Equatorial Africa. From 25 July to 6 August 2022, the Mother General Emeritus of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Yvonne Reungoat, visited the Province of St. Mary D. Mazzarello of Equatorial Africa (AEC).
Mother Yvonne was welcomed at the international airport of Yaoundé, Cameroon, by Sr. Leen Mestaght, the outgoing Provincial; by Sr. Veracruz Roca Botey, the new Provincial; by the Provincial Council, and some Animators. Subsequently, she received the welcome of the young women in formation of the Community of St. Maria D. Mazzarello of Yaoundé.
Her return to the AEC Province was a source of great joy for the FMA, who prepared and lived this province event with faith, and also for the Salesians of Don Bosco and the other members of the Salesian Family. In fact, Sr. Yvonne Reungoat, on 5 August 1995, then Provincial of Mother of God Province (AFO), had arranged for a group of FMA to be sent on mission to open the presence in Yaoundé.
On 26 July, accompanied by some FMA, she went to Bafia, to the Community of Mary Help of Christians. There she met the young women in formation and visited this community that she did not know yet, the second largest in Cameroon.
Starting from the evening of 27 July, Mother Yvonne held the Spiritual Exercises for about forty FMA on the theme “With Mary, generators of love because generated by love.” Her talks helped the Sisters to re-read their personal and vocational history from the point of view of God’s regenerating love. Christ’s love for each one and for the FMA Institute is faithful and life-giving at every moment.
The retreat days ended with the renewal of the religious vows of the Temporary Professed of the Province and with the installation of Sr. Vera Cruz Roca Botey as the new Provincial of the AEC Province.
The celebration began with the procession of some Sisters dressed in African colors with the hymn “Mary is here” to recall that Mary always walks with the FMA. The Word of God that illuminated the celebration was from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor 3: 4-11), in which Paul emphasizes the action of God in building His kingdom: each plays the role assigned by God, but the cornerstone is Jesus Himself.
The first moment of the celebration consisted of gratitude to Sr. Leen Mestdagh for her availability during the last six years. In a second passage, the history of the AEC Province was recalled, from the choice of Mother Antonia Colombo and her Council of Sr. Lucia Cargnoni to accompany the nascent Province erected on 10 August 2004; to the request of Mother Yvonne Reungoat and her advice to Sr. Luisa Moscoso in 2010 to continue to make the ‘little plant’ grow; to the appointment of Sr. Leen Mestdagh in 2016; to arrive at that of Sr. Veracruz Roca Botey by Mother Chiara Cazzuola and her Council.
For this reason, during the ceremony there was the passing of the baton from Mother Yvonne, through Sr. Lucia Cargnoni and Sr. Leen Mestdagh, to Sr. Veracruz. The symbols present were the earth, the seed, and the plant. The Charism was sown in the land of the AEC Province, today made up of 5 nations: Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Chad.
The various Provincials took care of this little plant in a land of hope. Sr. Veracruz is called to accompany the growth of this plant. With this meaning, the former Provincials present gave her a plant. At the end of the celebration, Mother Yvonne Reungoat gave the new Provincial a picture of Mary Help of Christians, assuring her of Mary’s presence and accompaniment.
Sr. Veracruz was then welcomed with joy by the Sisters who promised her their prayers and their fraternity, while she expressed her willingness to accompany each Sister.
The solemn celebration of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the FMA Institute took place on 5 August 2022. The Eucharistic celebration was presided over by Msgr. Jean Mbarga, Metropolitan Archbishop of Yaoundé, and concelebrated by a dozen diocesan and Salesian priests of Don Bosco. During this solemn expression of gratitude, which united the Province to the whole Institute, Mother Yvonne Reungoat received the Perpetual Vows of Sr. Lyse Claudia Samba. The attentive and fraternal presence of the Superior emerita enriched these festivities.
After the celebration of this jubilee, Mother Yvonne participated in the opening of the Provincial Assembly. On 8 August she left for Abidjan, in the Ivory Coast, for the visit to the Province “Mother of God” (AFO).
Before taking up her pilgrim’s staff again, Mother Yvonne urged the Sisters to love the mission, to be united, and to take care of their interior life, an essential condition for being, like Mary, a life-giving presence.
The visit of Mother Yvonne Reungoat was an experience of grace for the Sisters of the AEC Province. Everyone was able to experience her goodness and closeness through her profound interventions and her unconditional availability to listen.
Que regalo de Dios para la provincia, adelante a seguir generando vida.