Lubumbashi (Dem. Rep. Congo) From 13 to 21 April 2020, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the Province of Our Lady of Africa in Central Africa (AFC) lived the annual Spiritual Exercises, preached by Fr. Lambert Malungu, Salesian of Don Bosco, on the theme: “Revitalize our identity as Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, to be communities that generate life in the heart of contemporaneity.”
On 8 April 2020, the Provincial, Sr. Marie Dominique Mwema, summoned the Community Animators to communicate that all the FMA of the Province would begin the Spiritual Exercises on Easter Monday, each in their own community, due to the Covid pandemic -19, to respect social distances and guarantee the annual exercises, given the uncertainty of the future. It was an unexpected decision in the face of an unexpected reality, which led to numerous questions from the Animators on how to carry out the online conferences and create the right atmosphere for the Exercises in their Communities.
The means of communication came to their aid by making two video conferences available every day accompanied by the text and word of the Provincial. Each community respected the main moments, adapting them to its own reality. Thanks to the availability of the priests, the daily Eucharistic celebration, central moment of the Exercises, was not lacking.
In the introduction to the theme of the Exercises, Fr. Lambert expressed his intention to focus his preaching on Mary, a figure always present in the life of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello, especially during the foundation of the Congregation, emphasizing the presence of Mary as Mother and Guide of the FMA Institute.
The preacher also spoke of formation and its needs, underlining that the communities must be places of sanctification, in continuous spiritual growth, in order to bring good and holy religious totally given to Christ for the salvation of young people. This is possible only by living the sense of belonging and co-responsibility in the mission. He therefore proposed to follow the model of the Virgin Mary, who was attentive and believed in the Word of God, allowing great things to be accomplished for all humanity.
On the final day, Fr. Lambert Malungu spoke about the mission, with the mandate to be prophetic and missionary all over the world for young people and especially in the communities, from which to draw strength, energy, and courage to bear witness to Christ in the contemporary world. For this reason, it is necessary to return to the spirit of the origins, the spirit of Valdocco and Mornese, continuing to let ourselves be guided by the Founders.
The provincial, Sister Marie Dominique Mwema, concluded the Exercises by thanking the Lord first of all, who gave the opportunity to live this moment of intense union with Him, in this time of isolation. She then thanked the FMA who gladly accepted the sudden invitation with a spirit of faith and Fr. Lambert, for their availability and flexibility. Finally, she asked everyone to continue, through meditation and daily adoration, to invoke the healing of Covid-19 patients and the end of this pandemic.