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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.

IMG 07182          Photo with mother general  YP2

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 www.cgfmanet.org!

 

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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 www.cgfmanet.org  

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: www.cgfmanet.org

Be sure of prayer for all our Salesian Family.

Sr Pat Devine FMA

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Posted by on in Turin Pilgrimage

Day two of our pilgrimage and time is slipping away. I was up fairly early this morning ready for a day at Valdocco, the heart of the Salesian family. Our day started there with morning prayer led by Jess Wilkinson. We were each given a pair of white rosary beads as a gift and we used these reciting the glorious mysteries, something Jess reminded us Don Bosco would have prayed many times here himself. After the rosary we split into groups and were given a guided tour of Don Boscos rooms. I had no idea what these were but all was soon explained. These rooms were once upon a time where he lived. Entering the first floor we were greeted with a large painting of Don Bosco, it was placed there as a welcome to everyone who visits. Although modernised, it felt like stepping back in time as we wandered around the rooms trying to get a feel of how Don Bosco lived all those years ago. There were lots of writings, in glass cabinets, a room with the original furniture belonging to the man himself, we even saw the bed that he died in. I can't really explain at this stage as to how I felt! At 1pm we went to celebrate mass in the Great Basilica of Mary Help of Christians. I was struck by the amount of marble, it did look beautiful. The basilica was built by Don Bosco after having a vision of our lady. Fr Martin yet again had me in an emotional state. He told us that we are all Don Bosco in Great Britain, something to live up to when we get home. After mass we all had lunch together, everyone expecting bread, cheese and ham etc, but we sat down to three courses of lovely Italian food. We assembled for our prayer service in the St Francis de Sales chapel. This was an extra special service as Lynn, Gina and Kate were about to make their promise to become cooperators for the Salesian family. It was very moving and it did make me think about whether it is something I could do and live up to. At the end of the service Bob gave us our good afternoon. All I can say is Bob, you are amazing.

 

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Posted by on in Turin Pilgrimage

'Friend of the Young' 

So the BiCentary celebrations have begun and being part of a pilgrimage from the GBR Province I have just spent our first full day at Colle Don Bosco, the place of Don Bosco's birth, about an hours drive from Turino. Today was the day to get to know the young Don Bosco, his life and his family. You can read book after book about Don Bosco but to actually stand where he lived and listen to people who had so much knowledge about him. So much more real and fulfilling. Several times my mind wondered, several times my mind wanderd and thought about St Bernadette and the similarities between the two saints. How they both came from very humble backgrounds, both families removed from their homes and had to lived in cramp accomodation, and finally both of them lived in a beautiful part of their country surrounded by mountains. Mama Margaret (Don Bosco's Mum) what a woman! You knew by listening that she was a loving mother and taught don bosco well until he was twelve years of age. Her prescious advice to her son was 'learn the joy of praying, sharing and self sacrifice' we were fortunate to celebrate mass in Don Bosco's temple, Fr Martin's words and beautiful singing had me close to tears. We all joined in, in a group photo before having lunch. A few of our 'Younger' pilgrims decided to join in with the French youth dancing. I was able to take a few photos of this joyful gathering. After lunch I went in search of the souvenir shop to see what they had on offer, but to also take part in the challenge Soo set. I think I did good! Final prayer session in the lower Bascilica but before this I was able to have a look round. Behind the sanctuary is a relic of Don Bosco. It was an ideal oppotunity for me to say a few personal prayers. My day today has been such a wonderful experience and I cannot wait for tomorrow to learn about the great St John Bosco!

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DON BOSCO TODAY

Spring 2019

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