|Italy – FMA 140th Anniversary: Dreaming the future with imagination and generosity|
|RMG – Interview with Mother Reungoat 1/2: the state of health of the FMA and prospects for the future|
(ANS – Rome) – In the second part of the interview released to ANS, Mother Yvonne Reungoat starts from her own experience and speaks about young people, the contribution which the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA) can offer, and her own vocation story.
What are the expectations and challenges of today? Does the world of youth still have a geography, or has globalisation unified everything?
There are certainly challenges specific to youth depending on their socio-cultural situations. In areas of greatest economic poverty young people are more motivated to raise their social status and they know how to profit from the opportunities offered to them. Those in richer countries are less motivated and take longer to reach human maturity. But these are only generalisations.
Globalisation has to some extent unified their needs and brought about new needs. At a world level, young people today are alike in many more ways than they are different. Languages, consumption, expectations, news media and new technologies have all been globalised.
I am not referring only to the negative aspects of globalisation – secularism, relativism, consumerism – but also to the positive aspects. For example, solidarity has been globalised, volunteering has become more popular and there is a new awareness about human rights and the dignity of each person. The deepest needs of the young are the same as ever: to love and be loved, to find meaning and happiness in life, to work for the common good, to make the world a home where all can live. Today young people want to be themselves: not just making their voices heard in protest, but making their resources available as committed youth. I believe that we are preparing to enter a new season, so long as we know how to listen to them and accompany them in their journey of human and Christian growth.
There is not just one language of youth, ‘cryptic’. There is another language consisting of simplicity, concreteness, freedom and gift. There is an often implicit question about meaning which needs to be brought to light and there is a hidden request from young people to be accompanied by significant adults in a world which is ever more multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious, without points of reference. The challenge for us is to accompany them to open themselves to others and to the Other, leading up to the explicit proclamation of Jesus.
The word ‘crisis’ is used in various circumstances, from economic to social, from values to the youth situation. What hope can the FMA offer?
The hope we can offer depends on what animates our own lives. The first sign of hope for young people is to find adults who are capable of hoping. The crisis, mostly seen in the west, is economic and social, a crisis of cultural and educational values. The ‘educational emergency’ can be interpreted as an emergency of fathers and mothers, of family homes, of upbringing.
The task of educating can be more difficult and our efforts hampered in a society which too often makes relativism its creed, which swamps the new generations with emotional gratification and exalts the ephemeral. I am convinced that we can offer hope to young people only if we overcome the crisis of authority into which many adults fall, often abdicating their responsibilities.
If, as FMA, we witness to the beauty and joy of our vocation if will be easier to set up a vast network of communion and dialogue with all those who care about the education of the young and with young people themselves.
In the name of all the FMA, I want to express our desire that many young women will discover the call to follow Jesus in our Institute. The field of educational need is immense. We can get through the current crisis, which is also vocational, if we are able to hand on the Salesian charism to new generations for them to develop and enrich. 140 years from our foundation I can see a broad and open horizon where our religious Family can continue to write pages of joyous fidelity, with the help of young women who are not afraid to commit their lives to following Jesus.
Can you tell us a little about your own vocational story?
In our family there was an uncle who was a Salesian missionary in Canada and we regularly received the Salesian Bulletin. That was how my parents discovered the existence of an FMA school in Dinan, in Brittany (France), where I could continue my studies. I was struck by the family spirit which reigned in the community. One day the superior ask me, ‘Have you ever thought about religious life?’. This direct question reawakened my desire to become a religious. It had been in my heart before I knew the sisters, but I had let it slip thinking that I could never achieve it. I must acknowledge that the superior in Dinan truly accompanied me and that the educational atmosphere in the community supported my journey. The FMA had the knack of turning us into leaders. They gave us little responsibilities, geared to our ability, in order to guide us towards the service of others. This accompaniment helped me to bring my vocational response to maturity. I felt gripped by God, but without that question, perhaps I would never have become a Daughter of Mary Help of Christians.
My time as a missionary in Africa enriched my vocation which then developed in a surprising way with my election as Visiting Councillor, Vicar General and finally Superior General. From the start I thought that this mission would totally overwhelm me and that I could fulfil it only because I could count on the help of the Lord and of Mary Help of Christians.
Being the ninth Successor of Mother Mazzarello is a task that can be undertaken only with the grace of God and through entrustment to Mary Help of Christians, who has done everything in my life. I am convinced that the Lord asks of us only our availability for him to work freely in us and make us instruments of his anticipating love.