MORNESE, Piedmont, Italy – After five days in Rome (heart of our faith), and another five days in Turin (places related to Don Bosco) the Project Mornese group (31 Salesian Sisters from three continents, 10 countries and 17 provinces) arrived at the land of their dreams and pilgrimage destination – Mornese, the birth place of St Maria Domenica Mazzarello, the FMA institute’s foundress.
Tuesday, 15 June, began with a 25-minute walk in the rain along country road from Mornese Collegio where Mother Domenica Mazzarello started Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christian (FMA) Sister and lived for 7 years (1872-1879), to her native village and ancestral home in upper Mornese. The Sisters had ample time visiting the Mazzarello home and seeing the exhibits as well as listening to the story of the Mazzarello household where Maria Domenica was the eldest of 13 children (six died in their early childhood) born to honest and hardworking parents.
The group had Eucharistic celebration at the shrine of St Domenica Maria Mazzarello and after lunch they also visited the little chapel which the Mazzarellos built to honour Mary Help of Christians for saving them from cholera epidemic of 1841.
After sufficient time for personal prayers at the rooms, the shrine and the chapel, the Sisters gathered for the Holy Ground Experience.
The para-liturgical event had the Sisters sit in a circle around a pot of Mornese earth. The event had five key moments: Stop, Look, Listen, Experience and Journey. After the hymn: This is Holy Ground, the Sisters took time to STOP and recall the mid-point of their pilgrimage. Then they had a good LOOK at the earth of Mornese kept in a pot at the centre. They LISTENED to the word of God from Genesis 13:14-17 where God tells Abraham: “I shall make your descendants like the dust on the ground… On your feet! Travel the length and breadth of the country, for I mean to give it to you.”
The moment of EXPERIENCE consisted of each Sister going and taking a handful of the Mornese earth in her hands and getting the feel of it and listening to what “Mother Mazzarello is telling me about her holy ground.” Then each Sister took out the earth she brought from her country… “This is the earth on which we were born, the earth we tread everyday in our community life and apostolate…”
The Sisters held in one hand Mornese earth and in the other, earth from their mission and each one spent time speaking to St Maria Mazzarello about her Holy Ground.
The JOURNEY moment consisted of each Sister going to the pot with Mornese earth and mixing her own earth… as an expression of their desire to become HOLY GROUND in Mornese.
After everyone finished mixing their earth, the ceremony concluded with a prayer of mission commitment.
Wednesday, 16 June, the group will visit Mornese parish church, to have a glimpse of Maria Mazzarello’s youthful years and the formation of the lady’s group under the direction of then parish priest Don Pestarino.