Rome (Italy).Today, September 22, the official opening of the 23rd General Chapter took place at the Generalate in Rome. The theme of the Chapter is: “Being with today’s young people a home that evangelizes.
The ceremony saw the participation of several religious and ecclesiastical authorities: Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic life; Cardinals Tarcisio Bertone and Raffaele Farina; Fr. Ángel Fernandez Artime, Rector Major of the Salesian Congregation , his Vicar Fr. Francesco Cereda and other General Councilors, many SDB; representatives of the various groups of the Salesian Family, young people, FMA novices, FMA participants at General Chapter XXIII and other representatives of the FMA of Rome and of the world.
The day began with the Eucharistic Celebration presided by the Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr. Ángel and concelebrated by Fr. Francesco, Vicar General, and the Secretary of the Rector Major.
In the introduction “home” was mentioned as a place of welcome, communion of relationships and sharing faith; a place where one lives the family spirit. The centrality of listening to the Word symbolized the welcome and invocation of light and discernment of God’s dream for the Institute.
In his homily the Rector Major referred to three images recalled in the Gospel of the day: light, transparency of the wall, and treasure. Three forces to be found in daily life, with and for the young people, builders of a welcoming home, of open doors, of missionary ardor and of sharing and sincere affection.
At the time of the Offertory, Mother Yvonne and her Councilors were called to place their hands on the altar, as a sign of the presence of the whole Institute in a gesture of entrustment and offering, with the wealth of diversity and universality. At the conclusion of the Mass Mother Yvonne entrusted to those Presiding a light, and the General Councilors offered to each Chapter member a little stone, symbol of the participation and collaboration for the implementation of the Chapter.
The official moment of the inauguration began with the parade of flags. It was a vivid image to declare that the FMA of the entire world are called to live the Chapter event as an important time in the journey of the Institute. The invocation to the Holy Spirit was sung with lively enthusiasm and participation.
Mother Yvonne Reungoat extended a Welcome to all those present saying: I am happy for your presence here with us as a sign of the esteem and appreciation for the Institute that today celebrates the official opening of General Chapter XXIII. Your being here honors us and encourages us to live the Chapter experience as an ecclesial and charismatic event.
The theme of the Chapter-being today with young people a home that evangelizes-will be the heart of the prayer, reflection, and discernment that we will share in the Chapter Assembly. This theme responds to the most profound nucleus of our charismatic identity and is in harmony with the journey of the Church re-launched by the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization and stressed by Pope Francis who invited the young people to be protagonists in their lives, architects of the present, and the future of the Church and of society.
Hope is the perspective from which we look at the world, let us listen to its cry, allowing ourselves to be called by its challenges, from the new and old poverties that threaten it not only on the economic level, but also on that which is human, cultural, social and religious. With the young people and with all the educating community we commit ourselves to build the home of fraternity through humanizing relationship, animated by the spirituality of Don Bosco’s Preventive System”.
Following Mother’s address, there was also the greeting from Cardinal João BRAZ de AVIZ, who offered a reflection on Consecrated Life as an integral part of the Church, emphasizing three dimensions on which it is necessary to focus: to return to the sequela Christiin a profound way, to live the essentiality of the Founder’s charism, and to be open to the current culture. He concluded with a wish for the assembly: “May the Father live in you: if you feel at home, you will also be a home for young people”.
Fr. Ángel, the Rector Major, addressed his greeting to the Chapter members and rejoiced in the start of the Chapter, which takes place in an historical time, during the Bicentenary year of the birth of Don Bosco, and at the door of the year dedicated to Consecrated Life. He concluded: The desire to be today with the young people a home that evangelizes, will undoubtedly ask of you, as is asked of all in the religious life, the courageous choice toward an existence lived in evangelical radicality, overcoming the nostalgia for the past in order to continue advancing toward a present and a future filled with fruitfulness.
Like those disciples on the way to Emmaus who lived the experience of a life transformation, may you also have the strength to belong completely to the person of Jesus, and to joyfully assume the mission He entrusts to you: to extend His presence and to be the Good News with and for young people, to be missionary disciples, so that all may feel at home. May the encounter with the young people become for us the apostolic place of the encounter with Jesus. May God bless you
Many representatives of the Salesian Family groups were present, and in their greeting they expressed closeness to the Institute, emphasizing the importance of the chosen theme.
Two young people from the Rome Province, Anna e Jacopo, spoke in the name of their peers throughout the world. They said in their message to the FMA: “You are for us witnesses of that “house founded on a Rock”, in which God’s Love is manifested in fraternal communion, a tangible sign that fascinates young people and makes them feel at home. The family spirit is contagious, and step by step allows one to pass through that “narrow door”, leading to the encounter with Jesus, when we realize that the charism has been given as a gift, in those ordinary gestures that have accompanied growth. So it is that every gesture and attention to the least, to the little ones, finds new meaning: the true joy of being a means of evangelization. Close to you we feel that we are leaders in a shared educational mission, being for other young people a home that evangelizes”.
At the conclusion, Mother Yvonne, having verified the implementation of the obligations prescribed by the Constitutions and Regulations, officially declared Chapter XXIII of the Institute of the FMA, to be open.
The ceremony concluded with a hymn to Mary performed by the FMA novices from the novitiates of Castelgandolfo and Rome.
During the afternoon the Chapter members gathered in the Chapter Hall for the presentation of the Schedule for GC XXIII. Following this, the commissions elected the President, Vice President Secretary and scrutinizers.
The day concluded with the celebration of Vespers and the taking of the solemn oath.