Rome (Italy). At the opening of Circular No. 1018, the Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, expresses her gratitude for the many expressions of affection and closeness received on the occasion of the World Feast of Gratitude, which took place from 24 to 26 April 2022 in Turin, Mornese, Nizza Monferrato, places of origin, on the 150th anniversary of the Institute’s foundation.
Taking up the articles of the Constitutions, she then reflects on the missionary dimension, an essential element of the identity of the Institute (cf. C 75). As expressed in art. 6, Don Bosco gave the FMA Institute a strong missionary impulse, assumed in an original and creative way by Mother Mazzarello.
Mother Chiara describes the missionary spirit as an impulse of apostolic daring which is transformed for the FMA “into educational passion and in the search for a constant vital renewal, moved by the joy of the Gospel,” which should be experienced by each “as a natural dimension of life”.
Describing the apostolic tension of the first communities of Valdocco and Mornese, made of the “ability to adapt to everything, up to the extreme sacrifice, without seeking oneself or protagonism”, as a “joyful and austere model of life that is built day by day in availability without limits and without hesitation,” highlights the cetera tolle as a fundamental aspect of the missionary dimension and underlines:
“Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello teach us that the ardor of the da mihi animas cannot be expressed without the realism of the cetera tolle. Hence the secret of its fecundity”.
In addition to being an essential element of the identity of the Institute, as recalled by art. 75 of the Constitutions, the missionary dimension is also an expression of its universality, present in its history since its origins, so important because “it nourishes the awareness of belonging to a religious family open to various nations, without barriers of language or culture,” it opens to experiences with broad and universal horizons and increases “the responsibility of everyone to share in the life of the Institute and its continuous expansion in the world”.
Gratitude to the first missionaries who, “animated by great missionary fervor were ready to face every sacrifice and difficulty to proclaim the Gospel in places unknown to them.” They knew how to immerse themselves in the culture and needs of the people they met, which “today continues to inspire our educational mission and to renew missionary zeal wherever we are”.
Hence, Mother’s invitation to a new “missionary outgoing”:
“Each community is asked to discern the missionary path the Lord opens up before them and everyone is invited to undertake this journey with generosity; to leave our own comforts to reach the peripheries that need the light of the Gospel”.
She then underlines the importance of a journey undertaken together, as a Community, with attention to all, without leaving anyone behind, and without closing in on comfortable relationships. “Whoever truly proclaims does not seek escapes from the world or from the community”.
The special anniversary that is being experienced as an Institute is for all the Communities the foundation of a renewed missionary zeal:
“The new wine of the charism, which for 150 years has nourished the vocational fruitfulness of the Institute, empowers the joy and amazement of the call to be missionary communities. It urges us still to be ‘Mornese outgoing’, communities that proclaim Jesus with their lives, that take on the challenges of change, and bear witness to the evangelical values; that take on the various forms of poverty present in the existential and geographical peripheries” (Cf Acts GC XXIV, n. 26).
Recalling the experience of the XXIV General Chapter, Mother reminds us of the priority choice of missionary synodality as a lifestyle, which urges us to listen to and respond to the missionary mandate of Jesus, “Go and make disciples of all people” discovering, in that “go”, “the ever-new scenarios and challenges of our educational mission” to be, without fear, a Church outgoing.
Mother Chiara concludes the Circular invoking the help of Mary Help of Christians and peace for all humanity in these difficult times, and assuring prayer in the Basilica in Turin on the solemnity of May 24, in which she will entrust the desire of all FMA to be “Mornese outgoing” in joy and with a missionary heart.