Thunderous applause from the Chapter members welcomed the Pontiff as he entered the Chapter Hall. Mother General, Chiara Cazzuola, welcomed the Pope, thanking him for his presence and expressing the joy of feeling “at home” in his presence!
“We are almost at the end of our 24th General Chapter in which we reflected on the theme «Do whatever He tells you (Jn 2,5): Communities that generate life in the heart of contemporaneity». It has been a very demanding process, and we are certain that the presence of Mary, our mother, teacher and powerful intercessor, guides us, as she did in these 150 years of the history of the FMA Institute, and calls us to a regeneration in the Holy Spirit who makes our Educative Communities generative of new life. As FMA we feel the desire for a profound vocational renewal, to enhance the joy and beauty of God's call. The encounter with you today, Holy Father, is for us, for our Chapter, an invitation to have more vital strength, more enthusiasm, more evangelical courage in living the mandate that the Church entrusts to us.”
Subsequently, Pope Francis, with his simple and familiar style, appreciated the centrality of Mary in the chapter reflection and invited them to do as She did and reminded the Chapter members: “Our Lady never retains anything for herself, but always points to Jesus.”
Then he lauded the service carried out by the FMA throughout the world, especially in the current multicultural and multi-religious social context of today even more marked due to the pandemic.
Focusing on the objective of the Chapter - to reawaken the original freshness of the vocational fruitfulness of the Institute - Pope Francis illustrated the challenges and the beauty of the Consecrated Life, without denying "the fragilities and struggles present in the communities", but at the same time stressing the possibility of experiencing within them "a kairós, a favourable time to go to the charismatic roots".
He recalled the dangers of "spiritual worldliness", that subtle and pernicious attitude which, without creating obvious scandals, ends up closing horizons and taking away peace; and he indicated as a way out the return and renewal of the charism, which, he continued, "is a living reality, not a stuffed relic" (...) It is creativity that gives fidelity to the charism. This is the way of the Church that the Holy Popes of the Council and of the post-Council have shown us".
He also emphasized the need to nurture communities interwoven with intergenerational, intercultural, fraternal and cordial relationships. For this you can draw on your family spirit, which characterized the first community, at Mornese”; and he indicated the example of the "first Daughters of Mary Help of Christians" and the first Salesians working in the peripheries of the metropolises in Latin America. “When they arrived in Buenos Aires - this is the beauty of the first Salesians - they did not go to the middle-class neighborhoods, no, they went to look for frontiers… What attracts a vocation? Holiness, zeal.”
Finally, inviting again to cultivate tenderness and closeness to young people, he spoke of the opportunity for renewal constituted by the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute, and concluded: "Do not forget the grace of the origins, the humility and smallness of the beginnings which made God's action clear in the lives and in the message of those who, filled with wonder, began this journey. Mary Help of Christians will guide you: you are her daughters!”