Mother Yvonne's visit came just in time to celebreate the feast of St. Maria Mazzarello.
Mother Yvonne Reungoat with Sr Lucy Rose Ozhukayil and the Sisters of the SPR province were invited to a secondary Salesian school, Salesian College Sunbury, on the outskirts of the city of Melbourne, to celebrate the feast of St Maria Domenica Mazzarello with the Year 9 Mazzarello Campus Students and staff.
When Mother Yvonne, Sr Lucy and all the Sisters arrived, they were welcomed by the Rector, Fr Joe Binh SDB, the vice Principal, Angela Romano, Mr Stephen Connelly, Director of Faith and Mission at Salesian College who had planned this event with Mark, the principal, and other key staff in the school, together with Sr Rochelle Lamb FMA, Pastoral Assistant, and the School Captains from the senior level, Year 12 (17-18 year old students).
The Savio Campus students and staff formed a joyful, truly Salesian, welcoming guard of honour, with signs of welcome, as the Sisters made their way for morning tea. Unfortunately, the principal, Mark Brockhus, was at an all-day meeting of principals from other Salesian schools in the state of Victoria.
The Sisters were treated to a beautiful morning tea, and Mother Yvonne met with the staff during recess and affirmed the staff in their mission of education, sharing that their mission as educators among the young was of great importance as they assist young people to be faith-filled and active citizens of today for tomorrow.
This was followed by a visit by Mother Yvonne and the Sisters to what is known, at Salesian College, as Mazzarello Campus. It forms part of the many buildings at the College and houses the Year 9 students (14-15 years of age). These students have as their patron, St Maria Mazzarello, and their building, composed of eight classrooms, is named after St Maria Mazzarello. Mother Yvonne and the Sisters mingled among the students visiting their classrooms, as the students gladly showed all the work they were doing. The atmosphere was very cordial, friendly and formative. Before lunch a lively and meaningful Eucharist was celebrated in honour of St Maria Mazzarello.
As the Eucharist began, a student introduced the Mass by sharing that the well of Mornese and the window of the Valponasca meant a lot to the students as they try to deepen their faith (symbol of the well) and reach out to others in the spirit of Jesus (the window of the Valponasca). The Eucharist was presided by the Rector, Fr Joe Dinh. Sr Rochelle Lamb, who works at the school, led the music, and the Year 9 students enthusiastically joined in the singing. At the homily Fr Joe stressed the ordinariness of the life of Maria Domenica but also shared with the students about Maria’s strong relationship with Jesus which helped her to reach out to anyone in need. They, as students in a Catholic Salesian school, are called to do the same.
After Mass Mother Yvonne, Sr Lucy and all the FMA Sisters were invited to take a photo at a replica of the Mornese well which has been constructed near the Year 9 classrooms. This was followed by a delicious lunch prepared by the student body for all the Sisters. The grounds of Salesian College also contain the SDB-FMA cemetery. After lunch Mother Yvonne and all the Sisters went to pay their respects to all the Sisters who have died in the SPR province.
Lastly, and fittingly, Mother Yvonne, Sr Lucy and all the Sisters participated in a senior student assembly where students studying the Italian language welcomed Mother Yvonne in word and song in Italian. Angela, the vice provincial, then spoke and thanked Mother Yvonne for her presence on behalf of all the staff. Mother Yvonne was asked to speak and she stressed the Salesian aspect of forming lasting and genuine relationships with God and others as would Don Bosco and Maria Mazzarello. She also emphasised the necessity to have a zest for life and passion to live life to the full in such a vibrant, welcoming Salesian environment as Salesian College.
Mr Stephen Connelly then presented a new flag with the image of Mary Mazzarello to mark this auspicious occasion. This flag would be flown on special feast days. The school already flies a flag of Don Bosco and now, in the presence of Mother Yvonne, the Sisters, students and staff he asked Mother Yvonne to come forward and unveil a Maria Mazzarello flag that would also be flown for special school celebrations. Coupled with this, Stephen presented Mother Yvonne with a special Salesian College candle as a memento of her visit. The whole day concluded by all the Sisters of the SPR province singing a song for the students.
Mother Yvonne, Sr. Lucy and all the Sisters are extremely grateful to Mr Brockhaus, the College Leadership team, in particular Mr Connelly, the driving force behind this event, and all the staff and students of Salesian College for their enthusiastic welcome and for allowing us to spend this special day in honour of St Maria Mazzarello, our founder, among the young people of Salesian College, Sunbury. It was indeed a very meaningful, memorable and truly joyous Salesian day. Even the sun shone brightly all day, in spite of the dismal, cold and wintry day that was forecast.