provincial, Sr. Elizabeth George, and the Formators of the various Houses of Formation accompanied them at various times.
“Rooted and founded in Jesus Christ, steadfast in faith” (Col 2:7) is the theme that guided the days, marked by well-prepared and animated liturgical celebrations, creative and dynamic recreations, insights, round tables, group work, and the pilgrimage to the first House of the Province.
Various Daughters of Mary Help of Christians from the Province intervened with reports on formative topics, such as the beauty and wonder of God’s call, Youth Ministry and its contemporary challenges, digital spaces and ethics, female empowerment, and time management.
The organizers animated various games to stimulate the young women to recognize and exploit the talents given to them by God. Through group dynamics, they were motivated to develop their skills, such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, team spirit, time management, etc.
The round table on the theme “Hopes and expectations of those who aspire to Consecrated Life” consisted in listening to four representatives of each stage of formation who expressed their experiences and dreams with simplicity and joy, arousing the attention and interest of the young women in formation.
The culmination of the meeting was the pilgrimage to the Saint Mary D. Mazzarello House in Jowai, West Jaintia Hills, the first House of the Province founded in 1926. The sisters, boarders, and members of the Educating Community warmly welcomed the group and offered them lunch.
For many of them, it was the first visit to this significant work, which hosted the pioneering FMA and from which the charism spread to the rest of the Region. The young women were amazed by the work done by God through the hard work of the missionaries and other FMA, who faced sacrifices and challenges of all kinds, making the mission fruitful.
The Community currently takes care of 102 boarders from the College, a 2nd level High School, a Night School for day workers, the parish ministry, visits to families, Salesian Cooperators and Past Pupils.
After lunch, the young women in formation had a meeting with the boarders, to whom they brought their vocational testimony, sharing the Salesian joy and the spirit of Mother Mazzarello through a short scene with songs and dances that aroused in some the desire to become FMA.
The meeting days were characterized by a joyful family spirit and a sense of belonging to the Institute. There was an atmosphere of familiarity and at the end, all the young women confirmed that it was an unforgettable experience of hope and joy.