ITALY, by Gisela Ciola •
I wanted to close these Christmas celebrations with a testimony of my experience as a missionary, which began in 2015. For me, “the Blessed Mother’s three graces arrived with the Three Kings.”
I began to mission at Trento with the Pilgrim Mother less than a year ago. There are no Schoenstatt Shrines or missionaries in northern Italy, so my preparation for this very important work was very special. I began my task when I received Fr. Juan José Riba’s blessing, in February of last year. I must confess I felt insecure; I was a little afraid of not doing things well or of not transmitting what I should or in way that it should be done for “her.” Not by coincidence, she immediately gave me the impetus that I needed, and “she chose” one of the two people, with whom I had prayed (before the Pilgrim Mother with which I mission) as the first family visit. Since then, she has not stopped visiting families.
A short time later, I remembered what I told the Blessed Mother on my first visit to the Original Shrine two years ago: “Mother, I know I am asking for a lot, I do not know what to offer of equivalent value as capital of grace, you decide, I place myself in your hands, I want to be your instrument.” These were the actual words: “I want to be your instrument,” and so it was, seven months later I am still the only missionary in this area!
I received a notebook with the Pilgrim Mother; the people who are visited can write their petitions and/ or gratitude, which creates a chain of prayers and expressions of gratitude.
While I read the pages that were written throughout this year, speaking with the Blessed Mother (in confidence): Mother, isn’t all of this too much for me alone? However, two pages further on I received the answer: upon reading and remembering the experiences of those she visited, I realized that the Blessed Mother had granted me her three graces! Do I still doubt? I am sure that she will continue to mark the road that I have to follow, and she will find the way so that all of this will continue to grow and reach many more people. And why not? Someday, I hope to realize my dream of having a Schoenstatt Shrine in northern Italy!
Gisela Ciola and her Pilgrim Mother in the mountains of Trentino
Thank you, Mother, for making me your instrument
I wanted my testimony to reach the greatest number of people possible, so I copied the actual words of gratitude that I wrote in the notebook that accompanies our Pilgrim Mother:
“Mother, I wanted to express my gratitude to you for our first year of pilgrimage together, and for granting me all your graces, not only to me; but to all the people and families, who joyfully welcome you. Thank you for allowing me to be a witness of your love and for making me your instrument.”
I want to express my gratitude to you especially for every person that you blessed, listening to our prayers, “protecting us with the mantle of a Mother:”
- For Monica, a mother who returned to her son stronger than ever;
- For Paolo, who you helped to overcome his illness resuming his work and life with his family;
- For Giglia, giving her and her children strength to combat a tumor;
- For Giorgio who was operated on without complications;
- For two other (anonymous) people who recovered from a coma after serious accidents and “they returned to life.”
Thank you for granting “inner transformation” to every one of us, for “my transformation” since I visited you in your, Original Schoenstatt Shrine in Germany, up to now.
Thank you also for “the mission” and for helping me to be a follower of Christ by taking his love to others. I feel a special need to give testimony for this gift I have received. Mother, you embraced me in your Shrine, you consoled me, you spoiled me and transformed my heart. You took me by the hand and you marked the road I was to follow…and here I am! Going on pilgrimage together, on mission with your picture, the only one in northern Italy, here, far from all your Shrines, but surrounded by many people who wait to welcome you in their homes, within their families, united in prayer for all the people who suffer or who are having problems, and in less than a year, here we are, expressing our gratitude for all the graces you have given us!
Thank you for removing all my doubts and fears and for making me your instrument!
I hope I can bring you to many people and families, so that you also can bless all of them and help us during this holy year to live in mercy.
“Nothing without You, nothing without us.”
United in Covenant solidarity, with all my heart, a thousand thanks for this fantastic year of mission!
Gisela Ciola and her Husband (Paolo Mairer) are grateful to the Blessed Mother for the blessings received in 2015 (Cathedral of Trento in the background)
Photos: Gisela Ciola. Photo above: Manger at Dante Square (center of the city of Trento).
Original: Spanish. Translation: Celina M Garza, San Antonio, TX USA – Edited by: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA