Piemonte (Italy). From 1 to 28 July 2023, thirty Temporary Professed Daughters of Mary Help of Christians from the Middle East-Europe Interprovincial Conference (CIME), from the Preprovince Mary Mother of the Church (RMC), and from other Provinces around the world, lived in Piedmont – in Mornese (AL), Nizza Monferrato (AT), Turin, and surroundings – the formative experience of the 2nd month of the Second Novitiate in preparation for Perpetual Vows.

The month was animated by Sr. Paola Casalis, of Mary Help of Christians Province (IPI); Sr. Eva Liskutinova, of Mary Immaculate Province (CEL); Sr. Cristina Festa of Our Lady of the Cenacle Province (ILS). The experience helped to recall the path traveled during the time of Temporary Profession and also, to look at life with new eyes, to continue to grasp the newness of God’s call.

The first great gift for these FMA coming from different countries of the world – Brazil, Paraguay, United States, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Ukraine, France, Spain, Italy, Madagascar, Mozambique, Togo, Ethiopia, Vietnam – was the richness of the fraternity lived together. Furthermore, the whole month was like a long pilgrimage to “to go up to the source”, to “root deeper” the vocation of Daughter of Mary Help of Christians in the Gospel.

The pilgrimage began in Mornese where the group, accompanied by Fr. Carlo Maria Zanotti, Salesian of Don Bosco, by Sr Eva and Sr Cristina, retraced and revisited the places where Mother Mazzarello and the first Sisters lived. They are places that remind us of how full of joy the journey is, but also of hardships which, however, do not make us forget the final destination towards which everyone is headed: Paradise. During the stay in Mornese, with the help of Sr. Elena Massimi, the Rite and Formula of Perpetual Profession were also explored.

The second phase was Nizza Monferrato, guided by Sr. Paola Cuccioli, from the Historical Archives, and by the Animator, Sr. Piera Cavaglià, the young FMA got to know the town of Nizza, visited the cemetery where many Daughters of Mary Help of Christians rest, including the Mother Generals, stopped, prayed, and meditated in the various places of the house. Sister Paola helped to read the different environments from a historical point of view and Sister Piera shared a profound and rich reflection on the vocational experience lived by Mother Mazzarello precisely in Nizza between the separation from Mornese and the expansion of the nascent Institute.

In the third phase, in Turin, led by Fr. Enrico Lupano, SDB, they were invited to listen to the words of the Spirit, taking on the role of the pilgrim who lets self be questioned by the places visited. In fact, the latter have become for all “sacred ground” in front of which it is necessary to “take off your shoes” because God lives there. The time spent visiting Valdocco, Turin, Colle Don Bosco, Mondonio, Cascina Moglia, Castelnuovo, Chieri, and S. Ignazio di Lanzo was an opportunity to root the religious vocation more deeply and revive the reasons for living, as Don Bosco did, the mandate for the Kingdom in favor of the poorest young people.

Lastly, the group stopped for the Spiritual Exercises at the Sanctuary of Sant’Ignazio, in the hamlet of San’Ignazio, Pessinetto (TO), the place where Don Bosco lived his Spiritual Exercises for 30 years. It was the final stage of the pilgrimage, enriched by the insights of Fr. Cristian Besso, SDB, who presented the book of Revelation with the theme “What you see, write it in a book and send it to the seven Churches” (Ap 1:11), and the dream at nine years of age (2024 is the bicentenary of the dream), a founding dream from a vocational and charismatic point of view.

During the Spiritual Exercises, the group also had the joy of meeting the General Councilor for Formation, Sister Nilza Fátima de Moraes, who stopped by for several days to personally meet the Temporary Professed and enrich the days with reflections offered in the Goodnight.

The last moment lived together by the FMA, who returned to Turin, was the evaluation of the journey. Valid indications emerged for improving and enriching the experience, and much gratitude was expressed towards each and every one.

The journey of an entire month, which began with little mutual knowledge and passed “at the speed of light”, ended with stronger relationships. The initial trepidation for the unknowns it presented turned into nostalgia for people who perhaps will never see each other again.

At the end, the FMA returned to their own communities much richer than when they arrived and with the commitment of reciprocal prayer, so that everyone can celebrate their Perpetual Profession certain of the presence of God and the support of each Sister.


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