Rome (Italy). Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sister Chiara Cazzuola, opens Circular No. 1033 recalling two experiences she recently lived: the spiritual exercises with the Provincials of America, animated and organized by the team of Project Missionary Spirituality (PEM) in the first house of the FMA in Villa Colón – Montevideo, the “Mornese” of America; and the spiritual exercises of the Provincials of the Continents Asia and Oceania, in Sam Phran, Thailand, in October.

Mother affirms that “In both experiences, awareness has grown in everyone that it is possible to see everywhere the fruitfulness of the charism, if we are docile to the voice of God who calls us to a strong witness of holiness”.

Praise God for all His creatures

Following from Circular 1032, in which she mentioned the Apostolic Exhortation, on 5 October 2023, Mother Chiara dwelt on Laudate Deum, which Pope Francis offers in continuity with the Encyclical Laudato si’. Strongly action-oriented, the document looks at the negotiations of the next COP 28 (Conference of the Parties) that will take place from 30 November to 12 December 2023 in Dubai, in the Arab Emirates, in which Pope Francis will also participate from 1 to 3 December and which “could be decisive for actions that prevent the irreversibility of climate change”.

“With courage and the ability to synthesize, the document sheds light on the current situation and the confusion generated by resistance to change, which also lead to the mystification of reality” (LD, nos. 5-19). The Conference could indeed mark a turning point on the abandonment of fossil fuels and the transition to clean energy. At COP 28, this will have to express itself in concrete objectives to end the era of fossil fuels.

Identifying the key to reading Laudate Deum in “remembering that there are no lasting changes without cultural changes, without a maturation of the way of life and of social beliefs; and there are no cultural changes without changes in people” (LD, n. 70), Mother urges the Educational Communities to ask themselves whether everything possible has been done to educate for a culture of respect and ecological conversion. “Are we growing sensitive people, critical minds, hearts grateful for the gift of creation, of which we are part?”.

Our educational contribution: citizenship and ecology

As “citizens of the world”, within a challenge that requires the contribution of all and true international cooperation, having as its objective the common good, Mother says that “we too can be an active part in these spaces of conversation, consultation, and participation. Our organizations, associations, networks, universities can be places where a conscious and firm voice can be heard for the denouncement and for the proposal.” She asks the question, “Do our networks make their voices heard? ‘Honest citizens’ today means feeling like citizens of the world, guests of a planet that welcomes us and with which we are in relationship”.

In addition to defending the planet, Mother Chiara encourages us to foster spaces for reflection and thought and “a renewed theology of creation with deep roots, a pedagogy of integral ecology, a social commitment that knows how to recognize that everything is connected”.

“As Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, we are present in the five continents and we have in our hands the most powerful and effective instrument, that of education.  We have seen it, and we see it daily, that young people are the most sensitive. With young people we can educate ourselves to a path of integral ecology, and with them, we can get to speak to governments and to the great ones of the earth”.

Mother urges the FMA to reflect on their own behavior. “How are we living our paths of ecological conversion? Are we also among those who prove sensitive, who make some gestures, but then do not have the courage to implement substantial changes when these cause inconvenience in our daily habits?

Along this line is the third choice made by GC XXIV concerning integral ecology. “Let us listen to the cry of young people, of the poor, and of the earth to make, as networked educating communities, courageous evangelical choices in the perspective of integral ecology” (Acts CG XXIV, 35.3). Let us do this together with the Chapter Deliberation, which calls upon all the FMA and the Educating Communities to undertake with determination “a concrete and continuous journey of conversion to integral ecology, adopting the seven objectives of Laudato Si’ in the spirit of the Preventive System»” (Acts GC XXIV, 36). In both, the constant is to “take integral ecology as a key aspect of the educational mission”.

Mother therefore encourages us to take on the commitment of integral ecology as an important dimension of faith, which challenges us at the personal and community levels, “because it urges us to take care of each other, beginning with our community; to give back to human relationships the due importance”.

She also maintains that Integral ecology requires a deep interior conversion that, if taken at a vital level, “will help us to be life-generating, to grow in the ability to take care not, only of children and young people in the mission, but of our communities as well”.

Lastly, she recalls how Salesian spirituality is a spirituality of relationship from the beginning and how Don Bosco’s Preventive System is born within a call to the relationship of educational care. In the “dream at nine years of age” Mary, the Teacher, invites Johnny to take care of his companions.

Mother Chiara suggests reading the magazine Da Mihi Animas with insights on the theme of integral ecology.

Mary illumines and accompanies the synodal journey

On the eve of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Mother thanked the Salesian Family Sector for the preparation of the Novena with references to the texts: For a spirituality of Synodality and A Synodal Church in mission. “We will contemplate the dynamism of Mary’s love in going to meet Elizabeth, as an image of that synodal journey of welcome, listening, joy, and sharing to which the recently concluded Synod invited us.”

She also urges that the Synthesis Report entrusted to the People of God by the first Session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Bishops Synod be studied in reflection and prayer, making its own the atmosphere of listening and dialogue that characterized the Synod and witnessing to Gospel fraternity. “It is important to collaborate at all levels for a culture of encounter, an indispensable premise for peace, and to commit ourselves to building peace is above all a work of education.”

Concluding the Circular, she invites us to pray intensely for peace during the Novena of the Immaculate Conception and in the time of Advent. “Let us implore it as the precious gift of Christmas, because Jesus is the true peace.”

Together with the sisters of the General Council, she wishes all the FMA, their families, the Educating Communities, the young people, the adolescents and children living in our Houses, a Holy Christmas of peace and hope. She also addressed a special greeting and prayer to the Cardinal and Rector Major Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, to the Salesian Confreres, and to the whole Salesian Family. She expressed her closeness to the Educating Communities living in situations of war, violence, persecution, poverty.

Circular no. 1033


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