invites us to be witnesses to the love of God
A true Christian
and a genuine devotee of Mary is called to live life as witness.
All the events of life even the most painful and difficult ones,
can in this way be changed into an opportunity to bear witness,
without any other support than the strength of love and the convictions
of faith. In a hostile environment , one of rejection and of
lack of satisfaction it is still possible to live according to
the Gospel. This is no time for resignation or passivity. Nor
is it the time to say that things were better in the past. It
is the time to bear witness, overcoming with one's freedom, that
of the children of God, which enables us to make of our lives
a gift for others. A person who is not ready to serve as did
Jesus and Mary is not free. This cannot be improvised; it doesn't
happen in just a day, but requires constant effort: "with
your perseverance you will save your souls." Today more
than ever, we are invited to be constant in our efforts, since
persevering in doing good we shall save ourselves and make the
world a better to place to live in. Someone who has met the Lord,
who has experienced His love cannot but proclaim and take him
to other brothers and sisters. Someone who has experience of
the gifts of God and the faithfulness of his love is called to
bear witness to it in their words and in their life so that they
may become reasons for joy and the reawakening of faith also
In recent months we have received a number of examples of people's
witnessing to their joy in taking part in the International Congress
on Czestochowa, from those who have been touched by the faith
witness of the Polish people. Many has asked us how they can
help our groups to grow and be renewed through the involvement
of young couples and the presence of young people. For example
it is a consolation to know how the Youth Group of ADMA in Torino-Valdocco
has grown thanks to the "word of mouth" of many young
people who have invited their friends, companions at school,
young people in difficulty. In addition, the local, provincial
and national meetings have been an encouragement in the faith
journey as they travel together and share their faith experiences
and pass on the joy of belonging to ADMA.
We are helped in this by the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI. As
we invite you to appreciate the talks he gave in his recent apostolic
travels in Germany, we report several passages from what he said
during Marian evening prayer at Wallfahrtskapelle in Etelsbach.
"It is not self-realization, the desire for self-possession
and self-formation, that truly enables people to flourish, according
to the model that modern life so often proposes to us, which
easily turns into a sophisticated form of selfishness. Rather
it is an attitude of self-giving, self-emptying, directed towards
the heart of Mary and hence towards the heart of Christ and towards
our neighbour: this is what enables us to find ourselves
With Mary, God has worked for good in everything, and he does
not cease, through Mary, to cause good to spread further in the
world.... Yes indeed, in life we pass through high-points and
low-points, but Mary intercedes for us with her Son and helps
us to discover the power of his divine love, and to open ourselves
to that love. Our trust in the powerful intercession of the Mother
of God and our gratitude for the help we have repeatedly experienced
impel us, as it were, to think beyond the needs of the moment.
What does Mary actually want to say to us, when she rescues us
from some trial? She wants to help us grasp the breadth and depth
of our Christian vocation. With a mother's tenderness, she wants
to make us understand that our whole life should be a response
to the love of our God, who is so rich in mercy. "Understand,"
she seems to say to us, "that God, who is the source of
all that is good and who never desires anything other than your
true happiness, has the right to demand of you a life that yields
wholly and joyfully to his will, striving at the same time that
others may do likewise." Where God is, there is a future.
Indeed - when we allow God's love to pervade and to shape the
whole of our lives, then heaven stands open. Then it is possible
so to shape the present that it corresponds more and more to
the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then the little things
of everyday life acquire meaning, and great problems find solutions."
Lucca Tullio, President
Fr Pierluigi Cameroni SDB, Promoter of spiritual activities
2. Don Bosco, apostle of the Help of
Christians, and the Rosary (Fr Pierluigi Cameroni)
who John as a child testify to his love of prayer and to his
great devotion to the Blessed Virgin. John must have been very
familiar with the holy rosary, because from the earliest days
of the Oratory up to the last years of his life he always insisted
that his boys recite it every day. He never subscribed to the
idea that a religious community could be exempt from reciting
these prayers for any reason at all.. In his view it was a necessary
practice of piety for proper living as important as his daily
bread in sustaining his strength and keeping him alive "
(BM I 68).
Little John Bosco learned to love and pray the Rosary at the
school of Mamma Margaret, as he himself says: "Her greatest
care was given to instructing her sons in their religion, making
them value obedience, and keeping them busy with tasks suited
to their age. When I was still very small, she herself taught
me to pray. As soon as I was old enough to join my brothers,
she made me kneel with them morning and evening. We would all
recite our prayers together including the rosary" (Memoirs
of the Oratory). Mamma Margaret excelled as a teacher of prayer,
and prayer is a family matter, a question of faith sharing.
Having learned from his mother little John was not ashamed to
get his friends to say the rosary and prefaced his games and
entertainments with prayer and catechesis, beginning that style
of education which would make him a pastor of youth. "At
Becchi there was a field in which grew several trees. One of
them, a pear tree that is still there, was very helpful to me
then. I used to sling a rope from it to another tree some distance
away. I had a table with a haversack on it, and on the ground
a mat for the jumps. When I had everything set up and everyone
was eager to marvel at my latest feats, I would invite them to
recite the rosary and sing a hymn.
on the chair, I preached to them or, better, repeated as much
as I could remember from the explanation of the gospel I had
heard in church that morning; or sometimes I recalled episodes
from something I had heard or read. After the sermon there was
a short prayer, and then the show began. At that point you would
have seen, just as I am telling you, the preacher transformed
into a professional acrobat. I did the swallow trick and somersaults,
walked on my hands, tied the pouch around my waist, swallowed
coins and then produced them from someone's nose. I multiplied
balls and eggs, changed water into wine, killed and chopped up
a chicken and then brought it back to life again so that it crowed
better than before. These were part of my stock in trade. I walked
the tightrope like an ordinary path, jumped and danced on it.
and hung by one foot or one hand, sometimes by two. This went
on for several hours. At the end of it I was tired. A short prayer
brought proceedings to a close, and everyone went about his business."
(Memoirs of the Oratory).
It was thanks
to praying to Mary that Don Bosco finally came to rest with his
boys at the Valdocco oratory. After so much wandering about and
so many rejections, finally on Palm Sunday 1846 he was able to
announce: "Sunday, next Sunday, we'll go to our new Oratory,
which is over there in Pinardi's house." And I pointed the
place out to them. Wild enthusiasm greeted this announcement.
Some ran around shouting and jumping for joy; some stood stock
still; some raised their voices, I would say, to yelling and
screaming. They were moved like people who feel so intensely
happy that they cannot express their feelings. Overcome with
deep gratitude, we thanked the holy Virgin for hearing and answering
the prayers which we had made to her that very morning at Our
Lady of the Fields. Now we knelt for the last time in that field
and said the holy rosary. After that, everyone went home."
(Memoirs of the Oratory).
what the more common practices of piety were at the Oratory it
is said: "But dearest to his heart was the holy rosary.
For this reason he had included brief meditations for all fifteen
mysteries. He had the boys recite a third part of the rosary
every Sunday and holiday, and he exhorted them fervently to say
it daily in their own homes, if at all possible. As long as he
was the only priest at the Oratory he would recite five decades
with his mother every day; when boys began to board there, he
had them recite during Mass on weekdays.
From the time the Oratory was established in Valdocco until the
present day, its walls have echoed every morning to the words
of this prayer so dear to the heart of Mary and so effective
in times of trial for the Church. Only once a year was the rosary
recited in its entirety in the chapel, on the eve of All Souls'
Day for the souls in purgatory, Don Bosco never failed to take
part in it kneeling in the sanctuary and often leading it himself
" (BM III 13-14).
It is good
to remember that at the Becchi, Don Bosco's native village, on
the ground floor of his brother Joseph's house in a corner he
had made a small chapel, and Don Bosco dedicated it to Our Lady
of the Rosary. The little chapel was opened by him on 8 October
1848. There, every year until 1869 the saint celebrated the feast
of Our Lady of the Rosary, making it a solemn occasion with the
presence of the band and the choir of the boys from Valdocco.
That place was Don Bosco's first centre of devotion to Mary and
witnessed the beginnings of the Salesian Congregation. Here,
in fact, on 3 October 1852, Michael Rua and Joseph Rocchietti
received the clerical habit. Certainly too in this chapel Dominic
Savio also prayed on 2 October 1854, on the occasion of his first
meeting with Don Bosco and in the following two years during
the autumn holidays at the Becchi.
Don Bosco considered the recital of the Rosary one of the fundamental
points of his method of education. In February 1848 Marquis Robert
d'Azeglio, a personal friend of Charles Albert and a Senator
of the Kingdom, paid a visit to the oratory. Don Bosco accompanied
him as he visited the whole house. The Marquis expressed his
delight but with one reservation. He described the time spent
on lengthy prayers as time wasted.
did not like at all the recitation of fifty Hail Marys one after
another. He suggested that such a tedious practice be dropped.
- "Well," replied Don Bosco amiably "that practice
means a lot to me. I would say that my whole undertaking is based
on it. I wouldn't mind giving up many other important things,
but not this. If it should become necessary, I would sacrifice
even your very valuable friendship rather than abandon the recitation
of the Rosary (Cfr BM III 207).
The saint of youth was certainly one of the most fervent supporters
of the practice of the Rosary as a safeguard against the wiles
of the devil, to make the faith flourish, to obtain and to protect
the purity of the young, as a defence against error, to help
the Church: it was the rope of salvation with which to strike,
conquer and destroy all of hell's demons, as he explained in
a famous dream he had on the vigil of the feast of the Assumption
in 1862. "I want to tell you a dream I had some nights ago
. I dreamed that I was at my brother's home at Castel d'Asti
with all my boys. While they were at play, a total stranger came
up to me and asked me to go with him. He took me to a meadow
alongside the playground and pointed to a huge, ugly snake, over
twenty feet long, coiled in the grass. Frightened I wanted to
run off, but the stranger held me back:
"Get closer and take a good look," he said.
"What?" I gasped. "Don't you realise that monster
could spring on me and gobble me up in no time?"
- "Don't be afraid! Nothing of the sort will happen. Just
come with me."
- "Nothing doing! I'm not crazy!"
- "Then stay where you are," the stranger replied.
And he went to fetch a rope.
- "Take this end," he said on his return, "and
grip it tightly with both hands. I'll hold the other, and well
let it dangle over the snake."
- "And then?"
- "Then we'll snap it across its back."
- "You must be crazy! The snake will leap up and tear us
- "No, it won't. Leave that to me."
- "Count me out! I have no intention to risk my life for
a thrill of this kind!"
Again I tried to run away, but the stranger once more assured
me that I had nothing to fear because the snake would do me no
harm. He talked so persuasively that I stayed on and agreed to
his plan. He went around to the other side of the monster. We
stretched the rope and then snapped it across the snake's back.
The monster immediately sprang up and struck at the rope, but
as it did so, it ensnared itself as in a noose.
"Hold on!" the stranger shouted. "Don't let go!"
He ran to a nearby pear tree and tied his end of the rope to
it. Then he came to me and tied my end to the iron grating of
a window in the house . The snake kept furiously struggling to
free itself, writhing, thrashing, and flailing about. In its
fury it tore itself to pieces, scattering its flesh over the
area, till it was slashed to a mere skeleton.
The stranger then untied the rope and coiled it up. "Now
watch very carefully!" he said as he out it into a box and
closed it. By this time the boys had swarmed about me. Within
a few moments he opened the box. We looked in and were astounded
to see the rope shaped into the words Ave Maria.
- "How did that happen?" I asked.
- "The snake," the man replied, "is a symbol of
the devil, whereas the rope stands for Ave, Maria, or rather
the rosary, a succession Hail Marys with which we can strike,
conquer and destroy all of hell's demons." (BM VII 143-144).
Also the great missionary enterprise which launched the Salesians
into the whole world bears the signs of the Rosary as Don Bosco
saw in one of his missionary dreams: "I saw that our missionaries
mingled with them and taught them, and they docilely listened
and learned quickly. They readily accepted the missionaries'
admonitions and put them into practice. As I stood watching I
noticed that the Missionaries were reciting the rosary as they
advanced, and that the savages closing in from all sides, made
way for them and joined in the prayers" (BM X 47).
to the Rosary accompanied him to the end of his life as this
comment from 1886 bears witness: "During the Informative
Process, Father Francis Cerruti testified to his state of health:
'When his headaches, his congested chest and semi-blinded eyes
prohibited his taking part in any kind of work, it was both painful
yet consoling to see him sit on his shabby sofa for long hours
, at times in semi-darkness, because his eyes could not stand
the light. Yet he was always calm and smiling, his rosary beads
in his hand...I myself am firmly convinced that the last few
years of his life were practically one long and continuous prayer
to God " (BM XVIII 219-220).
O blessed Rosary
of Mary , the chain of beads which links us with God,
a bond of love which unites us with the Angels, a tower of salvation
in the assaults of hell,
a safe haven for the shipwrecked, we shall never leave you again.
You will be for us comfort in the hour of our agony. To you our
final kiss as life ebbs away.
And the final murmur on our lips will be your sweet name, O Queen
of the Rosary,
O our dear Mother, O Refuge of sinners, O Sovereign consoler
of the afflicted.
May you be forever Blessed now and for ever, on earth as in heaven
Between 2 and
4 September at Caracas there was the XXII Assembly and the XXIII
National Meeting of ADMA. After greeting the local groups from
La Dolorita, La Vega, Boleíta, El Vigía, Pan de
Azúcar, Puerto Ayacucho, San Félix, Puerto la Cruz:
Divino Niño, La Santa Cruz, Sierra Maestra, Valencia Centro,
Coro, Judibana, Villa Marina, Maracaibo, and Mérida) the
National President, Ingrid González de Gómez, spoke
about "Formation in personal life", while the Provincial
animator Fr Luis Azzalini, presented the three year programme
on the way to the bicentenary of the birth of Don Bosco. Special
attention was given to the delegation which took part in the
VI International Congress of Mary Help of Christians in Poland.
In the afternoon of 3, after Fr Azzalini had spoken again about
the subject of entrustment to Mary which Fr Carelli had presented
at the Congress, at the "Milagorsa" church the act
of entrustment to Mary Help of Christians, Mother of the Salesian
Family was made by all the animators. Young people from Dolorita
helped with the music with their group of Hijos e Hijas de María
(HHM), part of ADMA, who also described their experiences in
Poland using a video and photos. The final day was dedicated
in particular to the conclusions and the proposals from the various
groups in the light of what the Congress of Czestochowa had proposed.
There was also a visit from Fr Luciano Stefani, Provincial of
Venezuela, who helped us reflect on the effectiveness of the
ADMA, on what we are doing to be significant and to make a contribution
through our life with Mary, as a means of evangelisation, attracting
the young and forming ourselves so as to be able to pass on our
experience. In addition he exhorted us to carry out assessments
at local level to see what progress the Association was making
and what needed to be done to make it more alive, renewing it
in quality and quantity and maintaining links with the Salesian
movement and with the Salesian Bulletin. He then presided at
Mass and gave a homily full of faith and love of God, the mission
to know and to imitate Don Bosco today. In the final farewell
the National President invited those present to pass on to those
absent their experience of the meeting and the conclusions which
had emerged, as well as living up to the commitments undertaken:
to continue to work above all for the Kingdom of God and of his
Mother, Mary Help of Christians, for our families and for our
country. The apostolate needs to be constant, drawing children
and young people to conversion and involving them so as to give
a new look to the ADMA. By going out of church and from home
along the streets visiting families, especially those more at
a distance so that the word and the message of Jesus might reach
them. In this our great help is the Lord who gives us as guide
and leader Mary Help of Christians (Ingrid González de
Gómez - National President).
On 10 and 11
September at Bucaramanga there was meeting of the ADMA groups
in the area, at which 50 people from Bucaramanga, Contratación,
Barrancabermeja, Cucuta, Pamplona took part. With me there was
the Provincial President, María del Pilar Lucas, and the
Deacon Juan Diego López. Topics dealt with were: preparation
for the bicentenary of the birth of Don Bosco, Mary in the Aparecida
document and in the life of Don Bosco. I also visited the Agua
de Dios group, a group in formation which will make its commitment
in December. Finally on 23 September in the auditorium of Juan
Bosco Obrero-Bogotá, there was a Mass at which Fr Luis
Bernardo Mur, Provincial Delegate for the Salesian Family presided
and Fr. Carlos Julio Aponte, Rector of the house, Fr. Jaime García
and Fr Daniel Mendez concelebrated. The young Salesian students
of theology contributed to the liturgy. The reasons for the celebration
were the feast of Don Bosco, the beginning of the period of preparation
for the bicentenary if the birth of Don Bosco and the commitment
of 24 new members of the ADMA (Fr Luis Bernardo Mur, Provincial
Delegate for the Salesian Family).
On Sunday 18
September 2011 the elections were held for the Regional Council
of Sicily, at San Cataldo, in the Institute of the Daughters
of Mary Help of Christians. Sixteen ADMA centres were represented
(Alcamo, Caltagirone, Calatabiano, Canicattì, Capaci,
Catania Maria Ausiliatrice, Catania San Francesco, Floridia,
Gela, Marsala, Messina SS.Pietro e Paolo, Modica, Palagonia,
Palermo Ranchibile, Pozzallo, Taormina and a group of ADMA young
supporters from San Cataldo). Also present were the Regional
delegates, Fr Edoardo Cutuli and Sr. Carmelina Cappello, the
Vice Provincial of the F.M.A. Sr. Gina Sanfilippo. It was a special
grace for everyone also to have present the World Animator Fr
Pierluigi Cameroni, who led the day of formation for the local
Councils in Sicily. After a time of prayer prepared by Fr Sebastiano
Leotta, there was a report on the VI International Congress of
Mary Help of Christians, in which thanks were offered to the
Holy Spirit for the marvels accomplished. The hymn of the Congress
Totus Tuus was also sung. Fr Pierluigi gave a commentary on the
opening prayer and emphasising the fruits of the World Congress:
the renewal through devotion to Mary the popular dimension of
the Salesian charism. Mary Help of Christians is Our Lady of
difficult times and not only those in Don Bosco's day, but also
nowadays when we are experiencing a great crisis of faith, in
a culture in which everything is relative everything is allowed.
We cannot build a Europe without Jesus Christ, overturning the
values of life and of faith. Czestochowa was a choice inspired
by God since the Poles have a very strong faith, and their love
for the Madonna of Jasna Gora, is very striking, seen also in
the many pilgrimages to the sanctuary, some undertaken on foot
for hundreds of miles to render her homage. After the showing
of a video on the history of ADMA and its present situation Fr
Pierluigi invited those who had taken part in the great event
at Czestochowa to speak about their experience. At Mass concelebrated
by all the ADMA delegates present, Fr Pierluigi recommended everyone
to work with humility, a spirit of service and witness, in order
to be credible Christians and true disciples of Jesus. In the
afternoon in assembly there were the elections for the new Council
after which the outgoing President, Mrs Luigina Ciaramella, gave
a short account of the previous four years. The following were
elected: Auteri Giuseppe, Ciaramella Luigina, Petitto Venera,
Canale Maria, Burrascano Nicola, Russo Rosario and Fichera Maria
Grazia. The meeting ended with the prayer of entrustment to Mary
and the gift to all those present of a small flower containing
the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa. Petitto Nerina -Regional
- MESSAGE FROM ADMA PHILIPPINES
to Fr Cameroni, Tullio, ADMA Turin, SDB-FMA Poland and to all
the organizers of this momentous event: the VI ADMA International
Congress in Czestochowa, Poland! Our Eucharistic Lord and Our
Lady, Help of Christians are the reason behind the success of
this event. They made everything possible. It is truly the hand
of God at work in this event! It is truly a Salesian family event
able to meet different faces, culture and nations around the
as brothers and sisters in Christ! I would also like
to congratulate the young people who participated in the congress.
They are very enthusiastic in their love for Jesus and Mary!
They made the event a taste of "World Youth Day"
Again thank you very much for
this very beautiful, unforgettable and divinely-inspired event!
Together, let us bring Jesus and Mary in our homes....let us
bring them back to the world!
We would like
to invite all ADMA members and groups to look back on all the
texts and material collected and to make use of it for training.
By Christmas, the DVD in 4 languages (Italian, Spanish, English
and Polish) will be ready, along with the various contributions
and videos from the Congress. ADMA's national congresses which
are interested, should write down the language and number of
copies they wish to receive by writing to email@example.com
On the website (www.admadonbosco.org) can be found ADMA's guideline
commitments for 2011-2012.