Asia and Africa. On 11 February 2023,  “Mary  Mazzarello & Laudato Si” Webinar was held, organized by the Youth Pastoral Sector of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, with the collaboration of the Salesian Institutions of Higher Education (ISS – FMA) of Asia and Africa.

The event was attended by more than 150 FMA, university professors, students, members of the Educating Communities of India, the Philippines, Japan, and Africa (Ethiopia and Kenya). After the welcome and the opening prayer conducted by Sr. Regina Mary Rathinaswamy, Sr. Ivone Goulart Lopes, collaborator of the Youth Ministry Sector of the FMA Institute and ISS-FMA contact person, greeted the participants, highlighting some aspects:

“The FMA Institute has its origins in the mystery of an entrustment. Don Bosco is reached by the appeal of Mary Help of Christians, ‘Take care of them, they are my daughters!’  Mary Mazzarello hears the call: ‘I entrust them to you’. The FMA accompany the young women and sisters who have been entrusted to them by God and by Mary as a precious treasure to be guarded and guided to fullness.

The ‘one-on-one pedagogy’ integrates with attention to the community as a whole, developing skills of coordination, organization, and leadership. Mother Mazzarello’s line of animation and government is clear: first the people and then the works! It is a presence that she welcomes. In each person she discovers that ‘deposit of pure gold’ to be valued and conceives animation as a way to highlight it. Hers is a ‘valorizing’ gaze.

A presence that knows and loves every person, as Enrichetta Sorbone pointed out, ‘She looked like a real gardener in her government, to see which flowers she had to plant or transplant. When she saw that one wasn’t very suitable in one office, she put her in another.’ A presence that takes care – the category of ‘taking care’ is one of those that best define Mary Mazzarello as an animator and mother. A presence that knows how to move from words to dialogue.  Conversation is the privileged space for personal accompaniment, for personalized guidance. ‘One must study the innate aspects and know how to understand them to succeed; one must inspire confidence’ (L 25,2). The solution it implements is the wisest and most respectful of people, the most favorable to their growth”.

Sr. Lolia Annie Pfozhumai, collaborator of the Sector, then intervenes on “Mary Mazzarello & Laudato Si'” underlining that “in the Valponasca farmhouse, where Mary Mazzarello became an adolescent and spent her youth, formed her life in close connection with nature and her family.

The pure air of the countryside, the hardships of the earth, the sun of the Monferrato hills, the domestic atmosphere, the discreet proximity of Mornese, pushed her to be a hardworking, ardent, and vibrant woman with new ideals that for a long time remained a secret to everyone. Hard work, prayer, a simple and austere life are the essential components that formed and prepared Mary Mazzarello for the future. Only the winding paths and the rising sun between the valleys and cliffs, from the Valponasca farmhouse to the village of Mornese, could weave the life of the young woman.

This amazement in front of nature will be preserved and valued for life. Even on her deathbed, observing the beauty of the countryside from the window, she will be able to grasp the beauty of nature as a reflection of eternal beauty. The well-known question addressed to the father, ‘What did God do before creating the world? – not on the essence, but on the activity of God before creation, is one of the most significant texts regarding her religious sense and is one of the most interesting questions, because it arises from her intimacy with God, the Creator of the Universe.

The resonance of the father’s answer, ‘God contemplated Himself, loved Himself, adored Himself’, shows how the authentic sense of divine transcendence strongly influenced her childhood soul, right up to adulthood. For MM, life is a ‘battlefield’, a time in which the person matures the response to God and lives life to the fullest. Thanks to this optimistic conception of the existence of life, MM was able to face the complex weaving of life; the characteristic attitude of serene joy, which arose from within, she cultivated in herself and in others, as a virtue of the strong, the courageous.

Today Mary Domenica Mazzarello teaches us an educational style: she challenges us to become men and women who have the courage and patience to weave authentic and profound interpersonal relationships, to ‘take care’, to love and be loved, striving to set the conditions that promote the culture of life and the civilization of peace and love”.

After a time of interaction with the participation of Sr. Runita Borja, General Councilor for Youth Ministry of the FMA Institute, she concluded the Webinar, leaving the message ‘SING’ before the beauty and goodness of creation, sing – through some key words:

SILENCE. Take time to be silent, take a moment each day to unplug from social media. Go offline and enjoy nature, enjoy the company of people ‘face to face’. Think carefully before replying to social media posts.

INTERVENE. Commit to action to improve your community. Hear the voice of those who are excluded in your family, friends, school, and community. The poor and the excluded are not people far from you. There are always people we don’t like; these are the ‘poor’ we are called to listen to in order to respond to their cries.

FEED. Take care of nature. God created human beings as part of creation. Therefore, as humans, we are related to the rest of creation. We use our intellect and free will to respect, protect, use well, and give continuity to the rest of creation.

GRATITUDE. God created the world; God created us out of pure goodness. The only adequate response is gratitude. Grateful people are happy people, they see the goodness around them and spread hope even in difficult situations, because they bring out the presence of God even in small gestures.

Some young students of the Auxilium College of Education in Katpadi of the Indian Province of St. Thomas the Apostle (INM) expressed their appreciation as follows:

“The webinar was very informative and made us discover many things about Mary Mazzarello, her sacrifice and her desire to be at the service of girls”. Nivetha

“I learned a lot from this seminar on Mary Mazzarello, who encourages her daughters to have ‘a big and generous heart'”. Mary


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