Rome (Italy). On 8 December 2022, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a desired and expected “presence” was welcomed and inaugurated in the garden of the Generalate of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Rome: a statue of Saint Mary Domenica Mazzarello.
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute, it was inaugurated last August in a “charismatic” area in the garden, in connection with the exhibit that can be visited inside the building. The initiative was born from the sharing of the sisters of the Council and of the Generalate, to accept the invitation to ecological conversion given by the XXIV General Chapter with the resolution, enhancing a green area with panels that invite reflection and prayer.
In Circular 1020 they announced, “as a perennial reminder of this year, the Generalate will have a new and particular touch of ‘Mornese’ welcome: a statue of Mother Mazzarello placed in the garden, which portrays her seated, ready to converse with simplicity and familiarity with those who will pause near her.” Finally, after a work of patient research and collaboration with experts, she has arrived.
Seeing for the first time the statue created by Marco Conti of the SIAS Company (Italian Society of Sacred Art) of Frattocchie, Rome, the Mother General of the FMA Institute, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, expressed herself as follows:
“It is a gift for all the FMA and for all the people who will pass through the Generalate, a special gift in this year so important for each one of us and for the whole Institute, but also for all those who recognize in her a mother , a model of woman and educator.
Mother Mazzarello is depicted in her typical attitude of attentive listening to the interlocutor who will sit next to her. The left hand holds the crucifix, to remind us that Jesus is the center of the life of every FMA and of every Christian. It is His paschal mystery that founds our hope and sustains our faith amidst the difficulties of life and of history, among the hardships of education and evangelization”.
It is significant that the inauguration of the statue took place precisely on 8 December, the date on which the birth of the oratory and of the Salesian works is remembered through an Ave Maria, prayed during the encounter of Don Bosco with Bartolomeo Garelli.
After the traditional ‘Marian circle’, with a small representation of the Salesian event of 8 December 1841, Mary Help of Christians Community of the Generalate (RCG), with Sacred Heart Community of the St. John Bosco Province (IRO), Mother and the Councilors went out in procession to “go to meet” Mother Mazzarello.
Removing the cloth that covered the statue, Mother Chiara addressed her with these words:
Dear Mother Mazzarello,
you are always with us, you support us on the journey, you invite us to rekindle the fire of love for the Lord and for young people. You guard us with the tenderness that made you write at the end of each letter to your distant Daughters, “Mother who loves you very much” (L 47 ) and so we feel you are the Mother who loves us very much and always.
But we need signs to express our feelings, signs that remind us and others that something special happened this year. We celebrated the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute in a particular period in which the pandemic has halved and almost eliminated our plans to celebrate such a significant date. However, we have tried to go further, to read the history in which we find ourselves, so often confused and chaotic, and to prepare ourselves internally, deepening our roots to give thanks for the gifts received and above all to look to the future. So we thought we’d place a sign as a reminder that 150 years is not just a milestone, but rather a stepping stone. And what more beautiful sign than your presence?
Dearest Mother Mazzarello, today we want to welcome you to the garden of your home, because you are and always remain the Mother who loves us very much!
This is how we thought of you, sitting and listening, maternal and always available for your daughters near and far, like in Mornese, like in Nizza.
We have left an empty seat next to you, so whoever desires, FMA, young people, lay people, can sit next to you and tell you what is in their heart but also listen to you, to your always serene and decisive voice that invites us to go forward with a big and generous heart.
Mother then sat down on the bench next to the statue of Mother Mazzarello, to entrust her intentions to her. From their ‘encounter’, from the meeting of each FMA with Mother Mazzarello at the end of this jubilee year, the future of the Institute is born, the future of the educational and evangelizing mission at the service of the youth of the various continents.