Verona (Italy). The Missions sector of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, in agreement with some Italian Provincials, promoted the participation of some FMA missionaries ad gentes in Italy and Italian FMA missionaries ad gentes who have returned to Italy, in the Formation Courses promoted by Mission CUM Foundation, the Mission sector of the Italian Episcopal Conference called the Unitary Center for Missionary Formation, in collaboration with the SUAM (United Secretariat for Missionary Animation).
From 23 to 28 October 2023, in Verona, at San Fidenzio Diocesan Center for Spirituality, three sisters who are missionaries ad gentes in Italy participated in the Pastoral Updating Course (2nd level) for foreign missionaries working in the country. From 5 to 11 November, three other Italian sisters who returned to Italy after several years of mission in Africa and Albania, participated in the ongoing formation Course for missionaries returning to Italy.
The participants appreciated the strong experience of communion with other missionaries, useful for reflecting on the preciousness of the years spent outside Italy or for being able to grasp the pastoral characteristics of the Italian Church in which they have been inserted for some years. Sharing with priests and consecrated women of other religious Institutes contributed to strengthening the spirit of synodality, beyond their own Institute or Diocese to which they belong.
In addition to interventions by experts and testimonies, the courses were first of all places to encourage the knowledge and interaction of the participants in dialogue on the text of the encyclical Fratelli Tutti, particularly stimulating for reading the reality of this time and updating oneself on the pastoral challenges that follow.
At the same time, the formation courses have the objective of accompanying the missionaries in a particular moment of their life and of facilitating their insertion into the changed Italian social and ecclesial reality. For the ecclesial entities that sent them for the Returnees Course, they are also an opportunity for missionary renewal.
The FMA who participated expressed their gratitude for having had the opportunity to participate in these Missionary Formation Courses because, through the residential modality, they experienced that dialogue and the exchange of experiences are essential elements of their being missionaries ad gentes in the different Italian pastoral contexts in which they are inserted.