Bogotá (Colombia). From April 25 to May 3, the Superior General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, who arrived in Medellín on April 11 on the occasion of the World Feast of Gratitude, and after the Visits to Mary Help of Christians Province (CMA), to Saint Mary Mazzarello Province (CMM) and to Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá Province (CBC), visited Our Lady of the Snows Province (CBN).
On 25 April, the Provincial, Sr. Cecilia Camacho, the Sisters of the Council, the members of the Salesian Family, the children and young people of the CBN Province, welcomed Mother Chiara with songs, dances, and the prayer of the “Magnificat” in the chapel, followed by the presentation of a ‘poncho’ typical of Colombia. Present were Sr. Marta Riccioli Visiting Councilor, the other three Provincials of Colombia, the Provincials of Peru and Venezuela, Sr. Bernarda Santamaría with the Novices of the Interprovincial Novitiate, who were preparing to celebrate the World Feast of Gratitude in communion with the whole Institute.
In the afternoon, Mother went to Mary Help of Christians School in Bogota for the celebration of the solemn first vespers of the World Feast of Gratitude, on the theme of the beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt 5:9).
The culmination of the Feast of April 26, after the celebration of Lauds and the solemn Eucharist, was the afternoon youth festival, “From Colombia to the world, let’s paint life with peace and hope,” at the end of which Mother received a ‘Silver Orchid’ from Sr. Cecilia Camacho, on behalf of the Colombian Provincials. The day ended with Mother’s Good Night addressing all the FMA, inviting them to revive the gift of fraternity and to cultivate a vocational culture.
The day of April 27 began at the see of the CBN Province, with the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Fr. Luis Bernardo Mur, SDB, who in his homily underlined the importance of returning to the origins and of being vocational, prophetic, synodal communities and missionaries. The liturgical animation was taken care of by the educational Institution of “Saint Mary Mazzarello” of Canaguaro – Meta. The students then danced the joropo, a typical dance of the eastern plains and presented Mother with a poncho and “cotizas llaneras”, typical footwear.
Subsequently, Mother met the Provincials of the Interprovincial Conference of CINAB, with whom she deepened the theme, “The service of authority that generates life.” In the afternoon, she met with the Superiors of the CBN and CBC Provinces. In her discourse, she was inspired by the message of Pope Francis to the Superiors General, “Women witnesses of the Risen One who have not been afraid of the dark” and then invited them to recover the characteristic traditions of the spirit of the origins: Good Night, prayer of the Holy Rosary, and the Private Conversation.
On 28 April, after the Holy Mass presided over by the Provincial Superior of the Pauline community, Fr. Julio Roncancio, accompanied by Sr. Cecilia Camacho, the Sisters of the Council, and a group of FMA, Mother Chiara went to visit the Mother House Elisa Roncallo, located in a suburb of Bogotá. There she was welcomed by young people and children representing all the educational works of the Province, who expressed their gratitude with dances, songs, and gestures of closeness. Mother Chiara joyfully addressed them, thanking the entire Educating Community. She then unveiled a commemorative plaque as a reminder of her visit. (Video)
In the afternoon, Mother met the Council and the Provincial Team, addressing the sisters and inviting them to continue the journey together, where all the communities feel heard and involved in the search for God’s will, to continue working for vocations, and to trust in Providence as Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello did.
On 29 April, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, with Sr. Cecilia Camacho and some Sisters of the Provincial Council arrived at St. Mary D. Mazzarello retirement home, where the sisters and lay staff welcomed her with immense joy to the rhythm of Colombian songs performed by the Sisters and with a gymnastic performance that allegorically expressed “The life cycle of an FMA”. Mother Chiara thanked the lay staff for their care and dedication to the elderly and sick sisters, to whom she expressed her gratitude for their fidelity, dedication, and service, because they are “the patrimony and great treasure of the Institute,” which they continue to support with the offering of sacrifice and prayer.
Later, she visited the CBC – CBN Interprovincial Communities, which welcomed her with Sr. Edith Franco, CBC Provincial, some Sisters of the Council, the Aspirants and their families. She invited the FMA in particular to live in common accord, in continuous dialogue and discernment, to follow the path of communion and work in synodality. As she did on other occasions, Mother gave them the opportunity to express their reflections and concerns.
In the celebration of the fourth Sunday of Easter, with the passage of Jesus the Good Shepherd, on April 30 the FMA of the CBN Province raised the prayer of thanksgiving to God for the presence of Mother Chiara in their midst. The Eucharist was presided over by Fr. Jhon Jairo Gómez Rúa, SDB, Provincial of the Province of Bogotá (COB), who in his homily spoke of the importance of accompanying the children and young people entrusted to their care, as well as highlighting the mission of Mother Chiara as the “Good Shepherd who animates the life of the FMA Institute with generosity and joy.” The priests David Ricardo Medina (SDB) and Ramiro Morales (SDB), Past Pupils of the FMA, concelebrated the Eucharist. (Video)
In the afternoon, she met the Sisters from all the communities of the CBN Province, who sang the song “Reborn”, recalling the origins of the Province. Sr. Cecilia Camacho presented the life and works of the communities. Mother expressed herself on the following points: the need to take care of and value one’s humanity, the consolidation of vocational communities, the commitment to live fraternity, the experience of the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation as space for growth in grace, and the call to the mission ad gentes as a generous gift to the Institute.
The day of 1 May was dedicated to the Pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Lord of Monserrate with the CBN and CBC Provincials and a good group of FMA, to start the month dedicated to Mary well. Msgr. Héctor Gutiérrez Pabón, and the parish priest accompanied this moment fraternally, inviting the assembly to give thanks for the presence of Mother Chiara.
Now approaching the departure on 2 May, the FMA of the four Colombian Provinces, through a virtual platform, united in praise for the visit of Mother, who affectionately greeted the Sisters present. The Provincials thanked her for her trust in celebrating the World Day in Colombia, for the fraternal meeting with her daughters, for sharing moments of celebration, and for her closeness to the educating communities. Mother concluded with a reading in Spanish of Mother Mazzarello’s Letter 65 to the missionary Sr. Ottavia Mussolino.
On 3 May, the Provincial, together with a group of Sisters, offered the Eucharist of thanksgiving for Mother Chiara for her visit to Colombia. Fr. Hernán Cardona (SDB) presided, giving the homily in Italian and deepened the figure of Jesus on the cross, as a full manifestation of the love of the Father, who offers the gift of eternal life, an experience of grace that Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello gave to young people both in Turin and in Mornese. The President of the National Catholic Confederation of Education (CONACED), Sr. Gloria Patricia Corredor Mendoza, greeted Mother Chiara and thanked her for the celebration of gratitude in Colombia, a sign of life for Catholic education, delivering a bouquet of orchids as an expression of the sowing of peace, hope, and faith.
In the evening, the Provincials and the FMA said farewell to Mother Chiara at the El Dorado airport in Bogotá, expressing gratitude for the words, gestures, simplicity, and motherhood of Mother Chiara, which made the visit to Colombia an experience of charismatic enrichment and of great communion with the Institute.