FMA at the Synod
(Rome Italy). Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, and Sr. Lucy Nderi, PhD candidate, are among the participants as auditors at the XV General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme: "Young people, faith and vocational discernment".
The Synod Assembly takes place from 3 to 28 October 2018. The process of preparation was long and articulated in various stages in which the presence of some members of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians was visible. Prof. Maria Teresa Spiga, a professor at Auxilium, participated in the Commission that drafted the preparatory document; Sr. Cristina Vargas, Colombian, was a representative of the young religious of Latin America; Sr. Cynthia Calabig, Philippine Novice Formator, representative of the formators/educators of Asia; and Sr. Karla Marlene Figueroa from Honduras, professor at the "Auxilium" Educational Sciences Faculty - Rome, as a representative of educators from Latin America, all took part in the pre-synod meeting, which took place from 19 to 24 March 2018 with the aim of giving young people the opportunity to present to the Synod Fathers a document in which they express their point of view on reality, their ideas, their feelings, their proposals.
Living the Synod experience in these days are Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, Professor of Political Economics and member of the Scientific Committee and organizer of the Catholic social weeks of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and Sr. Lucy Muthoni Nderi, PhD candidate in Educational Psychology and until last year pastoral worker for young people in social difficulties and street children, educator in the group home in Makuyu (Kenya).
“I started without great expectations because I did not know what a Synod was like, but I must say that from the very first day I immediately grasped the great passion, the great love the Church has for the young and this has encouraged me. I have also verified this in the work of the Minor Circles, where there was a broad space for discussion, where we could freely express ourselves and we understood the need for the Church and the bishops to be able to speak with young people. But the most beautiful theme, in my opinion, is the need to learn to listen to them and what non-passive listening is. Particular attention was given to the topic of listening, which, when it is authentic, changes both the speaker and the listener. And so we talked about the path that can be taken with the young, listening to them".
"I am very grateful to be here at this Synod dedicated to young people: both because I am a Salesian, and because it is a unique experience of its kind", stated Sr. Smerilli at the microphones of Vatican Radio Italy (see Interview Smerilli)
The Synod is a milestone for the Salesian Family, as it aims at the central core of the Salesian Charism: the young. Surely it will offer elements that will help to discern new methods and ways of serving young people. As the Pope said, “more than ever Gospel ardor and passion are needed that generate ardor and passion for Jesus. Memory that can awaken and renew within us the ability to dream and hope. Because we know that our young people will be capable of prophecy and vision to the extent that we, now adults or elderly, are capable of dreaming and thus contagion and share the dreams and hopes that we carry in our hearts".
We cannot think of the Church without the presence of the young. "We need young people, living stones of a Church with a youthful face, but without makeup, that is, not rejuvenated, but renewed from within". In the homily of the Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Square packed with young people and the Synod Fathers, Pope Francis said: "The young call us to take care of them with commitment ... Let us not leave them alone".
Among the participants at the Synod there is the Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, and other SDB elected or appointed by the Pontifical Council. Such a broad participation of Salesians and FMA at the synod on young people will promote the diffusion of good Salesian practices in the Church and the assimilation of the ideas and conclusions of the Synod for the two Congregations.