Rome (Italy). On 9 May 2022, 282 Novices of the 22 Novitiates of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians present all over the world participated in the global online meeting “Today Mother tells us: Courage, let us dream big”, organized by the Formation Sector of the Institute on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Foundation of the FMA Institute (1872-2022).

Present at the encounter was the Mother General of the FMA Institute, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola who, after a brief and simple prayer moment, greeted the Novices and paused on Letter 43 written by Mother Mazzarello on 9 July 1880, from Nizza Monferrato to Sr. Laura Rodriguez who had made her religious profession just a few months before on 24 Mary 1880 at Buenos Aires.

Making Mother Mazzarello’s words her own, Mother Chiara encouraged the Novices to continue the journey with decisiveness and joy.  She invited them to make the phrase, “Courage then, I want you to be cheerful always and to become holy soon”, a true and proper program of life, letting it resound in their heart and transforming it into a concrete daily commitment:

“Courage is one of the most repeated words of Mother.  She knows that we always need it and that we are on a journey that can be tortuous at times, uphill, with obstacles, so she tells us ‘Courage’, do not be afraid, the Lord is with you”. (Video).

The Novices of Sr. Teresa Valsè Pantellini Novitiate of Rome tell of the experience lived:

“It was lovely to see the various faces that the charism takes on in the diverse cultures; to travel the whole world in a few minutes passing from America to Africa, from Asia to Europe, and being amazed by the beauty of our Institute.

We had been asked to prepare ourselves for this encounter with some modules that took up the Acts of General Chapter XXIV, some Circulars of Mother Yvonne and of Mother Chiara, and a Letter of Mother Mazzarello and, based on these, to reflect on the kind of Daughter of Mary Help of Christians we dream of becoming.

During this encounter, we were able to share our reflections in language groups. When we were invited to choose a key word as the synthesis of our group, it was a beautiful surprise to discover that we were in harmony.  In fact, these elements emerged from many groups: being generative, walking together for the young people, and being rooted in Christ.

There was no lack of family spirit and the simplicity of fraternal sharing. Despite the physical distance, there was a desire to get to know each other and a bit of healthy curiosity regarding cultures different than ours.”

In conclusion, the greeting of Sr. Nilza Fátima de Moraes, General Councilor for Formation who with the words of Pope Francis, encouraged us to dream big, without fear of making big choices. “We do not give up on big dreams, great dreams come from great choices, great choices make life great. The same Mother Mazzarello tells us today, Courage, let’s dream big. The Lord does not want us to narrow our horizons, but He wants us to race towards high goals, with joy and daring” (Video).

In conclusion, Mother Chiara left us with the last words of the Letter with which we had begun our encounter, changing the words to the plural, “…Although I do not know you personally, I love you very, very much…May God bless you and make you totally His”.

Like every feast, we concluded the encounter with great joy. After having danced to the hymn of the 150th anniversary of the Institute, we entertained each other spontaneously and with great enthusiasm greeting each other, some with a song, some with meaningful gestures, some showing an ice cream that crowned the moment of celebration.

The difference in languages did not hinder the desire to express joy and gratitude for what we had lived and for all that it had aroused in us. Above all, there remains the wonder at so much beauty, and gratitude towards those who made the encounter possible, in all its stages of preparation and implementation, especially towards the Lord who continues to amaze us and unite us in the Charism of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello.  We truly felt part of a great history, of a covenant that continues, of a dream that is very alive today”.

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