Rome (Italy). On 2 December 2021, with the presentation by Prof. Eliane Petri, FMA, on the theme “Mother Mazzarello: ‘a big and generous heart’. Her educational motherhood challenges us”, the 2nd appointment of ‘Salesian Thursdays at Auxilium’ was held, the initiative of the Studies Center on FMA of the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences ‘Auxilium’ in Rome with in-depth studies on the pedagogy, spirituality, and history of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
The ‘secret’ of the fully realized life of Mary Domenica, explains Prof. Petri, is contained in her ‘motherly heart’. Mary Domenica lived her spiritual motherhood in the light of the motherhood of Mary of Nazareth, source of generativity, “‘At the Wedding of Cana there was the Mother of Jesus’ (Jn 2: 1), a solicitous, attentive, foreseeing, prayerful presence. Also in Mornese there was the mother, Mary Mazzarello. Her mission was to form the first FMA and to create a new way of being a vocational, synodal, missionary community ‘with’ and ‘for’ the young”.
The adjective ‘educational’ qualifies her identity as a woman educator and is completed with the action of the Holy Spirit, keeping in mind the person in all her dimensions: human, emotional, intellectual, spiritual in their entirety. “It is a motherhood generated by the Spirit. Mother Mazzarello had the experience of allowing herself to be regenerated day after day by the Spirit and for this reason hers is a motherhood that knows how to perceive the action of the Spirit in herself, in people, and in history”.
The name ‘mother’ is the one with which she presents herself in her Letters. Don Bosco had perceived in her the educative motherhood capable of interpreting Salesian spirituality in a feminine way. On the occasion of the first official election he had said to the sisters, “I find it good that the superior is called ‘mother’ by all of you.”
Mother Mazzarello, who in that “I entrust them to you!” experience of Borgoalto, had already been invested by the mission of ‘mother’, initially struggling to accept the new mandate of ‘Mother and Superior’ but then, realizing that it is God’s will, she assumes it fully, in the totality of the gift of herself, as a mother who ‘takes care’ (L 10.2; 12.3) and is “willing to do everything for your good” (L 52.5).
Mary Domenica’s ‘motherly heart’ is ‘a big and generous heart’ which opens up to great horizons and encourages missionary generativity. The expression, which appears in Letters 27 and 47 to Sister Angela Vallese, a missionary in Patagonia, is an invitation for the sisters to face the inevitable difficulties in their turn with a “big and generous” heart, that is, generative of life, of joy, of openness to everyone and to all of reality.
In her presentation, Prof. Eliane Petri highlights the traits of Mother Mazzarello’s educational motherhood, a motherhood that calls to educators, consecrated and lay people, and challenges to a new relationship with the younger generations in the heart of contemporaneity:
“Mary Domenica Mazzarello teaches us a style: to be a meaningful and challenging ‘presence’; learn to become our best selves, men and women who have the courage and patience to weave authentic and profound interpersonal relationships, who bet their lives in ‘taking care’, in loving and making themselves loved, making a conscious effort to put the conditions that promote the culture of life and the civilization of peace and love”.