Rome (Italy). On 24 September 2023 in Rome, at the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences “Auxilium”, the communities that make up the Preprovince Mary Mother of the Church (RMC) welcomed the new Superior, Sister Jessica Salvaña.
Of Philippine origin and coming from Mary Our Help Province of Cambodia and Myanmar (CMY), Sister Jessica succeeds Sister Maria del Carmen Canales Calzadilla, the first Superior to lead the “very young” Preprovince, canonically erected on 8 October 2017. The welcome took place in the framework of the Preprovince Assembly, in the presence of all the FMA from the five communities.
Sister Jessica arrived in the morning, accompanied by the Vicar General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sister Maria del Rosario García Ribas. All the sisters were waiting for her in the courtyard, in front of the Welcoming Madonna to Welcome her and give her a fraternal embrace.
She was then accompanied towards the entrance of the Faculty where four sisters representing the four continents of origin of the FMA each gave her a sign of welcome, symbol of the internationality of the RMC Preprovince: a capulana (sarong) from Africa, a precious scarf from Asia, beautiful flowers from the Americas, and an olive wood sculpture from Europe and the Middle East.
The Vicar General then pronounced the words of the Decree of appointment as Superior of the Preprovince, underlining the date of 24 September as the official date of the beginning of her service. A greeting to Mary in the Auxilium hall sealed this intense and emotional moment.
The Holy Mass presided over by Fr. Joyce Thonikuzhiyil, Salesian of Don Bosco, was animated by songs in different languages and prayers that conveyed the idea of embracing the whole world.
After Holy Mass, all the moments planned in the Assembly program followed, immediately involving Sister Jessica in the life of the Preprovince. At the end, after a greeting given by the Salesian Cooperators, Sister Jessica spoke to all those present, starting with these expressions:
“I rejoice fully in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God (Is 61:10). These words from the book of Isaiah are the very words that come to mind at this moment, seeing you in this assembly! Look at the Sister sitting next to you! Isn’t she perhaps God’s gift to our Preprovince? This, in fact, is a reason to rejoice and raise our praise to the Lord, in seeing the intercultural and intergenerational face of our Preprovince. Sisters, it is no coincidence that each of us finds herself in this Preprovince. None of us chose to be here. It is God who wanted us to live together in this Preprovince”.
Sister Jessica then urged them to be meaningful people, giving the best of themselves in synodal style. “The word ‘synod’ must not be a fashionable slogan but a lifestyle embodied in our daily life.” There was also a reference to being generators of life, “Each one with her unique contribution makes this Preprovince a ‘generator of life’. We are all involved in this journey together… being generators of life, first of all for each other and then for the young people who have been entrusted to us”. The new Superior conveyed a lot of hope and trust to the Sisters, assuring a service carried out in simplicity, listening, and attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
The Assembly closed with the song to Mary “You said yes”, to once again say heartfelt thanks to Sister Jessica for her willingness to be an instrument in the hands of God, in generous service in the RMC Preprovince.