Rome (Italy). The Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, with Circular no. 1026 reaches all the FMA during the time in which we are preparing for the World Feast of Gratitude to express gratitude to each one, “When I contemplate the marvels that the Lord has worked and continues to work in our Institute, praise and thanksgiving arise spontaneously for the life and vocation of every Daughter of Mary Help of Christians past, present, and future”.
Thanking the four Provinces of Colombia who are preparing the Feast, which will take place in Bogotá on April 26, she then lingered on the theme – With Mary we generate a culture of peace – which “comes from reflection on the times we are living; in fact, more than thirty wars are underway in the world and peace is threatened in many ways. The theme is illuminated by the word of God, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Mt 5:9) and it is an explicit invitation not to tire of building peace, of generating a culture of peace”.
Generate life for the future
The theme also fits into the post-chapter journey, from which Mother takes up the title of Acts GC XXIV – With Mary be a life-giving ‘presence’ – to underline the priority of the commitment to reawaken the passion for Jesus and the passion for education, and to experience generativity in its community dimension, involving all the members of the Educating Community, each with its own resources. Mother highlights, “Together we feel the responsibility for the future of the charism. We are, in fact, responsible for a gift of the Holy Spirit for the Church and for the world”.
The priority commitment of the Chapter is to live the service of authority as generative leadership. In the circular, a participatory style derives from the certainty that “the charism has a dynamic force, here and now, which is entrusted to us, as persons, as an educating community, and as an Institute, but its future depends a lot on our courage, enterprising creativity, ability to see and accept God’s new calls. An indispensable condition is the choice to walk together and seek together the most suitable ways, in communion with the synodal journey of the Church”.
For an animation that generates life
While not theorizing anything about the service of animation, in Mother Mazzarello we find the attitudes of involvement and co-responsible participation required of those who exercise a service of authority. There is the awareness that “the renewal desired by all for a more communal, fraternal, synodal style of animation needs greater attention and care, especially in this historical moment.” Thus, Mother Chiara and the General Council included in the Six-Year Programming, Seminars for the Interprovincial Conferences on the theme: ‘For a life-giving animation’.
Journeying with the Church, immersed in this time of synodal dynamics, as Daughters of Mary Help of Christians we are “asked to increasingly assume synodality as a style of animation and governance, at all levels, for an ever-greater appreciation of each person and a more fruitful mission in favor of the most disadvantaged young people”.
Responsibility and obedience
Mother Chiara then highlights the close link between synodality and obedience. “Synodality is based on obedience which is like the ‘glue’ of the community and there is no true obedience without inner freedom and a sense of responsibility towards the community and mission”. Recalling how article 32 of the Constitutions highlights obedience that Don Bosco considers the ‘hinge’ of the life of the FMA, should be read in terms of total availability to the mission to be lived in communion with the sisters, as a mandate entrusted to all, with a style distinguished by a spirit of faith, a cheerful heart, and humility, a sense of responsibility and belonging to the Institute.
To better express how indispensable a virtue was for him, there is the famous episode in which Don Bosco took a handkerchief and, after crumpling it and clenching it in his hands, said, “Everything will be possible if you let me do with you all that you have seen me do with this handkerchief!” (MB VI, Chap. I: 11-12). The same Salesian spirit is found in Mother Mazzarello with a feminine imprint in the phrase, “Do freely whatever charity requires” (L 35,3).
In concluding the Circular, Mother cannot help but recall “the Sisters and communities who suffer with their peoples the violence of war, injustice, religious and social discrimination, the dramatic consequences of climate change, the earthquake, especially the one in Syria and Turkey”. She is grateful for the generosity in supporting these situations, encouraging everyone to continue to pray for peace.
She concludes with a wish, also in the name of the General Council, for a Holy Easter to all the FMA and their families, to the Rector Major, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, to the Salesian confreres, to the members of the Salesian Family, and “to all involved with passion and love in the educational mission”. She ends with a particular wish that, “Hope and light may come especially to young women and men. May the light of the Resurrection shine in our lives as a proclamation of hope and peace”.