Rome (Italy). While the conflict is ongoing and the Ukrainian population is trying to save themselves, the Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, and the General Councilors continue to receive news from the FMA of the Communities of Ukraine, of Poland, and of Slovakia, committed to concrete aid and to welcoming people. Furthermore, there are numerous manifestations of solidarity, prayer, and generous support from the Educating Communities of the world.
In the community of Lviv the FMA, together with the volunteers and young people, prepared various bandages for the wounded soldiers, cutting the sheets into strips. It is a gesture that recalls that of Margherita, Don Bosco’s mother, who in Turin during the cholera epidemic of 1854, gave young people the most beautiful altar cloth to use as sheets for the sick. All the FMA remaining in Ukraine continue their mission, preparing food, hot tea, bandages, clothes, and necessities for the people and the soldiers. They pray and stay close to them and with them.
The FMA of St. John Bosco Province of Slovakia (SLK) and of the Polish Provinces of Mary Help of Christians (PLA) and Our Lady of Jasna Góra (PLJ), located on the border, move towards the stations and transit routes to help refugees in the more urgent needs. They act as interpreters, provide travel directions, prepare and distribute hot meals, and offer welcome to those who ask for hospitality for one night or for more days.
The sisters work in synergy with volunteers and other religious congregations, doing everything possible to alleviate the cold due to the rigid temperatures of these days and the tiredness of the people, who are truly grateful for what they receive. “There is a beautiful collaboration with other sisters and many people join as volunteers, there is great solidarity”, testifies an FMA. The sisters not directly involved support these initiatives with continuous prayer and the offering of their work.
The Polish Provinces share their testimony:
“Our communities have opened the doors of our houses. We have prepared about 100 places for families, especially for women with small children. Families can have a safe place, food, and everything they need. As a Province, we have been asked to welcome the children of the orphanages with their educators who have come away from Ukraine. The language of the heart helps us in the first contact.
In synergy with the Salesians of Don Bosco and Caritas, we participate and are involved in many initiatives. Our sisters go to the border, where they help with translations and bringing what is needed. In our schools, clothing and other goods are being collected. To help children fit into everyday life, schools offer Polish language lessons. We are in constant contact with the sisters of Mother of God Preprovince (EEG) who communicate the most urgent needs.
Our initiatives are supported by the young people of VIDES Poland, who are already thinking about organizing summer activities and various recreational moments for children and teenagers. The women who have found a home, immediately make themselves available to help those who arrive in the parishes. For us they are like a bridge that facilitates communication with the military and with the people left in Ukraine. They are also a source of new news and requests for help.
In the Polish people there is a great openness and the desire to help the brothers and sisters who are fleeing the war. We join in prayer to all the people, not only from our works but also from neighboring parishes. We thank our Institute for the support and for the prayer.”
Mother Chiara replied to the communications, thanking the FMA for all they are doing, “In this moment of suffering and fatigue for so many people, your presence is like a caress from God”.
The commitment to prayer is strongly felt by all the FMA communities in response to Mother’s invitation to “remain united in prayer and initiatives of solidarity, with the insistent and unanimous request for the gift of peace.”
In a Letter to consecrated men and women, the Prefect and the Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of the Apostolic Way, Card. João Braz de Aviz and Msgr. José Rodriguez Carballo, invite us to promote prayer for peace, “May incessant prayer be the ardent heart of each one and of everyone. Let us pray in solitude, in our communities, let us be promoters of occasions for prayer, let us do it, where possible, together with the brothers of the Christian churches, going to them to express our desire to share, let us involve others in prayer.”
The Provincials of the Middle East Europe Interprovincial Conference (CIME) proposed meeting in communion of prayer every day at 12:00 for a Hail Mary for peace followed by the ejaculation, “Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us”. “We can also invite children, young people to our works, the Salesian Family. So, at this moment all of us in Europe stop and join in prayer,” encourages CIME President, Sr. Petra Egeling.
There are numerous initiatives from the Salesian world to make themselves present in this dramatic situation. The Educating Communities all over the world are responding to the appeals for solidarity with great generosity, with initiatives, and gestures of affection that show the sensitivity of children, teenagers, young people, and families towards those who are living in a situation of danger and without a home.
The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians continues to offer the possibility of sending contributions and offerings, the documentation of which will be published, in the manner indicated on the Website of the FMA Institute, designating the Ukraine Emergency in the causal.
At the same time, we do not want to forget the FMA communities which, in the different parts of the world afflicted by war and violence, continue to spend themselves for the good of the people, especially children and young people.