Nizza Monferrato (Italy). On 26 April 2022, on the last day of the World Feast of Gratitude celebrated in Turin, Mornese, Nizza, from 24 to 26 April, the Mayor of Nizza Monferrato, Simone Nosenzo, awarded honorary citizenship to the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Mother Chiara Cazzuola, Superior of the Institute, received the keys to the city in the name of all the FMA.
With some General Councilors, the Provincials of Europe, the Animators of the Province of Mary Help of Christians (IPI), and the young women in formation, Mother General lived a day of immersion in the atmosphere of the origins and in the liveliness of the present mission of the Mother House of the FMA Institute.
Mother Chiara was welcomed in a festive atmosphere by the young students of the Our Lady of Grace Institute, from the children of the Spring section to the students of the lower High School, and to the young people of Professional Formation, by the children of the Primary and High Schools of First years of Alexandria Guardian Angel, and of Mother Mazzarello Primary School of Asti, by the young people of the Professional Courses of the CFP of Casale Monferrato and of Alessandria, and by the Sisters with most years at Mother Mazzarello Community of Nizza.
While for the little ones the feast continued with tournaments and games, animated by Egidio Carlomagno, responsible for the Animando sector of the E.T. Cooperative, by teachers, animators, and the FMA novices, Mother had a meeting with the Provincials, the Animators, and the FMA present. She confided to them that, “Being here is exciting, because it makes us think back to our entire history, to the origins, to the humility of the beginnings. Since the death of Mother Mazzarello there has been an explosion of presences, and we know that she gave her life for the fruitfulness and fidelity of the Institute.” She shared some reflections on the generativity of Mary Domenica Mazzarello and on Mary, model of maternal solicitude in the implementation of the Preventive System (cf. Const. 7).
“Piedmont, in addition to preserving the history of its origins, has a living mission entrusted to the FMA”, recalled Sr. Emma Bergandi, Provincial of the IPI Province. The students and Formators then accompanied Mother and the whole group in the visit to the environments and equipment of the Professional Formation Center: the laboratory for the professional qualification of wellness-aesthetic operator, the aeroponic greenhouse, the desiccator, the sensory path, the work area for gardens and fruit orchards. In the meantime, the young people from the Professional Courses of Casale Monferrato, Alessandria, and Tortona professionally prepared a buffet with typical local products, using what they learned during the lessons.
In the afternoon, the students of the Secondary School of Nizza animated a group tour in the rooms of the Mother House, introduced by a historical re-enactment carried out by the theater company ‘alla Madonna’ of the FMA-IPI historical archive in Nizza dialect, embellished by the exhibition of the children of the Primary School in the typical Monferrato dance. The little flag-wavers of Costigliole d’Asti concluded the commemoration.
The groups involved in the historical journey, with the children and teenagers of the School, parents, and grandparents, who then gathered for the Eucharistic Celebration,
presided over by the Bishop of Asti Msgr. Marco Prastaro and animated by the Don Bosco choir. In his homily, commenting on the passage from the Wedding at Cana, the Bishop addressed the FMA saying, “May Our Lady walk in this house. Dear Sisters, you will continue to be this presence of the Virgin, insofar as you continue to see the needs, to still be this voice that says, ‘They have no more wine, there is no more joy’, and to tell Jesus. This attention to concrete needs must enhance your life. 150 years ago, your Congregation was born precisely in response to the problems of young women. Our Lady walks among us to the extent that we are able to see a need, as a mother does.”
At the end of the Holy Mass, the flag-wavers of Nizza Monferrato opened the procession, led by the President of the Municipal Council, Maurizio Martino, along the streets of the city, up to the Foro Boario, where the Mayor, Simone Nosenzo, the Municipal Council, and the very youthful Mayor of the Young, welcomed Mother General and awarded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians honorary citizenship. This is the motivation for this recognition to the FMA Institute, read by the President of the City Council:
“The desire for this recognition stems from an acknowledgment of gratitude for what was received from the FMA by the Nizza territory and for how much the name of Nizza has spread throughout the world thanks to its founders and to the works that the Sisters have exported all over the world. Particularly noteworthy is the Central House of Foreign Missions and the “Our Lady of Grace” Institute which has formed numerous missionaries and forged numerous professional teachers and educators through school and professional formation. In fact, the city of Nizza Monferrato is linked to the FMA Institute and its founders even before the foundation of the Congregation. Don Bosco, already in 1871, was a guest of the town at the hunting lodge of the Conti Corsi and he met several times with the Mayor Filippo Fabiani, who would have liked to open a boarding school for boys right in the city. In 1877 Don Bosco, giving life and luster to the convent of the Franciscan friars and to the annexed Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace, established a place of education for young women, through schools, oratories, professional formation, and last but not least, a place of prayer and Christian formation. With the arrival of Mother Mazzarello in Nizza, the Franciscan Convent became the Mother House and until 1929, the Generalate. From its origins, the religious community inserted itself into the area to be a living and life-giving presence for the young people and families of the territory, both in emergency situations such as the flooding of the Belbo and Rio Nizza or during the typhus pandemic, and in the ordinary routine of life through the education, instruction, and formation of young people of all ages.”
The Mayor gave the keys of the city to Mother Chiara Cazzuola who, recalling with emotion the communities scattered around the world, especially in situations of war, injustice, and poverty, symbolically present, said: “The Institute of the FMA owes a lot to city of Nizza for having made it possible to find here an environment in which to develop. Mornese is the House of the Foundation, but the House that gave impetus and shape to the Charism from an educational and pedagogical point of view is precisely this one. … We feel at home in this city.”
With this official recognition, the World Feast of Gratitude ended at the places of the origins of the FMA Institute on the 150th anniversary of Foundation in which, as Mother Chiara underlined several times over the three days, all the FMA and the Educating Communities present in the five continents were represented by the encounter with children, young people, FMA, and youth of many origins.
Photos: Flickr FMA