Cochabamba (Bolivia). From 14 to 25 March 2024, the Superior General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, in Bolivia on the occasion of the Inter-sector SeminarCINAB, made a short visit to the Province of Our Lady of Peace (BOL). During the Visit in Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, several significant moments of encounter and fraternity took place in the FMA Educating Communities.

On 14 March 2024, Mother, with the Vicar General, Sister María del Rosario García Ribas, and the Sector Councilors, arrived at Viru Viru Airport in Santa Cruz at dawn, warmly welcomed by the Sisters of Saint Mary Mazzarello Community and Casa Maín Community. She then continued her journey to Cochabamba.

In Cochabamba, at Wilstermann airport, Mother Chiara was welcomed by the Provincial, Sister Lucila Guerra; by the FMA of the local Houses; and by the members of “Don Bosco” Educational Unit. A teacher and a student expressed their gratitude to her with these words, “The arrival of our Mother General is a moment of renewal and hope. Her guidance will inspire all of us to follow the path traced by Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello.” The students then offered her a bouquet of white roses and performed in the popular Bolivian dance “Los caporales”.

The students of the “Nuestra Señora de la Paz” Educational Unit, from the smallest to the largest and, surprisingly, more than 70 FMA participants in the CINAB Seminar, were waiting for her at the provincial headquarters. A typical element of culture could not be missing: a wreath of flowers for Mother and each Councilor. A girl from elementary school offered her the gift of a miniature sister she had made.

In the evening, the Eucharist was celebrated in the presence of members of the Salesian Family – Daughters of the Divine Savior, Salesian Oblates, Daughters of the Sacred Hearts, Salesian Dames, Salesian Cooperators, FMA Past Pupils, ADMA, and the FMA present in the Center. The Eucharist was a celebration of songs and gestures, expressions of gratitude for the presence of Mother. Msgr. Fernando Bascopé, Salesian of Don Bosco, Bishop of San Ignacio de Velasco – Santa Cruz, in his homily referred to the spirituality of Mother Mazzarello recalling what she said, “May every stitch be an act of love for God.” The Provincial, Fr. Líder Justiniano, and several Salesian confreres concelebrated.

The day concluded with participation in the cultural act of welcome to Mother and the Sisters of the Council, which was also attended by the teaching and administrative staff, a delegation of parents, students of the upper years of the Educational Unit “O. L. of Peace”, and the CEA (Alternative Education Center) “Mary Help of Christians”. The event began with the singing of the Bolivian national anthem and the words of the Provincial and representatives of the Salesian Family.

This was followed by the performance of the students of the Universidad Mayor de “San Simón”, the State University, who performed folk dances representing the three main areas of Bolivia: the East, the Valleys, and the Altiplano. After the intervention of the Provincial, who spoke of Mother’s Visit as a sign of renewal, hoping that, “FMA and all those who listen may renew the passion of Salesians/ consecrated, renewing the charm of our community life, the friendly smile, simple and full of God.”  After the performance of several pieces of music by the Symphonic Band of the Educational Unit “O. L. of Peace”, the long-awaited moment of Mother’s words arrived:

“The songs and dances helped us to get to know the heart of Bolivia, especially your heart. We thank the Lord for giving us this precious Family and the Salesian Charism that we share. I thank each of you here in Cochabamba and in the rest of Bolivia. We have seen that there is a dream that makes us dream in our hearts. Don Bosco, at the end of his life, when he spoke to the Salesians said. “I draw the sketch, then you will add the colors.” What you are adding to the Salesian charism are the colors… I hope that we may live with great conviction what Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello entrusted to us. You are people who bring hope and joy to the world, because today there is a great need for hope and a great need for joy, and I hope that each of you may realize the dream that you carry in your heart.” 

The day of 20 March, after the CINAB Seminar the day was very intense for Mother Chiara. In the morning, in the chapel of Cochabamba, a Eucharist of gratitude to Mother Chiara was held, presided over by Provincial Líder Justiniano SDB, who stressed the importance of feeling at home and being grateful for the Salesian charism. During the Offertory, Mother brought a map to the altar, as a symbol of her attention and closeness to the daughters of Mary Help of Christians.

Subsequently, she met the teaching and administrative staff and secondary school students of the two educational units of Cochabamba “Don Bosco” and “O. L. of Peace”, who welcomed her with the performance of the national anthem, songs dedicated in Italian and Spanish, and the greeting by two representatives, with the consignment of the solidarity fund of the students to collaborate in the mission of the Institute.

At an official moment, Mother Chiara Cazzuola was then proclaimed “Illustrious Guest” of Colcapirhua, municipality of the Department of Cochabamba.

The meeting with the community Animators, held late in the morning, was followed by the imposition of the medal on two Aspirants as they begin the Period of Assessment and Guidance in the FMA Institute, accompanied by the motto “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you… I consecrated you” (Jeremiah 1:5). Mother Chiara addressed them, highlighting the importance of the moment and offering them three counsels: “1st Let yourself be guided, let yourself be accompanied; 2nd You must always look to Jesus and ask Him to tell you what He wants from you: your dialogue, your confrontation is with Him. And the 3rd counsel is to look to Mary. She is your teacher and your help; let yourself be guided and led by her; listen to her voice. When you have moments of doubt and you don’t know what to do, go to her and ask her, ‘what do you want of me?”

On 21 March Mother Chiara Cazzuola took a plane to reach the city of Santa Curz, welcomed at the airport by the students of Maria Ausiliatrice School of Montero – Santa Cruz. She then met with the Educating Communities and the FMA of the city and participated in the Eucharist of welcome with the Salesian Family.

On 22 March, accompanied by the Provincial, she visited the Higher Institute “Saint Francis Xavier” in Okinawa, Santa Cruz. On 23 March, she had a meeting with the Provincial Council. On 24 March, Palm Sunday, she met the girls and young women of the Family Home for young people at risk – Casa Maín.

In both cities, Mother Chiara’s presence was welcomed with joy and affection, strengthening the family spirit and fraternity of the Salesian community. Her messages of hope and renewal in the Salesian charism resounded in the hearts of all those who met her, leaving an indelible mark.

Photos: Flickr FMA


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