Rome (Italy). From 8 to 10 September 2023, the Missions Sector of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, with the members of the Global Misso Team, animated the online formation meetings for the Provincial Coordinators of the Missions and for the Missionaries ad Gentes of all the Provinces of the world, foreseen in the planning of the 2022-2027 six-year period of the General Council.
The theme developed in the meetings, which took place across continents, was that of Integral Ecology with the missiological-pastoral intervention, “Me and Mother Earth, the Ocean And The Climate” by Msgr. Luciano Capelli, Bishop of the Diocese of Gizo of the Solomon Islands until June 2023, and the sharing of the good practices of the FMA presence in the South Pacific by the Sisters of the Samoan Islands. With the coordination of Sister Anna Maria Gervasoni, missionary of the Pacific Region Province of Mary Help of Christians (SPR), it was possible to carry out the presentation of these interventions in the different times in which the formation took place.
In her opening greeting, Sister Ruth del Pilar Mora, General Councilor for the Missions, starting from the experience of Saint Francis of Assisi, the first singer of the beauty of creation, urged us to “go around the world to sing this praise for the Lord and console the hearts of men and women.” Sister Ruth then launched a concrete challenge:
“Today, listening to the cry of the poor and of the earth, the degradation of nature, of rivers, the growing disappearance of diversity, the unbridled consumption of fossil fuels, the destruction of forests that are raising temperatures and causing drought, is there still room for praise? May our eyes still be able to contemplate many wonders. May our hearts vibrate before the beauty of Creation to express praise, and also to transform our lifestyles and no longer be masters who exploit, but guardians who take care and make themselves responsible for the future of the Planet. It means feeling that Salesian imperative in a positive sense, ‘It’s my turn, it’s your turn, it’s up to all of us who care about the fate of Creation'”.
Monsignor Luciano Capelli, in his presentation on the basis of personal experience, invited the participants to a time of discernment and personal reflection on how to remedy the disasters caused to our Mother Earth with a strong conversion, a transformation of the heart.
The Bishop continued, “It is necessary to help the most powerful to use their conscience and stop finding poor excuses that do not allow them to make executive decisions that could ‘damage their wallet’. This is the work of the Church, which must help people understand and stop behaving like the owners of the Earth’s goods, abusing them, in order to maintain unsustainable levels of luxury and treat people as objects”.
In conclusion he urged, “a strong cultural and educational change, a real paradigm shift that makes something on which everyone agrees a reality. The Earth is like a sister and is beautiful like a mother who welcomes us into her arms. We can all work together as God’s instruments to heal”.
The participation of the Coordinators and Missionaries ad Gentes in the meetings was numerous and lively with around 350 FMA from all over the world, who await these moments to be able to see and greet each other through the webcam, and at the same time are eager to participate to strengthen and nourish synergy with the entire Institute.
Entire communities were also present, who chose this opportunity to rekindle the fire of missionary passion, the sense of belonging to the Institute, and communion with all the sisters to look together at the planet as a homeland and at humanity as people who live in a common home, taking care of nature that is essential to life.
“When we are able to overcome individualism, an alternative lifestyle can actually be produced and a significant change in society becomes possible” (Pope Francis, LS 208).