Vatican City. On the morning of Sunday, October 19, a large group of Chapter Members went to St. Peter’s Square to take part in the Eucharist celebrated by Pope Francis. On this day marking the conclusion of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, he declared his predecessor, Paul VI, Blessed.
Paul VI was a great promoter of the family and of life. Throughout his pontificate, with great responsibility, he felt the urgent need to accompany social and cultural transformations regarding the family from a Gospel perspective. In the EncyclicalHumanae vitae (July 25, 1968) he stated: «The pastoral care of the family has become most timely, demanding and, at the same time, fruitful in beneficial and lasting results». The miracle attributed to his intercession and approved on May 7 last, is in perfect harmony with his Magisterium. «It is a sign that God protects even from the womb, from the moment at which life begins. For God, human life has a non negotiable value», Antonio Marrazzo, the Postulator of the cause explained.
Paul VI always nourished a most tender and all-embracing love for Christ, the Church and the human person. This was the distinguishing trait of his spiritual stature, what best characterised his constant and total tending towards the heights, towards the light, towards God. This man, apparently frail in body and shy in temperament, humble, but great in his heroic Christian virtue, journeyed through the life of the Church and the world in the twentieth century, committed to a constant task of making possible what, in 1975, he had defined as the “civilisation of love”.
During the Beatification ceremony, Pope Francis, in his homely, highlighted the extraordinary humility of Paul VI: «It is not our weak and inexpert hand that is at the helm of the barque of Peter, but the invisible but strong and loving hand of the Lord Jesus. Maybe the Lord has called me to this service, not because I have some aptitude, or that I may govern and save the Church from its difficulties, but that I may suffer something for the Church, and that it may be clear that He and no other guides and saves it».
A strong spiritual bond united Don Bosco to Pope Montini. Paul VI defined the great Piedmontese educator as an «authentic protagonist of the history of Italy and of the Church». From the immediate post-war period, the then Monsignor Montini, as Under-Secretary of State, began to collaborate with the SDB and FMA, who were assisting the “sciuscià”, the army of orphans and abandoned children that populated parts of the city. Thus the idea was born of establishing the «Don Bosco Boy’s Town» in Rome, at Forte Prenestino.
It was Paul VI who, on October 29, 1966, on the occasion of a pastoral visit to the Nuovo Salario Quarter in Rome, blessed the foundation stone of the Pedagogical Institute, which later became the Generalate of the Congregation of the FMA.
In the extraordinary audience of July 15, 1972, which he granted to the FMA for the centenary of the foundation of the Institute, he stated: «In you we see the uninterrupted continuation and the splendid flowering of an ideal of charity and zeal that blossomed on that far away August 5, 1872 through the work of St. John Bosco and St. Maria Mazzarello, when the first Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of Mornese, offered their young lives to the Lord and began their apostolic journey along the roads of the world. […] Will your Congregation be capable of responding to the appeal of the Church in the tempest that now enwraps it? What means will it use to ensure that the ancient vitality of the robust tree, planted by your Founders, may continue to flourish in all its fullness? My dear Daughters, there is only one response to these questions, which, as it explains the extraordinary fruitfulness of the past, also infallibly assures the vitality of your Institute in the future: holiness.
Oh, how we would love to see preserved among you, in all its primitive freshness, the distinctively Marian characteristic that, everywhere, constitutes the unmistakeably trait of the spirituality of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. You have the privilege of belonging to a religious family that belongs totally to Mary and owes everything to Mary. Is your Institute not the living monument that Don Bosco wanted to erect to the Madonna, as a perennial sign of his gratitude for the benefits he received from her?»
The Beatification of this great Pope is a cause for joy and hope for the whole Institute, which recognises in him, a powerful intercessor in the mission to which it is called in this time of extraordinary renewal.
Costruire una casa aperta e solidale
“La nostra casa è un cantiere aperto in cui lo Spirito Santo orienta ad una profonda formazione spirituale, intellettuale, comunitaria e apostolica”.
In questi giorni, dedicati ai lavori di approfondimento del tema capitolare, abbiamo chiesto a suor Maria del Carmen Canales di condividere alcune riflessioni e l’esperienza del Capitolo.
1. Quali sono le attese e le sfide dei giovani di oggi?
Mi domandate quali sono le attese e le sfide dei giovani di oggi e cerco di presentarle a partire dalle narrazioni in tanti dialoghi e incontri che ho avuto con loro in molte parti del mondo. Ho percepito in tanti e tante giovani:
l’attesa di una speranza di fronte ad un mondo che sembra senza futuro.
L’attesa di pace per troppi giovani che vivono situazioni di guerra, violenza, ingiustizia…
L’attesa di poter ‘essere voce’ ascoltata perché tante situazioni cambino davvero.
L’attesa di poter essere amati e di amare sul serio.
L’attesa di un lavoro, una professione in cui realizzarsi ed esprimere le proprie potenzialità e ricchezze.
L’attesa di poter essere insieme ‘coscienza’ di bene, per la vita, la giustizia, la legalità, il bene di tutti.
L’attesa di semplicità e sobrietà nella vita quotidiana, che alimentano la vera felicità.
L’attesa di sentire presente il Dio della vita abbondante, nella loro vita.
L’attesa di adulti veri, che sappiano mettersi a fianco con umiltà, imparando accanto ai giovani, ai piccoli, ai poveri, camminando accanto, senza risposte già confezionate da dare, bensì con la voglia di cercare insieme e creare nuove vie per rispondere alle grandi questioni mondiali, così come alle ordinarie e quotidiane situazioni che vivono con gli amici, in famiglia, nel discernimento del progetto di Dio sulla loro vita.
Le sfide che vi comunico le ho ascoltate da adolescenti e giovani che appartengono a realtà diverse, addirittura completamente opposte tra loro: per questo mi interpellano ancora di più come educatrice.
Sono la sfida della paura del presente e del futuro,
la sfida di essere abbandonati da uno dei genitori o da entrambi… ed in alcuni contesti di essere venduti come merce,
la sfida di non poter accedere alla cultura, e dover lavorare fin da piccoli, senza poter vivere l’infanzia e la fanciullezza,
la sfida del limite, dell’incertezza, dell’ignoto,
la sfida di entrare nell’esperienza profondamente sofferta di bambine e giovani abusate e violentate, ragazze-madri, bambini e adolescenti-soldato,
la sfida del vivere la fraternità e l’amicizia,
la sfida del creare opportunità lavorative,
la sfida del formare relazioni, creare una famiglia, diventare adulti, padri e madri capaci di generare vita abbondante,
la sfida di credere in Dio e sentire la sua lontananza,
la sfida di fidarsi degli altri, degli adulti, di Dio,
la sfida di alimentare la propria interiorità e credere in modo serio, da adulti, confrontandosi con il Vangelo e con altre persone credenti.
2. Qual è la difficoltà e la sfida per mettersi in dialogo con i giovani?
Dialogando con educatrici, educatori, genitori e anche personalmente, spesso percepiamo la difficoltà di non saperci de-centrare da noi stessi per poter davvero accogliere le giovani e i giovani così come sono, di non saper cambiare con loro.
È la difficoltà di non saper metterci da parte per lasciare che siano i giovani a crescere, a porsi delle domande, a confrontarsi con noi sul senso della vita, a orientarsi verso mete che permettano loro di uscire da se stessi per condividere con altri talenti, fede, servizio.
Mi fa pensare molto il fatto che le scelte di vita di molti adulti non dicano nulla ai giovani e non li orientino verso delle scelte personali.
La sfida più impegnativa è quella di accompagnarli delicatamente e con tenerezza, ascoltando davvero le loro invocazioni, senza voler subito trovare noi le risposte, ma ricercandole insieme, con pazienza, credendo in loro, con lo stile di Gesù risorto sulla strada verso Emmaus… Questo stile permette di fare cammino insieme con tanti, di scoprire insieme la sorgente dell’interiorità, di creare cammini anche nelle situazioni più dure e difficili, di credere insieme che la speranza accompagna la crescita nella fede e nell’amore del Dio di Gesù Cristo.
Grazie per avermi dato la possibilità, in questo periodo Capitolare, di condividere con voi qualcosa di ciò che c’è nel cuore di tanti e tante giovani che ho incontrato e incontro.
Suor Maria del Carmen Canales
Consigliera per la Pastorale giovanile
Rome. Today the Chapter members and laity shared a significant time in the Chapter session with the presence of a group of young representatives of the different European provinces. They come from various countries of Europe, but were present in the name of the young people of the different Countries of the world.
On the evening of the 10th the encounter began with a time of mutual getting to know one another and the presentation of the young people of the CIEM, CII, CIEP Conferences and representatives of the Auxilium. The presentation unfolded in an original way to the rhythm of music. It was a moment lived in the sign of Salesian celebration, and was concluded with the words of Mother Yvonne who said among other things: “Finding ourselves here together makes us happy, and this evening our joy is complete because the young people are with us. We were waiting for you, because we cannot live without you. The sign of our encounter is joy, because a Salesian house/home cannot exist without joy. It is very beautiful to think that the whole world is here, every continent is represented by FMA, laypersons, and young people. I hope that you will allow yourselves to be touched by this experience and to live it together intensely”.
On the morning of October 11th, FMA, laity, and young people found themselves together to praise the Lord of life in the Eucharistic Celebration to the joyous rhythm of an African dance.
At the beginning of the work Mother expressed her joy at finding the Assembly together with the young people in listening to their expectations and hopes. “To you, young people especially, I want to say that you have been the center of our attention from the time of our choice of a Chapter theme: “To be with today’s young people a home that evangelizes”. The evangelizer is the whole educating community, but the real evangelizers are the young people themselves. We adults are-or should be-leaders, facilitators, discreet and coherent witnesses. We cannot think of a home that evangelizes without young people. The future belongs to those who have wings to fly and firm roots, Today we want to build together the ‘home’ of dreams and signs!”.
There was then presented a synthesis of the reflections from the previous day with the laity, and there were highlighted the key words of “being an Educating Community impassioned for the charism”: accompaniment, listening, smile, networking with people, citizens of the Internet, welcome, Preventive System…
During the morning the central moment was that of listening to the young people who offered their thoughts on the 4 questions of the Working Document: How are we to proclaim Jesus in a changing world, to a generation that is changing? What is the new vision of the community with young people? What prophecy of religious life is asked of us? How are we to find ourselves in the culture of communication?
They highlighted the beauty of being first of all the beauty of being a community on a journey, and a “house/home” consisting of four pillars: welcome, motherliness, witness and prayer; being with young people where they are, and sharing the same language, even through the new media; proclaiming to the young people that God loves them even in the struggle and precariousness of life; listening to young people and their search for meaning; accompanying them to the encounter with Jesus.
Every report was is followed by an exchange of ideas in small groups, and then a time of sharing on what emerged from the exchange. At the end of the morning, each group prepared a tweet to express all the richness of the experience of reflection and discussion together (www.facebook.com/pages/Figlie-di-Maria-Ausiliatrice-Salesiane-di-Don-Bosco – #CasaConIgiovani).
In the afternoon, FMA, laity and young people, met in language groups, to respond to a single question: What must we do “To be a home that evangelizes with the young people” as an EC, which changes must we make, which attitudes are we to empower, particularly in relationships, such as the priorities of the mission, and toward which peripheries are we to go? From the findings that emerged in the groups on this theme a final synthesis was presented in the concluding assembly with a successive dialogue.
In the program of the day a few young people of the Cinecircoli Giovanili Socioculturali (CGS) shared the experience of the Chapter in their desire to be able to tell other young people about it through a simple video interview.
In the evening in the Auditorium of the Generalate the young people of Livorno presented the recital “You are with us” on Mother Mazzarello.
Roma (Italia).Oggi 22 settembre presso la Casa generalizia a Roma, si è aperto ufficialmente il 23° Capitolo generale delle Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice, sul tema “Essere oggi con i giovani casa che evangelizza”.
Alla cerimonia hanno partecipato diverse autorità ecclesiastiche e religiose: il Card. João Braz de Aviz, Prefetto della Congregazione per gli Istituti di Vita Consacrata e le Società di Vita Apostolica; i Cardinali Tercisio Bertone e Raffaele Farina; don Ángel Fernandez Artime, Rettor Maggiore della Congregazione salesiana con il suo Vicario don Francesco Cereda e altri Consiglieri generali, con molti Confratelli salesiani; rappresentanti dei vari gruppi della Famiglia salesiana, giovani, novizie salesiane, FMA partecipanti al Capitolo generale XXIII e altre rappresentanti di tutte le FMA di Roma e del mondo.
La giornata è iniziata con la Celebrazione eucaristica presieduta dal Rettor Maggiore dei Salesiani don Ángel e concelebrata da don Francesco, Vicario generale e dal Segretario del Rettor Maggiore.
Nell’introduzione è stata evocata la “casa”, luogo di accoglienza e di comunione, di relazione e condivisione della fede, luogo dove si vive lo spirito di famiglia. La centralità dell’ascolto della Parola ha simboleggiato l’accoglienza e l’invocazione di luce e discernimento del sogno di Dio per l’Istituto.
Nell’omelia il Rettor Maggiore ha fatto riferimento a tre immagini richiamate nel Vangelo del giorno: luce, trasparenza delle mura e tesoro. Tre spinte per essere nella vita quotidiana, con i giovani e per i giovani, costruttrici di una casa accogliente, di porte spalancate, di ardore missionario e di condivisione e sincero affetto.
Al momento dell’offertorio, la Madre e le Consigliere sono state chiamate a porre le loro mani sull’altare, segno che tutto l’Istituto è presente nel gesto di consegna e offerta, con la ricchezza della diversità e dell’universalità. Al termine della messa la Madre ha consegnato alle Presidenti una luce e le Consigliere generali hanno offerto a ciascuna Capitolare un piccolo mattone, simbolo della partecipazione e collaborazione alla realizzazione del Capitolo.
Il momento ufficiale dell’inaugurazione è iniziato con la sfilata delle bandiere: un’immagine vivace per dire che tutto il mondo delle fma è chiamato a vivere l’evento capitolare come un momento importante nel cammino dell’Istituto. Con vivo entusiasmo e partecipazione è stata cantata l’invocazione allo Spirito Santo.
Madre Yvonne Reungoat ha dato il suo Benvenuto a tutti i presenti dicendo: «Sono lieta della vostra presenza in mezzo a noi, segno di stima e apprezzamento nei confronti dell’Istituto che oggi celebra l’inizio ufficiale del Capitolo generale XXIII. Il vostro essere qui ci onora e ci incoraggia a vivere l’esperienza capitolare come evento ecclesiale e carismatico. Il tema del Capitolo – essere oggi con i giovani casa che evangelizza – sarà il cuore della preghiera, della riflessione e del discernimento che condivideremo nell’Assemblea capitolare. Questo tema risponde al nucleo più profondo della nostra identità carismatica ed è in sintonia con il cammino della Chiesa rilanciato dal Sinodo dei Vescovi sulla Nuova evangelizzazione e dalle sollecitazioni di Papa Francesco, che invita i giovani ad essere protagonisti della loro vita, artéfici del presente e del futuro della Chiesa e della società.
La speranza è la prospettiva da cui guardiamo il mondo, ascoltiamo il suo grido, ci lasciamo interpellare dalle sue sfide, dalle nuove e vecchie povertà che lo minacciano non solo sul piano economico, ma su quello umano, culturale, sociale, religioso. Con i giovani e con tutta la comunità educante ci impegniamo a costruire la casa della fraternità attraverso rapporti umanizzanti, animati dalla spiritualità del Sistema preventivo di don Bosco».
A seguire c’è stato il saluto del Cardinal João BRAZ de AVIZ, che ha offerto una riflessione sulla Vita Consacrata, parte integrante della Chiesa, evidenziando le tre dimensioni su cui è necessario puntare: tornare in modo profondo e trasparente alla sequela Christi, vivere l’essenzialità del carisma del Fondatore e aprirsi alla cultura attuale. Ha poi concluso con un augurio: «Che il Padre abiti con voi: se vi sentite a casa, siete casa anche per i giovani».
Anche don Ángel, il Rettor Maggiore, ha rivolto il suo saluto alle Capitolari e si è rallegrato per l’avvio del Capitolo, che avviene in un momento storico, all’interno dell’Anno Bicentenario della nascita di don Bosco e alle porte dell’anno dedicato alla Vita Consacrata, e ha concluso: «Il desiderio di essere oggi con i giovani casa che evangelizza, vi richiederà, senza dubbio, come viene chiesto a tutti nella vita religiosa, una scelta coraggiosa verso una esistenza vissuta in radicalità evangelica, superando nostalgie del passato per continuare avanzando verso un presente e un futuro carico di fecondità.
Come quei discepoli che nel cammino verso Emmaus hanno vissuto un’esperienza di vita trasformante, anche voi abbiate la forza di aderire totalmente alla persona di Gesù e di assumere con gioia la missione che Egli vi affida: prolungare la sua presenza ed essere Buona Notizia con i giovani e per i giovani; essere cioè, discepole missionarie, affinché tutti si sentano in casa. L’incontro con i giovani diventa per noi il luogo apostolico dell’incontro con Gesù. Il Signore vi benedica».
Molti i rappresentanti di gruppi della Famiglia salesiana presenti, che nei loro saluti hanno espresso vicinanza all’Istituto, sottolineando l’importanza del tema scelto.
Due giovani dell’Ispettoria romana, Anna e Jacopo, a nome di tutti i coetanei del mondo, hanno letto il loro messaggio alle FMA: «Voi siete per noi testimonianza di quella “casa fondata sulla Roccia”, in cui l’Amore di Dio si manifesta nella comunione fraterna, segno tangibile che affascina i giovani e che li fa sentire a casa. Uno spirito di famiglia che ti contagia e che passo dopo passo, ti permette di varcare quella “porta stretta” che conduce all’incontro con Gesù ed è allora che riconosci che il carisma ti è stato dato in dono, in quei gesti quotidiani che hanno accompagnato la tua crescita. Così ogni gesto e attenzione ai più piccoli, trova un senso nuovo: la gioia vera di essere strumento di evangelizzazione. Accanto a voi ci sentiamo protagonisti di una comune missione educativa, essere per altri giovani casa che evangelizza».
Al termine, Madre Yvonne, verificata l’attuazione degli adempimenti prescritti dalle Costituzioni e dai Regolamenti, ha dichiarato ufficialmente aperto il Capitolo generale XXIII dell’Istituto delle FMA.
La cerimonia si è conclusa con il canto a Maria eseguito dalle novizie FMA dei Noviziati di Castelgandolfo e di Roma.
Nel pomeriggio le Capitolari si sono ritrovate in Aula capitolare per la presentazione del Regolamento e del Cronogramma del CG XXIII. A seguire, tutte nelle Commissioni per le elezioni della Presidente, Vice-presidente, Segretaria e Scrutatrice.
La giornata si conclude con la celebrazione del Vespro e il solenne giuramento.
We interviewed Sr. Veronica Nwe Ni Moe, from the Province of Mary Our Help, Cambodia-Myanmar (CMY). Sr. Veronica is the youngest Chapter Member, and is participating for the first time as an invited guest. She is 34 years old and has been professed for 12 years. She is the animator of the community of St. Mary Mazzarello of AnisKan where there are 2 aspirants, 3 pre-aspirants, 49 girls in hardship situations who are frequenting the sewing course, and a boarding school with 150 children. The FMA also carry out oratory , afterschool activities for poor children, and Sunday catechism.
What did you think when you received the invitation to participate in the Chapter ?
I was very moved when the invitation arrived because in all my life I would never have imagined that I would live this experience of grace, of the Holy Spirit, of family, and of formation. I feel blessed and loved by God for having chosen me, and I am aware of a profound sense of gratitude for la Madre and the Sisters of my province for the trust they have in me, notwithstanding my frailty. I will participate in the Chapter with simplicity, joy, openness of heart and mind, and a sense of responsibility because the young Sisters and young people of Myanmar are waiting for me to share with them this experience of renewal in the light of the Gospel.
What did the Sisters of your community and the young people in formation tell you?
We are 9 Sisters in community, 4 with perpetual vows and 5 temporary professed. Like a sister among sisters, I seek to love Jesus and make Him loved by them and the young people. The FMA and the young aspirants were very happy, and they asked me to speak for them of our reality, to listen and to participate with my whole self so that I could communicate to them the beauty of the experience, and the content through the Internet, and they assured me of their continual prayer.
In order to follow the Chapter online they must go to a little nearby city, fifteen minutes by car, to have the possibility of a connection. They asked me to thank and embrace la Madre and the Sisters of the Council who visited us, and they asked me to renew the invitation of a future visit. They said simply to greet Mother Mazzarello when I go to Mornese, and to tell her that they are happy to belong completely to Jesus, and to be able to build, together with the young people, houses of love and joy, sowing the seed of the Salesian charism in our land.
What are your expectations for the chapter?
During the Chapter I want to listen to what God and the Holy Spirit want to teach me, and then to share what I am and what God has given me. I hope that this time will be for all an experience lived in company with the Holy Spirit that always indicates what Jesus wants for the good of the world, the Church, our Sisters, the educating communities, the young people , and the poor. I also believe that renewed in the Gospel I will be able to share the family spirit and the joy of being an FMA completely given to the young people
I wish to grow in evangelical radicality and loving kindness, to be a simple, joyful FMA for Jesus and for young people.
Do you have a message for the young people of the world?
I want to tell every young person of the world: “The God who lives in you loves you very much, and so do I, together with Don Bosco and Domenica Mazzarello, I love you very much. Pause for a little to listen and find yourself in the depth of your heart, where God is waiting to give you His love.
Have the courage to go out of yourself to experience the true joy and the meaning of your life. The Church, Don Bosco, and Maria Mazzarello need you. Whenever possible leave the Internet, and you will be able to build relationships that are more humanizing, authentic, beautiful and lasting ,giving and receiving love.
“Viva Gesù and Maria” to all young people in the Salesian world, be aware of God’s presence and that of Mary Help of Christians in your life and in the lives of your friends.”
A dream that you have for your country…
To continue the dream that Don Bosco had for the young people of my country: a happy life for every day and for eternity. Yes, where all can live and grow in peace and serenity, sharing fairly in the common wealth for the good of all. I want to share the love of God in the Spirit of the Da mihi animas cetera tolle in our land so dominated by the Buddhist culture.
The General Chapter XXIII of the Daughters of Mary Help Christians is a historic event in the life of every daughter of Mary Help of Christians, the young and all who are connected to us in any way. It is an important and significant event for the entire Institute of which we form an integral part. We have been preparing for it with much prayer, study and reflection and will continue to support the members of the General Chapter with our prayers.
Let us listen to the interview of Mother General published on 31/08/2014. The translation of the same you will find below.
Interview with Mother Yvonne Reungoat on the theme of GC XXIII
June 13, 2014
1. “Being, with young people today, a home that evangelises” is the theme that has been chosen for the coming General Chapter. What horizons can it open up for the future of the Institute?
The future horizons for the Institute are those of a revitalisation of the charism in dialogue with our times, in which there is a strong need to feel at home, i.e. to have affective and social points of reference, a sense of belonging and secure, shared values. The solitude of the family, often defenceless and fragile, unstable relations between people, alienation, defensively closing in on self, can all leave people, and especially young people, feeling alone and disorientated.
Offering a home, or rather being one, and being one together with them, means the freshness in human and spiritual relations that we intend to live. At the same time, it implies openness to others, since we are speaking of a home with open doors and windows, welcoming, proactive, where a sense of responsibility and care for each other is lived and, together, all tend towards a goal of beauty and fulfilment in Jesus, the true meaning of our life.
Therefore, the future horizons are in the area of the charism, whose most basic expression is the family spirit; a family in which young people can feel welcome, loved, valued, made responsible for their own lives and those of others, encouraged to discover the plan God has for them. Young people are not, in the first place, object of our care, but protagonists in cultural and social change in the light of the Gospel and according to the spirit of the Salesian charism.
2. In the Working Document three nuclei are proposed for reflection:
o Hope from the margins
o Called by God to be a prophecy of joy
o Relationships at the heart of the charism
How can they be a response to the challenges that the Institute needs to face?
There are many challenges to be faced, but basically they can be reduced to three:
• To allow ourselves to be challenged by the world, especially that that of young people, which is becoming impoverished, not only at the economic level but also at a human, cultural, social and religious levels;
• To rediscover the fascination of our religious life and witness to the joy of following Jesus in a setting where pessimism, scepticism and seeking easy gain seem to dominate;
• To let ourselves be challenged by the need for true and authentic relationships, and for a humanity that rediscovers itself and its dignity.
o Hope from the margins. Pope Francis recommends not allowing ourselves to be robbed of hope. Not alone must we not allow ourselves to be robbed of it, but we must recover it from the existential margins, as the Working Document for GC XXIII suggests. Indeed, the margins become the Gospel perspective from which to look at life with love. The margins are not just bearers of problems, suffering, limitations and death, but of life and hope. Wisdom can be learned by living with suffering and limitations, by sharing simplicity and poverty. The poor evangelise us with their very lives. In dialogue with them we become more creative, joyful, capable of going to the essential, and of proposing the beauty of the Gospel. Besides being a Gospel perspective, the margins are also a charismatic perspective. Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello were people of the margins and they started their mission among young people on the existential margins of their time.
On the level of human relationships, we have understood that the model of development cannot be that of prosperity, seen as accumulating wealth, but the possibility of living with dignity, moderation and joy and especially of sharing.
Consecrated life itself is experiencing what it is to be a minority, both because of falling numbers and because of its attitude of readiness to go out of itself and to journey in order to meet Jesus in the poor, on the margins of life and of every kind of poverty. It goes where the mystery of sin, suffering, and lack of rights reign; on the margins of thought and of every form of misery, especially those experienced by young people, in order to evangelise them and allow itself to be evangelised in an enriching mutual sharing.
On the margins we recognise the face of our communities. Together with the educating communities, many of them are rediscovering the joy of loving and serving in places where life is most fragile, insecure and threatened. From this point of view, today, even the family founded on marriage is an existential margin that needs to be cared for. No less care must be given to our communities, which are becoming ever more multi-generational, multi-cultural and, in some places, having a high average age, with all the richness and difficulties that this new configuration involves. Calls for inter-congregational collaboration are becoming ever more frequent. In brief, we are discovering an open field for the building of a home for all as a large family of children of God who live in communion and share what they are and have.
The margins do not offer security, but they involve a choice in favour of a fruitful future, because it is evangelical and Salesian and makes hope practical.
o A prophecy of joy. It is from the margins that we can experience joy, because it is there that God calls us, speaks to us, invites us, and gives us consolation and joy. It is by starting from the margins that we can witness to the fact that we are happy to follow Jesus and to proclaim the Gospel of joy. Joy is contagious and becomes a prophecy of hope in the possibility of a new world. It is not only the joy of being with Jesus but the joy of being with young people. We are called to inhabit the places in which we can meet them, listen to their thirst, and present the Gospel in a credible and convincing way, starting from a trustworthy witness that makes the life of Jesus visible in our words and actions.
Young people are our life, our fatigue, our hope, our future. They are a different and demanding generation. This could scare us, but the Lord does not leave us alone. It is among them that we can meet him. It is with them that we can live the preventive charism, revitalising our hope. Young people are capable of surprising us in a positive sense because they exceed our expectations with their generosity. If we are among them with an oratorian heart, they will show us their true face, one of poverty and hope, of generosity and beauty in the total gift of themselves.
The crisis in the family challenges us, not only to accompany the young people, but to establish a family pastoral, especially for young families, to help them to become an active support to other families.
If our heart is filled with the fascination of following Jesus, it will discover the comfort and joy of being with those He loves, especially young people, and of inhabiting those places in which they are to be found, not only the physical places, but also the virtual ones. The joy of communicating something beautiful and great will help us to enter into harmony with their languages, to become competent in the relationship of accompaniment, to be present in social networks and also to learn from young people. It will lead us to accept the new challenges of the educational and evangelising mission.
The new poor are not only to be found where the Gospel has not yet reached, but in many existential margins. We are particularly challenged by violence against women and children, abuses within families, human trafficking, migration and corruption.
For this reason we welcome the invitation of Pope Francis to be a Church that is going out to the mission, joining forces to oppose situations that degrade the human person and nature.
In a positive sense, we want to educate to life, to self-giving, to gift, to responsibility for others and for creation, to care for fraternal life.
o Relationships at the heart of the charism. With young people and the whole educating community, we commit ourselves to build a home of fraternity through relationships that make life more humane, animated by the spirituality of Don Bosco’s Preventive System. We feel that the charism is a word of God for today. We want to revitalize it by making the style of life in our communities more prophetic and joyful: a prophecy of joy and hope that involves the educating communities. The home we want to build is open to all. When we approach others windows are thrown open that make it possible to know each other, exchange gifts, respect and appreciate each other. Relationships will save us from individualism and, at the same time, guide us to put people at the centre, restoring their dignity.
In this regard the Salesian charism offers an interesting educational journey. It challenges us to make our relationships more mutual, to find the spot that is accessible to goodness, that is, the level of contact that allows the person to feel accepted in his/her deepest reality.
In Valdocco and Mornese, where the Salesian charism began its journey, thanks to the availability of St. John Bosco and St. Maria Domenica Mazzarello, all breathed a family spirit. They formed profoundly human relationships. They lived the fascination of the vocational call and the passion of the da mihi animas cetera tolle. Mother Mazzarello felt that she had received the educational mission from the very hands of Mary Help of Christians and lived it as a trust.
Relationships in the family spirit, lived as an educating community, become a prophecy of a different way of living, of telling our story, of expressing ourselves, of going out to others, and even of structuring one’s own identity. In fact, our image emerges, as in a mirror, from our relationships with others. We are called to revitalise the prophecy of fraternal life and make sure that it reaches all the existential margins in which our life and mission take place, with the momentum of the da mihi animas cetera tolle and the tender love of one who is aware of the call to care for others with compassion and mercy.
3. What is your dream for the experience that will be lived during the General Chapter?
The Assembly of GC XXIII will be representative of the whole world (there will be FMA from all continents, representing the 94 countries in which we are present). It holds the dream of new communities, open to universal fraternity, capable of appreciating the precious treasure of the Salesian Spirit inherited from our founders and of giving it new life, incarnating it in the situations of the present day. They will be capable of sustaining their hope in the certainty that the Lord is doing something new today and that we need to have eyes to see it. At GC XXIII I expect to experience FMA who are capable of believing in the dream of a Salesian religious life that can offer a new fascination and attraction, despite human limitations.
It is not primarily a question of studying what to propose to others (to those who do not take part in GC XXIII) and therefore of producing documents, but of experiencing the contagious beauty of our life, called to witness that the Lord Jesus fills the human heart and opens it to others.
For this reason I pray for a great openness to the Holy Spirit, the true protagonist in this event.
The conditions needed for this are: inner freedom and a new way of looking at things, the ability to go out of oneself to search for unprecedented paths, in the conviction that the future is not what remains of the past, but something absolutely surprising, that brings us back to the freshness of the origins of our charism that it may be a source of new life.
The Chapter will not solve all problems, but it will give a new spirit with which to face them with a Gospel and Salesian heart.
4. What message do you want to give to the many Sisters and members of the educating communities who will follow the work from home?
From now on the General Chapter can be lived in all our FMA communities and in the educating communities. Each member must be able to say: this involves me; it belongs to me; it is speaking of me and my community, because the Chapter is not something reserved, even if only one representative can take part. The Chapter belongs to everyone and should be followed with a sense of belonging and great love, with prayer and empathy, and above all with great confidence and hope. “When the Spirit works, it always creates something new”. It is the newness of the Gospel that radiates.
I pray that the new wind of the Holy Spirit that will blow through the days of GC XXIII may reach the most marginal communities and spread the contagion of life and hope to them.
There will be intense coverage on the website of the Institute. I invite you to make use of it. Thus you will be kept up to date in real time and will, in a way, live this significant event directly.
I hope, too, that you will accept with trust the transmission that the Provincial and delegate/s to the Chapter will give on their return. This attitude will make sure that the Chapter will be incarnated in the different settings in which you live and work with missionary hearts and that it will become contagious.
Stay in contact with us: do not pull out the plug. Every day interesting surprises will await you. Your responses will be precious for us and will encourage us in the search for new paths. They will be a privileged channel in order to live this event in synergy.
5. Thinking of the young people, how can they contribute to the growth of the Institute? What message do you want to give them?
Young people are the heart of our mission, but also our first collaborators in building a home for humanity.
Dear young people, I want to ask you to help us imagine a different world. Make your point of view known to us. Tell us what you think; even be critical of us, but not indifferent. Your opinions are vital for us. We want to listen to you, meet you, tell you what gives us life, but also to learn from you. Let us know your expectations and hopes, your disappointments and anxieties. Have the courage even to disturb us, but don’t just look on. Feel responsible for the building of a future of justice, peace, welcoming of differences, giving special importance to what unites and creates communion. Feel that you belong to the great Salesian Family born of the heart of Don Bosco and commit yourselves at local level. Belonging implies knowledge. Try to reflect in depth on Salesian values. One can only love and serve what one knows. Tell us what you think are the bricks that are solid enough to build the home of fraternity. You are leading actors in this undertaking, as the theme of the Chapter shows: being, with young people, a home that evangelises. A home inhabited by the Spirit. Mary Help of Christians walks in this house, protects and supports it with her counsel and maternal tenderness. May she help you to believe that what happened to Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello who received the call from her “I entrust them to you”, can also happen to each one of you. Yes, because God continues to trust you and to call you to collaborate with him.
Campobosco 2014, días para conocer la espiritualidad juvenil salesiana
30/07/2014 | Redacción
Se celebra en Turín, del 31 de julio al 9 de agosto, y participan 470 jóvenes, que recorrerán los lugares donde nació Don Bosco y el carisma salesiano.
Organizado por la Pastoral Juvenil Salesiana de España y Portugal, comienza mañana el Campobosco 2014, que reunirá, hasta el 9 de agosto, a 470 jóvenes, animadores, salesianos y salesianas.
El Campobosco es una experiencia, que se organiza cada tres años, destinada a jóvenes mayores de 19 años, que en esos días recorren los lugares de los orígenes de Don Bosco, fundador de la Familia Salesiana, y de las raíces del carisma salesiano. En esta ocasión, además, se celebra días antes de que comience oficialmente, el 16 de agosto, los actos del Bicentenario del nacimiento de San Juan Bosco.
A lo largo de estos días, los jóvenes visitarán Barcelona, que recibió la visita de Don Bosco en 1886; Mornese, donde nació María Mazzarello y está el origen de las Salesianas. Ya en Turín, el grupo visitará el Colle Don Bosco, donde nació el santo de los jóvenes, y los pueblos cercanos donde pasó su infancia y se formó como seminarista. En Turín, recorrerán los lugares del origen del carisma salesiano, especialmente en Valdocco donde nació la obra salesiana.
Con este viaje, en el que se omiten expresamente otras visitas turísticas, se quiere ofrecer a los jóvenes la posibilidad de conocer un poco más a San Juan Bosco y a Santa María Mazzarello, conocer su personalidad y los orígenes de su propuesta educativa y su espiritualidad. “Acercarse a la experiencia espiritual de Don Bosco, explican los organizadores, para caminar en la santidad según la vocación específica de cada uno”.
Durante estas jornadas, se suceden los momentos de convivencia, de reflexión sobre los lugares que se visitan, los momentos de oración, de celebración de la eucaristía y reconciliación. En alguno de estos actos participarán el Rector Mayor de los salesianos y la Madre General de las salesianas, así como provinciales de ambas congregaciones.
Puede seguirse este encuentro en :