MORNESE, N. Italy, (C.M. Paul) — The two animators of 29 member Project Mornese English (PME) speaking group say they are overwhelmed accompanying the groups each time. While for Irish Sr Maire O’Byrne it is the 10th time accompanying PME, for U.S. born Sister Edna Mary Mac Donald former provincial of Australian province it is the 5th time.
“I have always found the experience very life giving for myself, as well as for the group. I feel it is a privilege to be able to accompany my Sisters in this experience, especially those who would not otherwise have an opportunity to visit the places of our Founders,” says Sr O’Byrne, 44 years a Salesian Sister.
“Those coming to Italy for the first time are in awe as they come into personal contact with the places and centre of the Catholic Church and of our charism,” says Sr Mac Donald who discontinued accompanying PME group on appointment as Salesian Sisters provincial of Australian province.
“These Sisters return to their provinces with a renewed sense of purpose regarding the Church, our congregation and are re-energised in their personal call to continue to deepen their own human, Christian and religious journey,” adds Sr Mac Donald.
“Accompanying each group, I come away in awe at the journey each Sister is wholeheartedly willing to continue and to pass on to others what is truly life-giving,” explains Sr Mac Donald who served two terms on AMOR (Asia/Oceania meeting of Religious) Executive.
An exhilarating moment in accompanying the group is “to see the wonder and amazement on the Sisters’ faces when they actually come in contact with sacred places in Rome, Turin and Mornese,” says Sr Mac Donald who holds a PhD degree in education from the University of South Australia.
She spells out major group experiences as “depth of prayer in the group, a sense of profound gratitude for the privilege of the pilgrimage and being blessed to walk with others along the journey of life.”
“The PME methodology is experiential and allows for the true sense of pilgrimage to be actualized maximising the possibility for growth and change to occur in each Sister at her own pace,” says Sr. Mac Donald who had her religious training in the U.S. and Italy before moving to Australia as a young religious. She has worked for over 40 years in education and is involved in the initial religious formation program of FMA South Pacific Region province.
Sr Byrne adds, “ One of the most important aspects [of PM] is that it is designed for every Sister not just a privileged few. It is also very valuable because [it] is based on experience and gives time for personal reflection and going in depth.”
The PM gives Salesian Sisters worldwide opportunity to re-vitalize their Christian, religious and Salesian charism. The month-long course is offered each year in five languages (Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese and French) through a progressive pilgrimage in three places connected with their charism – Rome, Turin and Mornese.