Rome (Italy). On 29 March 2022 in Rome, at the Generalate, the Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, and her Council met with the Superior of the Preprovince Mary Mother of the Church, Sr. María del Carmen Canales, and with the Academic Council of the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences “Auxilium”.
Starting from the first priority choice of the XXIV General Chapter, ‘Let us revive and witness together the beauty of the Salesian vocation by placing ourselves in a state of ongoing formation for a renewed vocational impulse,’ the aim of the meeting was to dialogue on the major formation needs present today in the FMA Institute and on the contribution that the Faculty can offer in this regard.
After a brief presentation among the participants, Mother General opened the meeting by recalling the Covid-19 pandemic, which for a long time did not allow them to meet in presence, and the conflict in Ukraine, with the direct and indirect consequences that it entails. She went on to say:
“We left with the post-capitular commitment ‘to be with Mary a presence that generates life’ and, on the other hand, the motto of ‘Auxilium’ is ‘for a ‘culture of life’. Being generative, supporting life, promoting and caring for life is a mission for us, because ours is a spirituality of care. It is the preferential way to reach others. In this time, we realize more powerfully than ever how important it is to educate for peace, also through taking care of life in the daily life of the Communities. For this reason, in communities made up of people of different cultures and languages, it is important, albeit demanding, to overcome any prejudice”.
The word then passed to the Principal, Sr. Piera Ruffinatto, who thanked Mother, appointed by the Holy See as Grand Chancellor of the Faculty, for this meeting, the first with the new Superior General and the new Council. It is the expression of their care regarding the ‘Auxilium’, work given to the Church by the FMA Institute. She also expressed the desire of the Faculty to make its own contribution to the implementation of the choices and deliberations of the Chapter.
To Sr. Enrica Ottone, Extraordinary Delegate of Teachers, was entrusted with the task of briefly presenting the Faculty with the resources, challenges, and perspectives for today and for the future, and some elements of the external Evaluation Report published on the AVEPRO website, the Agency of the Holy See for the Evaluation and Promotion of the Quality of Universities and Ecclesiastical Faculties. The Evaluation Commission highlighted a Self-Evaluation Report (RAV) edited and with a rich documentation attached. It is the result of considerable work, represents an authentic patrimony which, Sr. Enrica specifies, can be drawn on with advantage also in the future.
Following the visit of the Commission, the qualifying aspects of the Faculty continue to be privileged: education, attention to the world of young people and women, internationality, and consolidating the Salesian ‘charismatic profile’ within the Pontifical Universities and Faculties, and, in general, in the educational field.
The Faculty also undertakes to network through an ever-greater openness at the international level, the sharing of research results, participation in conferences, not only of an ecclesial nature, publications in international journals, and promoting the mobility of teachers and students.
The General Council, for its part, values the commitment of the Faculty in the preparation of the Conference, “Contribution of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians to education (1872-2022). Paths, challenges, and perspectives” to be held in Rome, in the Generalate, from 25 to 30 September 2022, and in the research “Educating together – Research on the conception and practice of the Preventive System in the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.” The Council also asks for collaboration and a specific contribution for the updating of the “Formation Plan” and “Guidelines for the Educational Mission”, documents of our own law, for the elaboration of the Protocols and for reflection on the issue of gender.
With regard to the 2021-2027 six-year programming, further themes have been identified for possible collaboration. Among other things, great adhesion to the initiative of the Salesian Thursdays at Auxilium, for which it is planned to agree on contents and modalities for the next few years.
Considerable time was also dedicated to reflection on formation and its impact on the life of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and of the communities. It emerges that it is necessary to know better and give more importance to the formative dynamics that characterize adulthood, thinking about how to make the FMA responsible for their formation.
The meeting, held in a climate of listening and sharing the common desire to put the best resources and energies at the service of the Institute, ends with mutual gratitude and, on the part of Mother and the Council, the renewed esteem and trust in the formative proposals of the Auxilium.
“The quality of the life of the Institute and the fruitfulness of its mission depend on formation. Attention to the dynamism of the charism today requires far-sighted vision and a planning mentality” (Atti CGXXIV, 27).