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.
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.
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.