Rome (Italy). March 8, 2024 marks the 40th anniversary of the birth of the Servant of God Mother Rosetta Marchese (1922-1984), VII Successor of Saint Mary Domenica Mazzarello as guide of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.

Among the characteristics of his personality, surely her passion for evangelization stands out, the desire to communicate the good news of God’s unconditional love in His Son Jesus. From the very beginning of her religious life, she cultivated the desire to leave for the missions.

One of her Sisters and friend from the first hour, Sister Olga Ferrero, said that one day they were “at the end of the school year 1941-1942 in the office of Mother Linda Lucotti for a final greeting.  Mother tells her that her missionary request had been accepted […] I was a little… stunned because I did not know her of her request (she usually told me everything!) and therefore I started a tirade stressing the need for the Province (it was Vercelli), the expenses that the Province had borne for her studies, and I don’t know what else I told her. And she in silence, smiling, serene… […]”.

In the letter written on 20 October 1964, to her spiritual director, the Servant of God Msgr. Francesco Fasola, Mother Rosetta said, “I was happy, beloved Father, because you let your passion for the missions overflow into the heart of your daughter. Your   daughter also asked the Superiors three times to be sent to the missions… I would have liked to go with the lepers. So far, the Lord has not thought it good to listen in any way to my request; but my hope has not yet died. I will not ask more specifically because the last negative answer, when I was already in Caltagirone, closed my mouth. On the other hand, it would seem to me by now to be forcing the Lord’s will. But He knows that I am always waiting and that I would also leave immediately, at the first call”.

Although she never went to the mission ad gentes, Mother Rosetta had the opportunity over the years to live in places very different than those in which she was born and formed: as Animator in Caltagirone, Sicily and in Rome “Jesus Nazarene”. She was then Provincial in the Rome Province and in the Lombard Province “Mary Immaculate”. As a Visiting General Councilor, she went to various European Provinces, Gabon, and Zaire (the current Democratic Republic of the Congo). As with many other FMA, the missionary question sealed the total availability of Mother Rosetta. But it is with the offering of herself as a victim that this availability will reach its climax.

The missionary drive unites Mother Rosetta with other illustrious FMA, including Blessed Maria Troncatti (1883 – 1969).

She cultivated in her heart the dream of going to the missions among the lepers. As a Nurse in Nizza in 1922, while she was assisting the young Marina Luzzi, now at the end of her earthly pilgrimage, she had whispered in her ear, “Marina, tell Our Lady to obtain for me from Jesus to go as a missionary among the lepers.” And Marina had answered her, “No, Sister Maria. You will go as a missionary to Ecuador.” Three days after the death of the young woman, Sister Maria met the Superior General, Mother Caterina Daghero, in a corridor who told her of her mission in Ecuador, in the Amazon forest, for the evangelization of the Shuar people.

Sister Maria Troncatti wrote to Mother Daghero in 1927, “Oh, yes, the word ‘Missionary’ stirs in my heart like poetry. It excites and attracts the soul in the hours of fervent dreams of apostolate and immolation. But in practice, how it makes one feel an imperious dream to exclaim, “Pray, pray, that we may not lose our strength.” There are many moral struggles, material difficulties, when nature often rebels and discouragement tries to overthrow us; when after weeks and months of work and sacrifice among these poor indigenous, we cannot get them to understand anything, not even a small idea of the Lord and eternal life! However, we feel the effect of the spiritual help that comes from the dear Sisters, and from the good souls who pray for us. The Lord does not let sun’s rays be missing in the storm clouds that sometimes surround us”.

In Circular No. 653 of 24 May 1982, Mother Rosetta wrote to the Institute: “The Virgin of the Magnificat shines in our eyes like the Star of Evangelization. Without looking to Mary, we cannot enter effectively into the evangelizing action of the Church; without penetrating her Magnificat, we cannot understand that our mission is born exclusively from the saving action of the Father and that action for the advent of the Kingdom remains sterile if it is not a faith witnessed, proclaimed, and celebrated with life.

Contemplating Mary, our activity whatever it may be, will not run the risk of changing into activism. The momentum of the da mihi animas will help us to realize the ecstasy of action. Contemplating Mary, we will succeed in forming in ourselves the interior unification so desired by the General Chapter for all the FMA. Contemplating Mary, our days will become ‘a liturgy lived in simplicity and joy, as perennial praise to the Father'”.

Sister Maria Troncatti and Mother Rosetta Marchese were women with missionary hearts. They show us that wherever we are, we can bring a “new impulse to the first proclamation of Jesus, to evangelization” (Acts of Chapter XXIV).


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