Nizza Monferrato (Italy). On 28 March 2023, Our Lady of Grace Institute of Nizza Monferrato (Asti) welcomed 1500 boys and girls from the eleven Primary Schools of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Piedmont.
29 buses, 70 Civil Service volunteers, 100 teachers, thousands of smiles, and many songs cheered up the quiet town of Nizza, with the intention of making the important value of gentleness grow in everyone through games and celebration.
Animated by the expert and entertaining Egidio Carlomagno, it was a celebration of colors, joy, games, memories of the heart, to celebrate a great Monferrato woman: Mary Domenica Mazzarello, known as Main, born in Mornese in 1837 and died in Nizza Monferrato at the age of 44, on 14 May 1881.
A saint of ‘home’, less known than St. John Bosco, from Asti “DOC”, but no less than him a brilliant educator, known throughout the world for being the Co-foundress of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
For one day, a splendid sunny day, the House of Nizza was transformed into the stage for a great simulation game, because also the Saints have superpowers and with them are capable of defeating whatever negativity there may be in society, to free the beautiful and the good.
St. Mary Mazzarello, who lived in the Monferrato city in the last two years of her life, gave a strong missionary and educational impulse to this School and to the Sister led by her. With her style of “long patience and boundless sweetness” she guided the first community of the FMA on paths of integral education that were innovative for that time.
Her “superpower” that we wanted to highlight more at this celebration since it is often lacking is that of gentleness, the ability to relate with respect to each other, the readiness to apologize when one is wrong, the willingness for mutual help, the attention not to pass by anyone indifferently, the ability to say thank you with a smile.
The metaphor of superpowers, experienced in the great game with children, helps to speak in a language understandable to children, using a vocabulary that, already conveyed by the media, is familiar to them. Here then is the ‘superpower’, taken from the main events of Mary Domenica’s life, that becomes synonymous with the virtues that must be strengthened in play and in life.
After the greetings of the authorities of the Municipality, represented by the Councilor for Culture and Scholastic and Social Policies, Maria Ausilia Quaglia; and by the Director of the FMA Community, Sr. Piera Cavaglià, the games began with teams of 500 players each, divided into 12 stand game points. In each area or game point, two classes challenged each other with a score for each race, then the classes rotated in the various stands.
In the fun and challenging activities, each student contributed to the strength of the team by making their skills available and trusting the skills of others, acquiring a spirit of solidarity and learning that great goals can be achieved together.
After the sack lunch in the large sports field, with the invaluable collaboration of the Volunteers, the workshops on Main’s three superpowers followed, animated by the various schools: the third graders in the Sanctuary with a beautiful prayer/poetry on the gentleness composed by the children; the fourth graders in the sports field with an engaging game; the fifth graders in the gymnasium with a skit about the life of Main.
At the end, the prizegiving for the games and the bestowal to each school of the mandate of “Ambassador of gentleness”. After the official song of the celebration: “You are with us, Main”, a representative of each school along with a teacher went on stage to collect the prizes and a snack donated by two sponsors. The good synergy between the traffic police, the volunteers, and the Sisters allowed the 29 coaches to leave in an orderly fashion full of smiling and happy children for the unforgettable day of celebration.
The beautiful poem composed by the third-year classes of the Immaculate Institute of Novara remains engraved in the heart:
“Gentleness is like a magic key: it opens all doors.
Gentleness is like a spring flower: it perfumes all around.
Gentleness is like a caress: it lightens the heavy heart.
Gentleness is like a butterfly: it colors the world with beauty.
Gentleness is like the rainbow: it makes even a rainy day beautiful.
Gentleness is a treasure: it makes those who possess it rich in love.
Gentleness is the smile of the world”.