Madrid (Spain). On 3 January 2021, the FMA Communities of Mary Help of Christians Province (SPA), in the context of the second year of preparation for the 150th anniversary of the FMA Institute took part in an online meeting animated by Sr. Alaide Deretti, World Councilor for the Missions, on the theme: “New mission frontiers in the Institute”.
In the introductory part, Sr. Alaide showed the missionary face of the FMA Institute, even in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic. From its origins, the Institute accepted the missionary mandate of Jesus: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). In the Letters of Mother Mazzarello, who would have liked to go to the missions, we read about her missionary ardor and specific attention to the FMA of the first expeditions. In her presentation, Sister Alaide Deretti shared some experiences that make visible how the Institute today tries to respond to the new situations generated by the pandemic.
The Councilor for the Missions then outlined the current missionary expansion of the Institute, making known the most significant foundations in response to situations of vulnerability, and others in the process of opening: the presences in Nepal, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, the new Community in the Democratic Republic of Congo, FMA attention to the migrants in Mexico on the border with the United States, and in Thailand on the border with Myanmar.
The presentation of some significant figures of missionaries ad/inter gentes was the content of the afternoon session, with the profiles of FMA like Sister Carolina Mazzarello, great-grandniece of Madre Mazzarello, a missionary for more than 40 years in Chile; of Sister Carla Baietta, who died at the age of 103 after spending her life for 74 years in the missions, 6 in Portugal and 68 in Mozambique; of Sister Nancy Pereira, Sister Amparo Carbonell, and Sister Carmen Moreno. All Daughters of Mary Help of Christians who, in their own land or in distant lands, had the sensitivity and availability to encounter others, making the teachings of Jesus visible with their witness. This is highlighted in account of the experience of Sister Nicolina Viano, FMA, missionary in India, who was asked:
How did you draw people to Christ there? Smiling, she replied: “I almost never spoke directly of Jesus. I waited for them to ask me about Him. When in hospitals, in leprosy centers, in hours of suffering, people find a Sister who carries out a humble service, they feel the charm of the living Christ. Today more than ever I live on the streets of the world. Then one asks you: ‘Tell me about your God’; and another: ‘Your God must be very good if you are always so sweet and patient’; and another: ‘Help me, I want to go to the heaven of your God’. Is it precisely the witness of charity that illuminates the path? “Yes”, replied Sister Nicolina Viano. (From the Salesian Bulletin – 1 February 1979)
Sr. Alaide Deretti concluded her presentation by offering best wishes to the communities of the SPA Province:
“Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2,5). Let us allow ourselves to be guided by Mary, the first to be evangelized and to evangelize. She opens us to a new missionary dynamism. The dynamism that helps young people to live the encounter with Jesus so that they in turn may be missionaries, protagonists of evangelization, of the proclamation of Jesus to other young people. How beautiful it is when young people become “travelers of faith” (EG n. 106), happy to take Jesus to every street, to every square, to every corner of the earth!
We hope to live with enthusiasm a new missionary breath in our daily mission, so that nothing can steal our missionary enthusiasm, “the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing” (EG n.10).