BEGINNING OF THE XAVERIAN MISSIONARIES OF MARY CONGREGATION
THE MISTERIOUS INTERWEAVING OF TWO “YES”
A design of heaven takes form thanks to the collaboration of two people that desire only to look for and do the Lord’s will, without imaging what is starting. The Xaverian Fr. James Spagnolo, a young priest (only 30 years old), finds himself involved in the project of the foundation of a missionary Congregation – the female branch of the Xaverian Institute. After, he will discover that the foundation of this new Congregation was the heart’s desire of Saint Bishop Guido Maria Conforti, but he couldn’t accomplish this during his life.
After talking with his superiors and with trustful people that encouraged him, Fr. Spagnolo understood that the Lord is asking him to take care of this project. He thought of asking Ms. Bottego, a 48 years old woman of great humanity and spirituality, to collaborate with him. She was teaching English to the Xaverian seminarians. Fr. Spagnolo brought the proposal to her, however she kindly had to refuse she did not feel she could take care of the project personally, however she was willing to help materially.
Fr. Spagnolo, convinced that the initiative comes from the Lord, dedicated himself to being attentive and humble listening to any signs of God’s will, staying in a prayerful and trustful waiting state.
HE WRITES, REMEMBERING THOSE MOMENTS:
I was well disposed to follow the Divine action. I have given my “yes” to the Lord, but He had to precede me, since I could only help Him poorly.
Approximately/Around one year later, during Easter of 1944, Fr. Spagnolo recently assigned as a Rector of the Xaverian Theology community, sent Easter wishes to Ms. Bottego using a card with the image of the Velasquez Crucifix. He wrote in the back the word “Tutto” (“All”); a word that “wanted to express the completeness of Jesus’ self-giving and His expectation of a total self-giving from His creature.”
Ms. Celestina Bottego was shock and perturbed. For her, the time of inner work had begun, while the drama of the Second World War continued.
The insecure situation and the danger due to the bombardments, forces Fr. Spagnolo to escape with the Xaverian seminarians to the Parma’s hills. Also Ms. Bottego found refuge in the same Apennine’s village and asks to be allowed to attend the meditations that Fr. Spagnolo was giving during the Spiritual Exercises of the Deacons to be ordinated priests. In that atmosphere of prayer and contemplation, Ms. Celestina understood that, to look only for Jesus and not for herself, she needed to surrender. On May 24, 1944, she pronounces her “yes.”
REMEMBERING THAT DAY, AFTER SHE WILL WRITE:
In an atmosphere of pure faith and fervor, I was guided to say my “yes” from a dim interior impulse to which I couldn’t resist. I knew that I was free, however I wasn’t.
What follows is a time of silence and prayer, in the precariousness of that last year of war. In faith and with lack of evidence, Fr. Spagnolo and Ms. Celestina prepare themselves for the paternity and maternity to which they are called. The first girl will arrive after a year.
A family born from a completeness/totally/whole thought
At the beginning of the Xaverian Missionaries of Mary there is a mystic experience, an impulse from the Holy Spirit, welcomed in an atmosphere of inner and deep listening of the word of God. Fr. Spagnolo is attracted by the omnipotent mercy of God, who work through poor and little instruments. The contemplation of the Crucifix attracts Ms. Celestina into the movement of total self-giving of Jesus and leads her to say a “yes” molded by Our Lady ‘yes’.
A Word, “Tutto”, changes the life project of Ms. Bottego and give a new configuration to Fr. Spagnolo vocation.
Their living faith and full availability to God’s plan make them a father and mother of a Missionary Family, sent to announce the Gospel – a gift of life and salvation.
Around them, young girls are involved in the same adventure, “daughters of a completeness/totally/whole thought,” as Fr. Spagnolo used to say.
The mission, first of any action from us, is a contemplation of the work of God, as Mary in her Magnificat, and become signs of His merciful love. It has not asked to us to generate works, but to take care of the work of God, to take care of His children, who wait for him knowing the name of the Father of all and the image of whom they were created from.