Manaus (Brazil). On 23 February 2024, on the occasion of the closing celebration of the Centenary of the arrival of the FMA in the Amazon, the Province of Our Lady of the Amazon (BRM) welcomed the Superior General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Chiara Cazzuola.

Waiting for her at night at the airport of Manaus were the Provincial, Sister Carmelita Conceição, a representation of the FMA of five communities, Salesian Cooperators, Past Pupils, and other Groups of the Salesian Family, with the flags of belonging.

In the morning, Mother Chiara was received at the Mornese Spirituality Center for the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Cardinal Leonardo Steiner, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Manaus, concelebrated by Fr. Daniel Cunha, SDB, with the presence of FMA, Past Pupils, representatives of the Salesian Family and the Manaus Works.

On 24 February, the second day of Mother’s Visit began with the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Fr. Felipe Bauziere, Provincial of the Salesians of Saint Domenico Savio Province (BMA). In harmony with the whole Institute, the Sisters of the Provincial Community, the representatives of the Past Pupils, and two Sisters of the Congregation of the Daughters of Saint Anne celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Caterina Daghero into heaven.

The Celebration had two significant moments. At the beginning there was the blessing of a commemorative plaque in honor of the FMA offered by the Federation of FMA Past Pupils, and at the end, the blessing of Mary Help of Christians on travelers, in particular, on Mother Chiara who for the first-time flies over the Amazon to reach the place of origins in this region. Mother Chiara and the Provincial, Sister Carmelita Conceição, then headed to the airport in the direction of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, where they were welcomed by the FMA, Salesian Cooperators, SDB Past Pupils full of joy for the arrival of Mother.

In Mary Help of Christians House of São Gabriel de Cachoeira, the young aspirants sang a welcome in “toucan”, the mother tongue of some indigenous peoples, and offered her a headdress, symbol of leadership and government among indigenous peoples, necklaces and local handicrafts made by women who attend the social work of the “Uka Suri”, which means “happy girl”. Subsequently, Mother participated in an Amazonian Luminous Rosary, in which she was invited to wash her hands in a basin with water taken from the Rio Negro, to contemplate the baptism of Jesus and pray for the Amazonian peoples and the mission of the FMA in the sacred waters of this region. With her were present the Provincial, Sister Carmelita Conceição, and the Bishop of the Diocese, Msgr. Raimundo Vanthui.

On 25 February, in Our Lady Aparecida Chapel, the Perpetual Profession of the young indigenous FMA, Sister Aldiana Moreira Cordeiro, was celebrated in the hands of the Superior General of the Institute, Mother Chiara Cazzuola. The Eucharistic celebration was presided over by the Bishop, Msgr. Raimundo Vanthuy and concelebrated by Bishop Emeritus Msgr. Edson Damian, by the Salesians, and by other priests of the Diocese.

The ceremony was characterized by rites and dances of indigenous people from different communities along the river near São Gabriel. At the end, addressing Sister Aldiana, Mother urged the FMA to “be joyful, merciful, and humble, at the service of everyone in the mission.”

On the day of 26 February, Mother experienced missionary life in the Amazon, sailing along the river to visit the indigenous people who inhabit the island of Duraka, in the community of Camanaus, near São Gabriel da Cachoeira. Upon her arrival, there was a great feast to welcome the important guest. Later, at the Community Center, children, teenagers, and families continued to celebrate with traditional dances and sharing the typical local cuisine. Before returning to São Gabriel, Mother addressed a message to the people on the Bicentenary of the Dream at 9 years of Don Bosco and distributed to everyone a medal of Mary Help of Christians.

On her return to São Gabriel da Cachoeira, she visited the Educating Communities of two schools coordinated by the FMA in the city: the São Gabriel State School and the Adana Children’s School. After the encounter with students of the Schools and with the Educating Communities, Mother Chiara visited the city cemetery where some of the first Sisters who came from other countries to carry out the mission in the Amazon are buried. Finally, she reached the exact place where the first FMA arrived in São Gabriel from Cachoeira, on 16 February 1923.

In the evening, Mother welcomed the young Vanderleia, belonging to the indigenous Piratapuia, who received the Aspirant medal from her hands. In the Eucharistic Celebration, presided by the Bishop Emeritus, Msgr. Edson Damian, also commemorated was the centenary of the birth of Mother Catarina Daghero into heaven.

On 27 February, the morning began with Holy Mass presided by Msgr. Raimundo Vanthuy in the auditorium of the Adana Kindergarten. After the Mass, Mother spoke to the FMA of the communities present in São Gabriel da Cachoeira. At the end, a Dabucuri was held, the indigenous festive rite for the bestowal of gifts to Mother. In the early afternoon, Mother Chiara and the Provincial, Sister Carmelita Conceição, returned to the Provincial House in Manaus where, together with the Provincial, she was welcomed by the Provincial House Community, Maria Madalena Lima Clemente Center, and the FMA of Rorainópolis.

The Visit continued on 28 February, with Mother’s meeting with the Communities of Manaus: “Being a Vocational Community Today – The Joy of One’s Vocation”, transmitted in direct streaming, and with the closing Eucharistic celebration of the centenary of the presence of the FMA in the Amazon presided over by Dom Joaquim Hudson de Souza Ribeiro, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Manaus. (direct streaming)

At the end of the Celebration, Past Pupils and the other groups of the Salesian Family expressed heartfelt gratitude for Mother’s visit. The moment ended with a festive dinner.

The day of 29 February opened with the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Fr. Francisco Alves de Lima, former Salesian Provincial.  Mother then met the Provincial Council and had lunch with the Oásis São José Community of the elderly sisters, who welcomed her with great affection and joy. In the late afternoon, she went to the Amazonas Theater, one of the most important theaters in Brazil, representative of the city of Manaus, where she attended the show, “Mother Mazzarello yesterday and today”, made by the children and girls of Casa Mamma Margherita, a social work that welcomes girls in situations of hardship. With songs, choreography, and acting, they presented the story of Mother Mazzarello until the arrival of the first FMA in Amazonia.

On 1 March at night, Mother is accompanied by the Provincial Sister Carmelita Conceição, the FMA of the Council and the provincial team to the airport of Manaus, departing for Belo Horizonte where the Seminar will be held “For a generative animation” for the Inter-Provincial Conference of Brazil (CIB).

In all the places she visited, great was the gratitude of the FMA, the young, the laity, the Salesians, all the members of the Salesian Family, and the Bishops for the presence of Mother Chiara who reached them in a distant land, where she was able to admire the beauty, to share with them the joy and gratitude for the gift of the Charism.

Photos: Flickr FMA


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