"Although virtually, I want to be near you and, above all, bring you the greetings and blessings of Holy Father Francis," so begins the message that the Vatican Secretary of State, card. Pietro Parolin, sent the academic community of the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS) of Rome, which celebrated the feast day of Mary Help of Christians - normally an occasion for a full cultural festival - with a program transmitted online on Zoom, on Friday 22 May.
In San Gregorio, Catania, Italy, the memory of Mary Help of Christians, in the vespers of the Solemnity of the Ascension, on May 23, coincided with the first Eucharistic celebration in the presence of the faithful after the pandemic. Before the celebration began, the Director of the "Sacred Heart" Institute commemorated people who died during the quarantine. The climate, however, was of great joy, also thanks to the liturgical animation of the young people.
The Don Bosco Technical School (DBTS) in Gabutu, Papua New Guinea, found creative ways to celebrate the feast day so dear to its Educational-Pastoral Community. "Marian Grottoes or Caves" were built on the institute's campus; colored banners were created representing Mary with the characteristics of inculturation; and an intense program of Masses was planned for the various course years of students, so as not to create gatherings, but giving everyone the opportunity to celebrate the Help of Christians.
Things were simpler in Vietnam, where the blockade of coronavirus activities and social distancing have been suspended by the government for weeks already. For this reason the faithful of the Salesian parish "Don Bosco" Xuan Hiep were able to participate in person in numerous celebrations, which included a procession of the statue of Mary Help of Christians, a floral offering, Mass and a bonfire with the letters offered to Mary by her devotees.
To conclude our overview, in Bolivia, at the Salesian work of Muyurina, Santa Cruz, the homage to Mary Help of Christians was not stopped even by the restrictions for the lockdown: escorted by a police van, the truck with the statue of the Madonna on board paraded through the streets of the neighborhood, accompanied by prayer, songs and tributes from a few people on the side of the streets - but many more in prayer in their respective houses.
Although it was not possible to do everything that is usually done to truly express the Salesian love and devotion to Mary Help of Christians, religious, lay people and young people have managed with their affection, prayer and creativity to participate and live special moments of thanksgiving and entrustment to Mary.