Rome (Italy). On 14 July 2023, the group of young volunteers who from 3 to 15 July 2023, participated in the Formation Course in preparation for an international volunteer experience organized by the FVGS Onlus Foundation of VIDES International accredited by the “Department for Youth and the Universal Civil Service”, greeted and thanked Mary Help of Christians Community of the Rome General House (RCG) which hosted them.

Accompanied by Sister Annecie Audate, Director General of VIDES International, were 19 young people who came to Rome from all over Italy to get ready to live the great adventure of ten months abroad in eight communities of the missions of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, an experience of service that will allow them to acquire specific skills in the field of international solidarity and personal and professional growth. Eleven of them also stayed to sleep in the Generalate, eating their meals in fraternity with the FMA of the Community.

The young volunteers introduced themselves, announcing their destination: six will go to Madagascar to Ambajan and Ivato; three to Brazil, to Guaratinguetá; four to Santo Domingo; four to Costa Rica in the communities of San José and Nicoya; and two in Ecuador, in Manta. Almost none of them said knew the FMA and some are not believers, but all are eager to have a good experience of encounter and service.

Through a video, as an expression of gratitude to Sister Carla Castellino, Animator of the Community, and to the Sisters for having welcomed them and made them feel part of the Community, they then illustrated the formation activities carried out in these two weeks.

Sister Carla, interpreting the sisters, said that in the simplicity of daily life, they got on well with them and that Don Bosco said, “It is enough that you are young for him to love you.” And she explained to them, “This community, which normally has more than a hundred sisters from 28 nations on four continents, is unique in the world. Its mission, as Pope Francis said when he passed through this house on 22 October 2021, is to welcome and support”.

She then wished them to live their youth to the fullest by giving it, because when you give you receive, therefore not to be afraid to make the gifts received available. Echoing the theme of the Children’s Summer, which had just ended in the nearby Sacred Heart community of St. John Bosco Province (IRO), she underlined that hope does not disappoint, “And this is because you are hope. You are the hope! Live your life to the fullest for others.”

In conclusion, one of the young people, bringing the voice of the group, read the expressions of gratitude written by each one in a letter offered to the Animator, together with packets of sweets. Here are some of them:

“Thank you… for the chats and the advice… for welcoming us like sons and daughters, for making us feel at home… for your smiles, for your sweetness… for these special days and for your welcome… for the sense of familiarity you have transmitted to us… for having transmitted your joy to us, for sharing your experiences… Thank you Sisters, for having opened the doors of your home and your heart to us. You are our example of mission and gift. Live your lives where there is a need, without putting it off, but always with a smile. Thanks for the example.”

After the group photo, Sister Carla invited them to her office to show them how, already at the beginning of their stay in the house, she had placed their photos under the statue of the Our Lady, so that she would protect and accompany them. In saying goodbye, she invited them to come back next year to share their experience.

Once the formation is complete, the young people continue to prepare themselves with the documents, visas, and vaccines necessary to reach the mission lands, given that departures will begin at the end of August. The Community has made a commitment to accompany them with prayer throughout their experience.



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