Turin (Italy). On Sunday 24 September 2023, in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin, thirteen Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and twenty-four Salesians of Don Bosco received the missionary crucifix, during the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by the Rector Major, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, with the presence of the Mother General of the FMA Institute, Sister Chiara Cazzuola, of the General Councilors for the Missions, Sister Ruth del Pilar Mora and Fr. Alfred Maravilla, various General Councilors and SDB Provincials of various nations.
Every missionary expedition since the first which took place on 11 September 1875 for the Salesians and on 14 November 1877 for the FMA, is full of great gratitude and emotion for what God has done. This is thanks to the daring and courageous availability of the Holy Founders, Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello, and of many sisters and brothers who left from the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians to reach every part of the world. As recalled at the beginning of the Celebration, this missionary sending is also a gesture with which the two Congregations renew before Mary Help of Christians their missionary commitment.
In his homily, the Rector Major underlined that, “The missionary vocation is a true vocation within the vocation in which we are all called to be missionaries among young people, girls, boys, especially the poorest. God calls many to live a particular missionary spirit ad gentes elsewhere, leaving what has been your life and ‘ad vitam’ not for two or three years… the life that is given is not bound by time”.
The tenth successor of Don Bosco continued by saying, “If Don Bosco had said there is a great need for my Salesians in the poor areas of Italy and we must go throughout Italy to take care of the children, today the greater number of us would be here. Don Bosco carried within him a fire that said ‘elsewhere there are others who don’t know Jesus and we must go.’ It is wonderful to hear that this chain of loyalty up to the 154th SDB Missionary Expedition and 146th FMA Missionary Expedition was never interrupted even during the two world wars. This means it is a mission that overcomes every difficulty”.
Addressing the new missionaries, Fr. Angel spoke with the heart of a father saying, “You are a great testimony of life for us, because you tell us that with the spirit of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello you want to go elsewhere, leave many securities to share life with those who await us or will be offered to us to serve. (…) The dynamic of the Gospel is shared life, service, and testimony and so with the expression of one’s faith, the Lord continues to arrive everywhere. We ask the Lord to bless you with a very special blessing and that this desire to serve Him as missionaries ad gentes, ad vitam is a reality that may make your hearts grow. Our prayers will not fail. (…) Today is a great day of celebration and Our Lady will undoubtedly accompany you. From this same place many brothers and sisters have left for other parts of the world. This is God’s plan and not just our strategic plan”.
After blessing the Crucifixes, the Rector Major gave them to the SDB missionaries, while Mother Chiara gave them to the FMA missionaries.
In the solemn blessing of the mandate, the Rector Major, extending his hands over the entire group of departing missionaries, pronounced the prayer of blessing which also reaches the many missionaries scattered throughout the world:
“Lord, look at these servants of Yours,
our brothers and sisters, who invested with the sign of the cross,
we send as messengers of salvation and peace.
Guide their steps with Your right hand, support them with the power of Your grace, so that they do not fail under the weight of apostolic labors.
May they have the pastoral heart of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello and may they be the paternal and maternal presence of Jesus for young people, who desires abundant life for everyone.
Give them the ability to listen, to be in solidarity with everyone, the imagination, the creativity, the apostolic courage, the patience of waiting, the enthusiasm of love.
May they be joyful signs and bearers of salvation”.
The new FMA missionaries continue their journey, preparing themselves through discernment in view of their destination, with missionary formation at the Pontifical Urbanianum University of Rome, and specific formation for the mission ad gentes, accompanied by Sister Ruth del Pilar Mora and the collaborators of the Missions Sector.
Photos: ANS e FMA