Nizza Monferrato (Italy). On 27 October 2021 the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, with the Vicar Fr. Stefano Martoglio and 12 SDB Provincials from four continents, visited for the first time the Our Lady of Grace Institute in Nizza Monferrato (Asti ) of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the Province of Mary Help of Christians (IPI), Mother House of the FMA Institute after the transfer from the House of foundation in Mornese.
The visit of Don Bosco’s 10th successor is significant, as it takes place in the year of the 150th anniversary of the first arrival of the Holy Founder in Nizza Monferrato, on 21 August 1871. The destination is also an opportunity for charismatic study and spiritual pilgrimage for the SDB Provincials to Turin from 19 to 28 October for the half-term formation with the Rector Major.
The first meeting after the arrival, was with the young people of the Professional Formation of the Beautician Course of the CIOFS-FP and with the Formators, who illustrated the formation path to enter into the world of work.
Sr. Paola Cuccioli, director of the Historical Archives of the IPI Province and member of the Association of Salesian History Curators (ACSSA), then led the visit to the main sites of what was the Generalate of the FMA Institute until 1929, with hints of historical events, Salesian spirituality, works of art, and the education of young women: the Chapel of the Sacred Heart, the former eighteenth-century Franciscan convent, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace, the Historical Archive, the bedroom of Mother Mazzarello
The Eucharistic Celebration in the Sanctuary, with the presence of the Mayor of Nizza Monferrato, some members of the Municipal Administration, members of the Salesian Family, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Past Pupils, and citizens was the heart of the day.
The Rector Major and about thirty concelebrants, including the parish priest of Nizza Monferrato, Fr. Paolino Siri, were welcomed by the entrance song ‘Giù dai colli’, performed by the Don Bosco Choir and by the children’s and youth choir of the Institute of “Our Lady of Grace” and by the words of the Animator of the FMA Community, Sr. Nanda Filippi: “Don Bosco is here! Welcome back dearest Father, in the person of Fr. Ángel Artime, 10th successor of Don Bosco!”.
Remembering the first arrival of the Founder, the Animator recalled how the FMA and the small town of Nizza were witnesses to God’s plan for the Salesian charism. After the arrival of Mother Mazzarello from Mornese, the Institute of Our Lady of Grace, called by the citizens “Our Lady”, was the Mother House and seat of the General Council, “fertile land for the rapid development and expansion of the FMA Institute in the 5 continents”.
In his homily, the Rector Major, after presenting the Provincials with their respective origins, recalled the humble beginnings of the Congregations. “We cannot forget our origins. Recalling Don Bosco’s coming to Nizza, he was the first one to be convinced that it was not his work, but that God and Mary Help of Christians were behind it. We must not forget how we were born.” He exhorted those present, including children and young people, “to live giving their best, whatever state the Lord has entrusted to us, in the certainty that God loves us”.
After the celebration, Fr. Ángel met the students of the CIOFS-FP Piedmont of Casale Monferrato (AL) who prepared and set up the buffet, at which he conversed and congratulated. The visit ended with a ‘state of the art’ buffet served by the students of the CIOFS-PF of Alessandria.
The arrival of the Rector Major, ‘Don Bosco today’, and the SDB Provincials was an event lived with joy and gratitude by the FMA, by the members of the Salesian Family, and by the citizens, as well as an opportunity for the Salesians of Don Bosco to study the Charism in the various places visited: Turin, Chieri, and Colle Don Bosco, Mornese and Valponasca, Nizza Monferrato and to live moments of fraternity in the spirit of our Salesian Family.