Vatican City, 8 November 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall the Holy Father received in audience the participants in the General Chapter of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, the theme of which is “With the young today: being a house that evangelises”. This theme, remarked Francis, fits well in today's social and ecclesial context, characterised by many forms of spiritual and material misery. “Indeed, today many suffer not only from poverty but also from a lack of love or relationships”. In this context, he added, “you are able to perceive above all the fragility of the young people to whom you dedicate yourselves with admirable commitment, in the style of Don Bosco and following in the footsteps of Mother Mazzarello”.
In the general chapter, various basic directions emerged for the life of each religious person and every community. First, there is “the commitment to being guided by the prospect of outreach, of setting out for the many geographically and existentially peripheral zones, with preferential attention to the poor and the different forms of exclusion. Then, there is the awareness of the need to put into effect appropriate itineraries of change and pastoral conversion, thus transforming your houses into places of evangelisation, where above all the young are involved in the same mission”.
“I can only encourage you to pursue with enthusiasm in this line of action that the Holy Spirit is suggesting to you. Open your hearts to welcome the … grace of God; broaden your outlook to recognise the truest needs and the urgency of a society and a generation in flux. Everywhere be prophetic witnesses and an educative presence, through an unconditional welcome to the young, facing intercultural challenges and identifying approaches to make your apostolic interventions effective in a context – that of youth – permeated by the virtual world and by new technologies, especially those of a digital nature”.
In order to do this, “it is necessary always to place Christ at the centre of your existence: it is necessary to allow yourselves to be formed by the Word of God, that enlightens, orientates and supports; it is necessary to nurture the missionary spirit with assiduous prayer”. At the same time, he added, the Daughters are called upon to “bear witness to an ideal of sisterly communion between you, with sentiments of mutual acceptance”, that must be accompanied by attentive formation, including timely studies of the human sciences that may help them in their mission. “Indeed, you are called upon to be able to listen with openness and understanding to those who turn to you for moral and human support, in order to inculturate the message of the Gospel. In this respect, the missio ad gentes offers you a vast field in which to give yourselves with love”.
Finally, the Pope urged the Daughters, who during the Chapter have also reflected extensively on their daily apostolic life, that places them in contract with the joys, expectations and sufferings of the people, to be “missionaries of joy, bearing witness to the values of your Salesian identity, especially in the category of encounter, a fundamental aspect of your charism. It is an ever fresh and vital source from which to draw the love that revitalises passion for God and for the young. May the inevitable difficulties you encounter along the way never dampen the enthusiasm of your apostolic action. May the example of St. John Bosco and St. Domenica Mazzarello encourage you to contribute even more enthusiastically to new evangelisation with your activities in the fields of education and school, catechesis and the formation of young people in the apostolate”.