Porto Viro (Italy).  On 8 October 2023 in Porto Viro, in the province of Rovigo, Blessed Maria Romero Meneses Community of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of St. Mary D. Mazzarello Province (ITV) opened.

Present at this day of celebration were Sister Maria Ausilia De Siena, General Councilor for Communication of the FMA Institute; the Provincial of ITV Province, Sister Antonella Franchini with her Council; and numerous FMA from the various communities of the Province.

The Salesians of Don Bosco were present: the Provincial of St. Mark Province (INE) Fr.  Igino Biffi; the Director of the Salesian Community of Porto Viro, Fr. Gianluca Brisotto, with his Community; and some SDBs from the nearby community of Chioggia. Members of the local Salesian Family also participated in the celebration, together with the young people of the Oratory and around sixty young people, in their first meeting of the year of the vocational paths of discernment of the Triveneto Salesian Youth Movement. Chiara Bovolenta and Liliana Marangon were also present at the Eucharistic Celebration, representing the Municipal Administration.

The opening of this FMA Community was born from the dream of some young people who attend the Salesian Oratory San Giusto in Porto Viro. In 2014, they wrote a letter to the Provincial asking strongly for the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in their reality. While recognizing the Salesians as great points of reference, they expressed the desire to also have consecrated women, in order to have a concrete and direct comparison with female figures. In a passage of the letter they write, “it is a great dream that we carry in our hearts and we are no longer able to contain it”.

Thus began a long journey of discernment shared with the Salesian confreres which led to the opening of the Community. The Sisters will serve in pastoral activities in the parish and in the Diocese of Chioggia; will collaborate with the Salesians in the Youth Center Oratory; and will be involved in teaching religion in the primary and secondary school.

The Eucharistic Celebration, animated by the young people of the Oratory, was presided over by the Vicar of the Bishop of Chioggia, Msgr. Simone Zocca, who expressed his joy for the beauty of the moment he was experiencing, referring to the experience of the disciples on the Mount Tabor. He added during the homily that, “The opening of a religious community is a sign of hope”.

At the end of the Celebration, the word was given to Sister Maria Ausilia and Fr. Igino. The communication from Mother Chiara Cazzuola, Superior General of the FMA Institute, was read by the Provincial, with this the new Religious Community was created. The joy manifested itself with a long and heartfelt applause and with visible emotion on the part of the young people who had expressed their dream.

Sister Maria Ausilia De Siena then handed over to the nascent Community composed of three FMA, Sister Alessandra Spinazzè, Sister Laura Carta, and Sister Norma the biography of Sister Maria Romero, leaving the advice to “remain open to the Holy Spirit who every day indicates the steps to take; then invites us to look at a broad horizon; not to be in a hurry for ‘everything at once’.”  She concluded by stating, “the testimony of people who manage to create fraternal communities is the most beautiful thing we can give to young people.”

Fr. Igino Biffi highlighted that the arrival of the Salesian Sisters in Porto Viro strengthens the presence of the Salesian Family as dreamed by Don Bosco. The celebrations continued, first in the parish square with a toast for all those present, and then in the Oratory, with lunch prepared by the young people and offered to the FMA, the Salesians, and the invited young people.

The words of the new Animator, Sister Alessandra, demonstrate the desire to be a Community that takes care of fraternity, accompanying each other in loving each other, in order to be able to love the people around them. It thus expresses the inclusion in an existing educational reality and collaboration with the Salesians. “We would like, together with the Salesians and the lay people, to respond to the requests and needs that exist and to be there with our particular trait, the trait of women who relate to everyone and act as a bridge with people”.

Recognizing that the reality of the Salesian Oratory requires making oneself available to anyone who enters, Sister Alessandra concluded by recounting the initial challenge that they face as a Community, that is, “getting to know the people, getting to know the groups that are there to engage in dialogue with them and to try together to reach out to those in need”.


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