Category Archives: Valponasca

Salesian Sisters experience desert day

Asian cultural symbols at the Eucharist.

MORNESE, N. Italy (C.M. Paul) – The Sisters of the project Mornese English speaking group had a unique day. They called it the desert day. After Morning Prayer and breakfast, each Sister put together her own lunch packet. Being a Friday, there was neither salami nor prosciutto to put into their pannino. Sr. Ines, in charge of the kitchen had instead omelets prepared which they gladly put in their sandwich buns.
They also picked up a packet of juice, a fruit (banana or apple or a pear), as well as some wafers and bread sticks. More enterprising sisters also picked up yogurt left over from the breakfast.
The animators told the Sisters they could go any where for the whole day only on one condition that they report back for 5.00 pm Eucharist at the Collegio chapel.

Sr Ines stirring up polenta -photo by Sr Loretta

Some of the more adventurous Sisters went over to Valponasco (40 minutes walk) , others to the Mazzarelli (20 minutes walk), still others spent the day at the Collegio devoting quality time in silent prayer at the room of Mother Mazzarello, or sat at the Mornese well. Some even went over to the parish Church or to the village, while others hit the road to the open fields.
The day was exceptionally fine with bright sun and clear sky. In the evening the Sisters returned for the Eucharistic celebration on the theme of Praise and Thanksgiving for the days spent thus far – learning, praying and living the spirit of St Maria Mazzarello.

Bangalore province with Animators

The evening concluded with written evaluation and group discussion on Project Mornese. It was followed by a presentation on Project Jerusalem which is a similar on-going formation programme for the Salesian Sisters, similar to the Project Mornese. It is hoped that the programme which started off in 2006 will provide opportunity to every Salesian Sister to see, touch and live in the land of Jesus for some three months. To date nine groups of Sisters have gone through the programme which was the dream child of Mother General Catherine Daghero when she visited Holy Land in 1906.

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Filed under Don Bosco, Maria Mazzarello, Mazzarelli, Nun's Story, Project Jerusalem, Project Mornese, Salesian Sisters, Valponasca

Sisters Go Second Time to Valponasco Mazzarello Home

Open air Eucharistic celebration at Valpanasco

VALPONASCO, N. Italy (C.M. Paul) – The Project Mornese English (PME) speaking Sisters returned to Valponasco, the Domenica Maria Mazzarello home now turned into a spirituality centre, for a second time, 24 June. This time, it was for a day of prayer and reconciliation.
After a 40 to 45 minute walk, on a bright sunny day, the Sisters refreshed themselves in the shade of lime, plane, oak and pine trees on Valponasco hill. They had a good view of the newly repaired bell tower of Mornese parish church and settlements in the distance overlooking the verdant valley skirted with vineyards.
After a quick picnic lunch, the Sisters settled down under the tree shade for a reconciliation service followed by individual confession and open air solemn Eucharistic celebration. The highlight of the Mass was a procession with the Bible around the Valponasco home singing the opening song from the Godspel musical: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” The procession also marked the solemnity of the nativity of St John the Baptist, as well as the name feast of St John Bosco which is also the day of the Salesian Rector Major’s feast.

Bible procession at Valpanasco Mazzarello Home

While Mornese morning starts with prayer, input sessions and reflection on the life and writings of the co-foundress St Maria Mazzarello, afternoons are spent exploring the places associated with Mazzarello – the Collegio (first house of the FMA institute) where PME is put up (11-28 June at Mornese), Mazzarelli & Valponasca (houses where Maria Mazzarello grew up), Roverno river where Mazzarello and Sisters had their laundry done, the parish church, the work room and the house of the Immaculate where young Mazzarello organized her group to work for local girls.

Sisters with Valponasca care-taker Sr Iva Bolsi

Every evening, different provinces took turns to share their special ministry to the young with creative PowerPoint presentations or short films. The group also saw a B/W film on St Mary Mazzarello, as well as the two part, 2004 film on Don Bosco.
The PME Sisters mostly in their 40s and above come from 10 countries of three continents – North America, Asia and Europe. The Indian Sisters form the largest single country group totaling 16 Sisters from six Indian provinces. Participants from other Asian countries include Cambodia, Timor, the Philippines and Israel.
Since 1996, more than 200 sisters a year have gone through this innovative on-going formation program to absorb the charism of their founders Don Bosco and Maria Mazzarello and regale salesianita’ from its source.

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Filed under Collegio Mornese, DB Past Pupil, Don Bosco, Education, Maria Mazzarello, Nun's Story, Project Mornese, Salesian, Salesian Sisters, Valponasca

Day at Valponasca Mazzarello Home

Valponasca chapel: Samoan style Bible procession.

VALPONASCA, Mornese – The Project Mornese Sisters spent a day at the Valponasca home of the Mazzarellos, 19 June. Leaving the Mornese Collegio, the group walked down public road for about 45 minutes and climbed up the Valponasco vineyards, once cultivated by Maria Mazzarello and her family. On arriving at the well kept courtyard and home, Sisters gathered upstairs in the new hall above the chapel for input session on Maria Mazzarello’s life at the Valponasca farm. It was followed by a well prepared liturgy by Sisters of the Pacific and Australia. After the liturgy, the group had the experience of gusty winds which turned up from nowhere carrying away from their hands the plastic cups and plates distributed for lunch…
The story of the farm goes back to Maria’s paternal grandfather who rented the small farm “Valponasca”, owned by the marquis Giorgio Doria on February 10, 1827, for a period of 18 years. Domenico Mazzarello died at an early age leaving his property to his 4 sons; three of them were to share the house in “Mazzarelli di qua” with their families. Later, Giuseppe Mazzarello, Maria’s father, decided to go to live at the Valponasca. This probably took place in 1850, after extending the rental period of the house.

Sisters gather outside Valponasca home.

Maria lived her adolescent and youthful years in this house. She was like any other lively and intelligent girl of her time. Here at the Valponasca, the rhythm of her life changed. Until then, she had been the helpful support of her mother; now that her little sister Felicita had grown up, Maria could work with her father in the fields.
Work and prayer sustained her youth. In this new home, Maria found a place which became the strong point of her busy day while she worked in the fields and vineyards. In the little house of Valponasca there is a window on the southern side. From there, the Mornese parish church of St Sylvester is visible. Maria used to go to Mass every morning, but could not go back in the evening. Thus, she found a way of joining those who at that time were gathered together in the church for prayer. She would come here to this window.

Mornese Church seen from Maria's favourite window in the Valponasco Mazzarello home.

When her mother realized what Maria’ s evening escapes were about, she arranged it so that the whole family would gather by that window for their evening prayer. From here, where silence is broken only by the wind that blows in every direction, Maria had learned to live an intense spiritual life. She learned the real meaning of contemplation which, according Gospel, makes one responsible for one’s brothers and sisters. Here at the Valponasca, Maria nurtured her religious vocation and brought it to to maturity, even though she didn’t know how she could ever realise it.
The old Valponasca farm, where “Main” (as Maria was fondly called) lived the decisive years of her adolescence, had to belong to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, as a precious remembrance. The FMA acquired it on April 25, 1986. Care was taken to preserve the original structures as far as possible and while at the same time adapt it for the numerous pilgrims and groups who come here in prayer, in silence and reflection to discover the roots of a sound spirituality. The work of restoration was concluded in 1988.
Today, Sr Iva Bolsi at 82 years, drove a nine-seater Volkswagon Transporter from Mornese Collegio with ten Sisters of the Project Mornese to Vaponasco where she is the curator. She returned to pick up, if any, who could not complete the walk. Again she went down to Collegio to pick up lunch for 32 Sisters and made two more trips to bring home, the weary walkers.

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Filed under Maria Mazzarello, Nun's Story, Project Mornese, Salesian, Salesian Sisters, Samoa, Valponasca