Rome (Italy). The Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, in Circular No. 1014, shares with the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians the reflection in preparation for the official celebration of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute, which she is carrying out with the sisters of the General Council.
Mother recalls the Spirituality Days of the Salesian Family which took place from 13 to 16 January 2021 and the Strenna of the Rector Major, centered on the figure of Saint Francis de Sales, as an opportunity to deepen the fundamental aspects of Salesian spirituality at their origins, in harmony with the path to the 150th.
“Let us go forward with a big and generous heart” (L 47,12)
Mother Chiara recalls the beginnings of the journey with Circular no. 989, in which Mother Yvonne Reungoat and the General Council invited the Institute to live a three-year period in preparation for the celebration of this great event marked by three stages:
- 2019-2020 Giving thanks: “Let us really thank the Lord who gives us so many graces” (L 37,10).
- 2020-2021 Accepting a mandate: “I entrust them to you”.
- 2021-2022 Planning the future with daring: “Courage! Let us go forward with a big and generous heart” (L 47,12).
“Involve the educating communities, in particular the young people, in rediscovering Mary Domenica Mazzarello in her identity as a young woman and in the prophetic dimensions of her spirituality and mission”, was “and remains” the intent of this journey to celebrate together, “The generative power of Don Bosco’s charism, lived in the feminine in a creative and genial way by Mother and the first communities, together with the young women and lay collaborators in Mornese and Nizza Monferrato.”
The situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has put the whole of humanity to the test and still persists, requires the FMA Institute to “accept the challenges of contemporaneity in order to boldly plan the future and, in this context, live the event of the 150th anniversary as an opportunity for renewal and vocational and missionary revitalization.”
The certainty of the presence of Mary Help of Christians, the strength of Mother Mazzarello’s words, “Courage! Let us go forward with a big and generous heart” (L 47,12), and the invitation of Pope Francis in his visit to the Chapter members on 22 October 2021, “not to forget the grace of the origins”, encourage us to live the months of preparation for 5 August as a special time of grace.
“The Institute will have a great future if you keep yourselves simple, por, and mortified”
The current context requires a review of the modalities of presence as they were intended on the previous great anniversaries, with moments of festivities and solemn celebrations on the “Salesian sacred places”, to which multitudes of people flocked. The FMA, “as consecrated women and educators, daughters of dreamers, have the vital task of knowing how to understand the change in the era that is taking place and be protagonists together with the educating communities.”
The transmission of the XXIV General Chapter, which took place in the Provinces and is taking place with positive echoes, requires, as a fundamental step for making priority choices to be declined in the various contexts, to re-appropriate the prophecy of presence, assumed by Don Bosco and by Mother Mazzarello and handed over to the FMA with the Salesian charism. “Presence that for the Institute in this historical moment, is solid ongoing formation, missionary synodality, listening to the cry of the poor and of the earth from the point of view of integral ecology.”
In this regard, Mother encourages the care of the inner life in daily practice, to qualify oneself for the prophecy of presence within every “today” and “to value with more awareness the moments of ordinary formation such as the community encounter, the good night, the monthly retreats, the personal conversation to deepen Salesian spirituality and reread the past as the root of the present that illuminates the future.”
She also invites the Provinces and the individual FMA Communities to hold on 5 August 2022, or at another appropriate time, a special celebration to renew the “yes” of fidelity to the Covenant of love with God, as a sign of communion of the entire Institute, and of witness for young people and the Educating Communities.
The International Conference, organized by the Pontifical Faculty of Education “Auxilium” and promoted by the General Council, will be held in Rome (25-30 September 2022) on the theme: Contribution of the FMA to education (1872-2022). Paths, Challenges, and Perspectives is a further opportunity to revitalize the joy and awareness of the relevance of the educational charism of the Founders.
In noting the fruitfulness and creativity of initiatives, celebrations, and encounters actualized in local realities, Mother also urges us to create community experiences of coexistence and to strengthen the capacity to welcome young people, so that they feel that the Institute is “home” for them, and the availability of the FMA to walk together. She also encourages us to foresee a youth feast at community or provincial level, so that the young people feel that they can be protagonists in giving a young face to the Charism today.
With the quotations from John’s Gospel “the Mother of Jesus was there” (Jn 2: 1) and her echo in the Constitutions, “Mary is actively present in our life and in the history of the Institute” (cf. C 44), Mother Chiara reminds all the FMA “of the special presence of Mary in the Institute and her powerful help”, which encourage them to go forward with enthusiasm on the journey, feeling “accompanied, preceded, guided by Her.”