Rome (Italy). On 15 May 2022 the Communities of Mary Help of Christians of the Generalate (RCG) and Sacred Heart, of St. John Bosco Province (IRO), celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians together with the faithful of the Salesian Parish Holy Mary of Hope of Rome.
Urged by the words of Mother Chiara Cazzuola who, in Circular no. 1014, invites us to “celebrate with joy and solemnity the 150th anniversary of the Institute in your realities”, the Animator of the Generalate, Sr. Carla Castellino, asked the Parish Priest Fr. Giorgio Zazza, a Salesian of Don Bosco, originally from the neighborhood and former Oratorian of the Generalate, to renew the “yes” in the parish, together with the sisters of Sacred Heart Community. Mother Chiara and three General Councilors were also present at the celebration.
After the words of the Animator, who thanked Fr. Giorgio for the fraternal welcome and motivated the presence of many FMA at the Sunday Mass, the choir made up of the parish singers and some Sisters, and led by Maestro Luigi Mainero, solemnly sang the hymn, “We glorify your name Lord”.
In his homily, the parish priest commented on the liturgy of the fifth Sunday of Easter and expressed his gratitude to the Lord for the gift of Mary Domenica Mazzarello, “Her wisdom was to say, ‘I want my life to shine like that of Jesus’. Life lived, modeled on that of Jesus, is life that lasts forever.
The first trait that we can see in this young woman who dies at 44 and lives a full life, was her familiarity with God. She was in love with God. When we discover ourselves, we re-discover ourselves loved by God, for who we are, not for what we do; when our hearts burn, we can’t wait to tell others. The pyrograph, in order to design, to engrave, must be at a high temperature. When we let God into our life, and Mary Domenica is an example, what we effect in our life and in the lives of others, remains forever.
Real life is forever, it doesn’t end with us. When Mary Domenica died in 1881, her life had already borne fruit; she had involved 165 sisters, 65 novices. Today there are almost 11,000 FMA all over the world. God is faithful. This says that our life is so precious that it doesn’t end with us. It is the meaning of the yes that they will now renew.
This neighborhood was born, grew, developed, expanded under the gaze of Mary. That statue on top of the Generalate has been looking at life in this neighborhood forever. It is a gaze that is made up of hands, hearts, eyes, feet, choices. If there are among us people who live life to the full, it is because there have been FMA who have had the patience and the trust to accompany them in their growth. Today we too are part of that fidelity.”
The atmosphere of joy and gratitude enveloped the next moment, in which the FMA renewed their “yes” to the Lord and to the educational mission with passion and enthusiasm. A delicate choreography, performed by five sisters, accompanied the singing of the ‘Magnificat’. The assembly joined the FMA by renewing the baptismal promises. Before the final blessing, the hymn of the 150th anniversary confirmed the solemnity of the celebration, made even more evident by a warm applause from the parishioners.
Among the celebrations and initiatives of “Holy Mary of Hope” Parish for the Novena to Mary Help of Christians, the Eucharistic Celebration in honor of St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello takes place on 16 May, animated by the FMA of the Communities of the Generalate and Sacred Heart and embellished by the intervention of Mother Chiara Cazzuola on the Saint Co-founder of the FMA Institute. Special guests at the Celebration are the young people, some of whom animate the parish choir together with the FMA, who sing the opening hymn “Come strong branch”, in memory of Mother Mazzarello. At the time of the homily, the parish priest, Fr. Giorgio Zazza, gives the word to Mother Chiara who goes to the ambo and introduces “Mary Domenica Mazzarello, a woman of God”.
Drawing on the Cronistoria and testimonies of Fr. Ferdinando Maccono, biographer of Mother Mazzarello, of Fr Alberto Caviglia, expert in Salesian Spirituality, and of Fr. John Cagliero, Director of the first FMA Community, Mother highlights the initial desire of Mary Domenica to “make the Lord known and loved” by the girls and the “pedagogical vocation” infused by God, which will manifest itself in her maternal presence among the sisters and young women, “fulfilling in herself the behavior of a mother and educator, the brilliant and difficult harmony between firmness and gentleness, authority and freedom, intervention and respect for the maturation times of each one.”
In concluding, Mother Chiara addresses a message to the assembly on the relevance of Mother Mazzarello:
“Mother Mazzarello always has a realistic outlook on the world. She too, like Don Bosco, lives in times of great cultural, social, economic, political, ecclesial changes. Their criterion for dealing with changing reality is the ‘need to know and adapt to the times’. A method therefore marked by realism, concreteness, the ability to adapt to reality that is transformed starting from a clear reference: the explicit or implicit demand for the formation of young people.
This is what remains for us as a precious legacy to make grow and develop. It teaches us that there are no difficult times or impossible conditions to educate and ‘lead the young to the Lord’. Even the time we are living at a global level is a challenge to education and formation, but nothing is impossible when we work with faith and trust that the Holy Spirit is the true protagonist of the formation processes and the educator par excellence.”
The Eucharist ends with the solemn blessing and with the significant gesture of lighting the lamp entrusted to Mother Chiara, in front of Mary Help of Christians, at the beginning of the great Novena.