General Council’s Fuori Roma in Castelfranco Veneto

The General Council met from 28th January to 3rd February for an intensive working session away from its usual Roman surroundings. This time, we were warmly welcomed by the Missionaries of Africa community in Castelfranco Veneto for our Fuori Roma (Outside Rome), and each day revolved around two working sessions, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

Wednesday 31st January saw a welcome break in our busy programme. Accompanied by our confrere Luigi Lazzarato and permanent deacon Mario, we travelled to Schio to pay homage to Saint Josephine Bakhita. Saint Bakhita, once a slave in Sudan, found her way to freedom and faith and became a nun in the Congregation of the Canossian Daughters of Charity in Italy. We started our pilgrimage with a time of personal prayer at the saint’s tomb. Angela Sartori, fdcc, a former missionary in the Congo, was kind enough to guide us through the chapel, the museum and the saint’s bedroom. It was much more than a simple visit. It was a precious opportunity to deepen our knowledge of the miraculous life of the saint. Sister Angela’s fervent words transformed the experience into authentic catechesis. We were moved by Bakhita’s stories and her unshakeable devotion to God despite her trials. Saint Bakhita said: ” I never despaired when I was a slave, even in the depths of discouragement and sadness, because I felt a mysterious force within me that sustained me. I didn’t die because the good Lord had destined me for “better things”. And I finally came to know the God I had always felt in my heart since I was a little girl, without knowing who he was”. Guided by faith and the desire to learn from her example, we offered prayers for our personal needs and our missionary Society as a whole. As a Society dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel and promoting justice and peace, we found in Saint Bakhita a model of strength, resilience and compassion. We brought relics of Saint Josephine Bakhita from Schio to the Generalate. These relics, imbued with her holiness and blessing, will constantly remind us of her presence.

Thursday, 1st February, was dedicated by the Missionaries of Africa community in Castelfranco Veneto for the celebration of the anniversaries of the priestly ordination of our dear confreres Fausto Guazzati, Luigi Lazzarato, Giancarlo Pirazzo and Alberto Rovelli as a special day of thanksgiving and gratitude to the Lord for their missionary life.

The evening of Friday, 2nd February, the last day of our Fuori Roma in Castelfranco Veneto, was marked by a celebration with local religious men and women to honour the day of prayer for consecrated life. This particular day, observed on the Solemnity of the Presentation of the Lord, was an opportunity to reflect on the gift of consecrated life to God and to renew our commitment. After Mass in the cathedral, we joined the religious men and women of Castelfranco Veneto for a fraternal meal. The sisters of the Disciples of the Gospel generously opened their doors to welcome us, thus creating a space for communion and sharing where we strengthened our bonds of fraternity. We shared a meal, smiles and prayers, creating precious memories that will stay with us long after we leave Castelfranco Veneto.

We are grateful to our confreres from Castelfranco Veneto for their warm welcome and generosity, and we pray that the fraternal bond we shared will continue to unite us in prayer and missionary service to God and our brothers and sisters.

By: Pawel Hulecki (M. Afr.) General Assistant

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