Rome (Italy). On 24 October 2021 World Missionary Day is celebrated on the theme, We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4: 20). Established in 1926 by Pope Pius XI, it is celebrated all over the world every penultimate Sunday of October, the missionary month. In all the Salesian realities, October is dedicated to the deepening of missionary testimonies and missionary themes, and to the commitment of solidarity with concrete gestures in favor of the missions.
Sr. Ruth del Pilar Mora, Councilor for the Missions of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and a missionary in various Countries of the African continent, spoke during an interview of her experience based on the theme of the 2021 Day.
“We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard”: how does this phrase materialize in your life as a missionary?
The experience of a true encounter with Jesus is a gift that fills our hearts with amazement, with that irrepressible joy that can only be communicated. In my missionary life this is the source from which comes the passion to meet Jesus alive in the other in any place, time, and condition, with eyes and ears open to welcome His presence in the life of every person, in joys and sorrows, in projects and the efforts to carry them out.
This helps us to live in a ‘state of mission’ and is made concrete in the gestures of every day; a smile, a word of encouragement, an attentive and compassionate look, a listening that strengthens relationships, an openness to forgiveness received and given, a desire to walk together on the path of discipleship with the missionary spirit. Certainly, all this has in the community a place of constant learning, verification, and relaunching, in the commitment to bear witness to Jesus and to proclaim Him with tenderness and hope.
“What we have seen and heard”: what significance does it assume in the specifics of the FMA mission, in gratitude to the Founders and the pioneer sisters who “help us to renew our baptismal commitment to be generous and joyful apostles of the Gospel”?
Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello, Founders in love with the living Christ who is incarnated in the faces of the young/the poor but rich, full of dreams, of projects to be discovered and accompanied with patience and great passion, continue to give us the ability to listen to the young people, to undertake with them paths that allow us to meet the questions of meaning present in young people of all latitudes of the world.
I think that our standing next to and together with them will allow us to continue to dare to the point of recklessness, to walk paths that humanize, that celebrate the richness of the encounter with the other, the joy of belonging to a single family in a unique way.
What missionary challenges do the FMA face in this historical moment?
The challenges facing the FMA are those that especially affect women, children, and young people of the world along with their families. I am thinking of the educational-evangelizing implications which, as Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, consecrated educators, and as Educating Communities, affect our being and our action on the great themes that Pope Francis is entrusting to all those who care about the present and the future of our human community: integral ecology and universal fraternity, in which to recognize the dignity of every human being.
In them I glimpse extraordinary horizons in which to be present in a greater ‘we’, capable of weaving relationships and at the same time, enveloping the world with care, tenderness, and solidarity. All this must be lived in a perspective of processes and networks that value small steps and gradually create a culture permeated by the Gospel.
Invitation to the FMA and to the Educating Communities
The invitation on this World Mission Day is to have a heart open to listening to Jesus who calls us to come out of ourselves, to become experts in proximity and compassion in everyday life, to believe that with our life we can increase boundless joy and hope. In this way we will all be missionary disciples, capable of bringing the fire of God’s love to every brother and sister that He makes us meet on the roads of the world.