Turin (Italy). On 24 May 2024, the Superior General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, experienced the celebrations of the Solemnity of Mary Help of Christians in Valdocco.

Having arrived in Turin on 20 May to participate in the World Consulta of the Salesian Family, with the presence of the Rector Major, Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime, and with the General Councilor for the Salesian Family, Sister Leslie Sándigo, she was able to experience the celebrations in honor of Our Lady and, in the following days, visit the homes of the elderly or sick sisters of Mary Help of Christians Province (IPI).

They were intense days, full of deep moments of prayer, invocations to the Virgin, and fraternal encounters. Present from Rome were the FMA missionaries of the Ongoing Formation Course and the new missionaries with Sister Ruth del Pilar Mora, General Councilor for the Missions, and the Sector collaborators, the students of Mother Ersilia Canta House of Mary Mother of the Church Preprovince (RMC) with their teachers, the young people of the Assessment and Guidance Period of Mary Most Holy Consoler Community, with their formators, who were joined on 24 May, by the FMA participating in the Consulta of the Salesian Youth Movement. There were also the FMA residing in Turin and the surrounding area who flocked to the Basilica to celebrate the praises of Mary.

The salient moments of these days were the celebration of First and Second Vespers; the Eucharistic Celebration on the 24th, presided over by the Archbishop of Turin, Monsignor Roberto Repole, who expressed himself as follows in the initial greeting:

“You know that I very willingly return here to the Sanctuary of Mary Help of Christians due to a personal debt I have towards Don Bosco and the Salesian Family.  However, I believe that as a Bishop, I understand more and more that we have various debts as Church that is in Turin towards Don Bosco, not only for what he was, but today we see him clearly in this Solemnity, for what he helped us to see: Mary who is truly the help, the help of all Christians. He helped us see how much we need to be cared for and accompanied in our lives.”

In the evening, the Basilica welcomed all the pilgrims for a Marian moment, replacing the Solemn Procession which was blocked by the heavy rain, together with a lot of hail. The prayer was presided over by Fr. Stefano Martoglio, Vicar of the Rector Major.

The local institutions were represented by the banners and the presence of the Vice-Mayor of Turin, Michela Favaro, and various civil and military authorities. The celebration was preceded by the performance of the Fanfare of the 3rd Carabinieri Regiment of Lombardy. Mother Chiara Cazzuola, with Sister Emma Bergandi, IPI Provincial, and numerous FMA, prayed intensely together with the People of God.

Furthermore, the goodnight on evening of the Vigil, May 23, at the headquarters of the IPI Province, was significant in which Mother Chiara reached all the FMA in the world in live streaming.

The Provincial, Sister Emma Bergandi, greeting Mother, offered her a gift of an image of Mary on metal, explaining that it is very special: “It has been in one of ours until now, in a little corner not even in sight, in a very hidden way. And so, this makes us think of it as one of the many signs in our homes that remind us of Mary’s discreet and daily presence close to us. And then there is this other peculiarity. We don’t know where it comes from; we don’t know who the author is because there is no signature. This leads us to think that it was certainly the work of someone whom Our Lady loved very much and who loved her in a discreet way. She wanted all the attention to be on her and not on the artist’s signature. This is the love for Mary that we want to have and which is certainly very much alive in the Institute.”

“It’s a grace to be here; it could become a tradition, but every year it’s new. Because it truly arises from the desire to meet our Mother. And it is always very beautiful to enter the Basilica, to be able to hand everything over to Her and feel a profound peace, a profound serenity.” After thanking her for the gift, Mother spoke about Don Bosco’s dream at 9 years and Mary’s motherhood. She then quoted Pope Francis saying:

“Mary is a Mother very close and who never loses sight of us. We have this certainty that Mary is with us; she accompanies our life; she accompanies us personally and never abandons us, ever. It may be that we are distracted at some point. But She never gets distracted. She is a real mother who never loses sight of us. Don Bosco wanted us to feel this way, but he wanted something more for us. Or rather, he wanted us to really be daughters, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians… The mother generates her daughter and not only physically. She generates her in spirit and in the ability to face life, in the ability to be another person, different from her, but who carries within her the mother’s traits. This is what Don Bosco thought.”

She then indicated the way to be ‘helpers’ for young people:

“We are sent to young people. They are first; they are the ones who expect us to give them real help, which is not just physical help. It is help to defeat material poverty, hunger, and the thirst for knowledge, education etc., but also this orientation to Jesus. We are Salesians, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Our first commitment is to educate by evangelizing and evangelize by educating. No one must take this away from us, neither from our minds, nor from our hearts, nor from our lives.

In concluding, she addressed a wish to all the FMA and young people in formation, “Thus, we have the task of generating God in the hearts of the young… this is the best way to celebrate Mary Help of Christians. Ask Her to really help us not to be afraid, not to be scared, to have courage. Read inside the explicit and hidden questions of our children, of our young people. Even the sisters, because the Preventive System begins by being first of all a way of living, of sharing communion, and it begins in the family spirit that we are all called to live in the community.”


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