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Posted by on in FMA Rome Calling

The long awaited day for the FMA General Chapter’s audience with Pope Francis had arrived…

It was a truly wonderful experience from the moment we walked up the stairs past the Swiss Guard, something I have always wanted to do, into the interior of the splendid surroundings of the Vatican. After being led up several flights of magnificent marble stairs we arrived in the even more wonderful Clement VIII room where we were to await Pope Francis. I am sure you can imagine the huge emotion of all 194 of us and the chatter and excitement as we waited for the Holy Father to arrive. We had a false alarm when a cardinal scuttled through, smiling broadly as he acknowledged our expection that he was the Holy Father.

Finally, the side door was thrown open and Pope Francis came in, his presence filling the whole room which had erupted in warm cheering and clapping.

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Mother Yvonne made a short address going over some essential elements of the Chapter work, as well as assuring the Holy Father of our fidelity to the Church and our desire to continue sharing our charism for the good of many young people who are suffering in so many ways today. Pope Francis and Mother Yvonne shared a few homely moments. Mother Yvonne shared our great desire to see Laura Vicuna cannonised but he said we needed to produce a miracle, she replied saying we had submitted many but the doctors did not accept them so we were now praying for the doctors…he laughed!

Pope Francis then made an address showing that he knew all about the Chapter and our contribution to the world of the young. He thanked us and asked us to make sure we stayed in Patagonia, part of his mission to the Church in Argentina!

He did not have time to greet us individually unfortunately, but he did sit and have a group photo, but I doubt if Sr. Connie and I will be visible since we were right at the back by a strange quirk of fate which we will be willing to share with anyone who is interested when we return in the near future!

We arrived home really happy to have had this wondeful opportunity and can assure all the members of the Salesin family that we held all present during the Apostolic blessing which we were fortunate enough to receive.

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Posted by on in FMA Rome Calling

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I am sure you all know that there is no such thing as half term here in Italy?


All 194 of us have been very busily engaged in the elections of our Mother General and General Council (visit ) for all the details. It has been a time of grace and lots of prayerful discernment,but no easy process. We were assisted through the process by Fr. Cisto Rey a wonderful Claritian father, who very gently guided us.

In thanksgiving we went to St. Mary Major Basilica, apparently this is where Pope Francis goes to ask for the help of Our Lady and to thank her on his return from his visits outside Rome. It is a lovely church we felt blessed to have the opportunity to go there on pilgrimage. There has not been a lot of time to see around Rome so this was a very welcome break.

We are now entering the final phase of the Chapter with lots of open files to be sorted and the final document to be agreed stage by stage. However, we are blessed to have an audience with Pope Francis to look forward to on Nov. 8th an unique opportunity. We promise to remember all the members of our Salesian family at home during the event. One thing that is very apparent here is that we do genuinely feel the warmth of belonging to a big Salesian family. The local SDB have been fantastic celebrating mass daily with so much goodness and fraternal affection. We have met many SDB Cardinals, it is heart warming to see such great bonds between the whole Salesian Family...Don Bosco must be pleased in this his bi-centenary year.

Now, we are looking forward to seeing everyone when we get back and would like to extend an invitation to all to come and share our experience of the General Chapter. There are 4 venues:


  • Battersea November 22nd, 11am-1pm,
  • Cowley November 23rd, 2pm-4pm
  • Liverpool Blundellsands 4t December. 7pm-9pm
  • Scotland Newlands 10th December 7pm-9pm.

We do hope many of you will manage to come along and hear about this event which really touches all our Salesian family, Church and many young people throughout the world. It will be a lovely opportunity to catch up with everyone. We hope to see you at one or other of the venues! Until then...

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Posted by on in FMA Rome Calling

I have to say that as the weeks go by more and more things are happening. We are now almost midway through the Chapter and it was good timing to be joined by about 40 laymen and women as well as young adults. Each group present had either attended the Provincial Chapters before the General Chapter or had meetings with a wider group and so they came carrying a wealth of experience and represented different realities. Those invited had been asked to reflect on various aspects of the Working Document of the Chapter and to share their reflections here in Rome.

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Being honest, what they had to say was like a fresh mountain spring, their presence has re-energised us all and we have been given some very honest, straightforward comments and challenges for the future. They were helped to feel really at home here in the Mother House and despite the short duration of their visit they made a huge impact on us all. As far as I know this is the first time since the very first Chapter in Mornese that young people in particular have been present for part of the Chapter.

Saturday night we were treated to a musical on the life of Mother Mazzarello presented by a youth group from Livorno. It was full of energy and with its modern style and fresh approach had us all on our feet to thank them for such an inspirational presentation.

I decided to collect a few comments from those who joined us with the hope that they might give a flavour of those who joined us felt:

“I am glad to be here from Slovakia because I can get a chance to see how the sisters think and compare what I see here with what I see in Slovakia. I thought being with a big group of sisters would be boring but I’m surprised to see how happy they are and I feel a similar happiness in me!” - Julia

Daniele from Italy commented

“Having the possibilty to spend these two days here with all the Chapter members has helped me experince what it means to belong to a Christian community. I feel welcomed, accepted for myself and in the name of all the young people I represent it is a real experience of living Salesian Family not just talking about it!”

Barbara from the USA remarked:

“My experiecne of being at the General Chapter has been one of great joy. To see, to hear and to actally be with Salesians of such diverse backgrounds, has been a tremendous education. The collaoration of the FMA laity and youth of the world has been a unique Salesian Family encounter.”

If you want to see what Adelle and Becky thought you will have to wait a while but, in the meantime why not go to their post at!


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Posted by on in FMA Rome Calling

Today [22nd September]. the very solemn and moving opening of the XXIII FMA Chapter took place.


Even though Sr Connie and I have been here for quite some time much has happened before this homely, yet dignified great event. We had a wonderful retreat with time to enjoy the peace, cool and inspiration of Mornese, while being equally challenged by the wise sharing of Bishop Thomas from India. The closure of the retreat in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians was unforgettable, with the final act being the renewal of vows of all the FMA present and a dedication prayer at the urns of Don Bosco and Mother Mazarello, possibly topped  by a heartfelt rendering of 'O Qual Sorte' - a kind of world wide hymn thanking the Lord for our good fortune to belong to this fantastic congregation dedicated to young people.

On September 18th we went in pilgrimage to Lu Monferrato, about an hour and a half away from Mornese, to help this small town celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Sr Angela Vallese, the leader of the first Missionary expedition to Uruguay, aged 24! The rain and the warm welcome we received helped us feel so at home. Despite being small, the mothers of this little town meet regularly to pray for vocations and believe it or not, in one hundred years have given one tenth of their children to the Church as either priests or sisters in various congregations! Notable among this number is Don Rinaldi.


After the long journey back to Rome we had some days of intense, prayerful and helpful reflective preparation on what a Chapter really is, and what our roles as Chapter members entails.


There are 110 out of the 194 Chapter members attending a Chapter for the first time; one for her 7th! The average age of those present is 56, while the average number of years profession, about 33. During this time we have also been helped to get to know each other. Much emphasis has been laid on our need to have an openness to a world view of the Institute and huge dependence on the Holy Spirit, as well as our need to be women of faith when we enter more fully into the world of our youth and of our communities.


So you could say that now the work begins . . . tomorrow we will have Mother Yvonne's Report on the last six years of the Congregation, and will have time to 'chew it over' in silent reflection as well as sharing in various groups. . .  

Hoping you are managing to check things out on our International website  

If things continue as they have started this is going to be a really wonderful experience of family, church and a kind of Pentecost experience! 


Sr Pat Devine FMA 

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Posted by on in FMA Rome Calling

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Now 192 of us from all continents have arrived, despite a strike at the airports here in Rome it is time to fill you all in on what has been happening.

Today we begin the pre-Chapter work starting with the presentations of all 13 Conferences, groups of Provinces - this was led in a very Salesian way by a magician and three clown helpers. While it was light hearted it gave us all a really good look at how extensive the Congregation is and how diverse in culture, language and dynamics...

In the afternoon we all gathered in the Chapter meeting room for a brief introduction given by Mother Yvonne and then went into the 13 commissions. We will be working in these groups a great deal so this was our first get together and an initial introduction too.

I think the pictures tell the tale better than words... we worked very hard finishing with Mass and vespers at 6.45pm!

I will pick up the threads again again on my return.

For those who want a little more detail go to the FMA International website which has a daily update:

Be sure of prayer for all our Salesian Family.

Sr Pat Devine FMA

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