MOTHER MARINELLA CASTAGNO
Mother Marinella was born in Bagnolo, Piedmont (Italy) in 1921. She attended middle school with the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Giaveno (Turin) and high school at Mary Help of Christians in Turin.
In 1946, she was accepted as a postulant and just two years later, made religious profession in Pessione (Turin), where she completed her novitiate. In 1952, she obtained a degree in natural sciences and the related certification for teaching science and mathematics and a diploma of specialization in psychology. She was at Mary Help of Christians school in Turin as a teacher, assistant, counselor and even principal until 1965. From 1965 to 1971 he was Superior in Milan, and from 1971 to 1973 she was the Provincial in Milan (Lombardy Province of “Mary Immaculate”).
On August 24, 1973, Mother Marinella was called to the General Council, with the job of visiting and reporting on various areas in the Institute. She performed canonical visits in different provinces from Italy to England, Ireland, USA, South Africa, Australia, and the Samoan Islands. During the General Chapter XVI, in 1975, Mother Marinella was elected General Councillor for Youth Ministry. In 1981, she was confirmed in the same office. At that time, the Past Pupils Association was added to the Youth Ministry sector.
On the death of Mother Rosetta in 1984, Mother Marinella was elected by General Chapter XVIII as Superior General and re-elected in the following Chapter in 1990. Her first wish, when she was just elected Mother General, was this: “When the Institute was handed on to me, the first thing I did was entrust everything to Mary Help of Christians. I asked her to protect the Institute and strengthen the will of every Daughter of Mary Help of Christians to respond in a full, dynamic and joyful way to the call of the God. From this flows every day, the same fire of love for the young which burned in the hearts of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello and that will make us like them ‘a transparency of the Father’s love.’ ”
LINES OF GOVERNMENT
During her time of leadership, Mother Marinella was able to visit the whole Institute twice. Her circulars feature a desire to live rooted in the historical memory of the Institute and of the charism of the Founders, as well as the constant call to ecclesial events or documents of the Magisterium. These letters attest to Mother Marinella’s profound and tangible sense of the Church and her commitment to developing Church teaching even in the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Under the leadership of Mother Marinella, the Institute continued its missionary expansion. During this time, the vitality of the Institute is clear, even though in terms of quantity, there was a decrease in personnel due to the increased age of the Sisters.
The most pressing problems that emerged in the years of her animation were mainly for the training of personnel and their qualifications. Her dream for the Institute was a renewal of a true mentality of faith and a new style of religious life which integrated Salesian and Gospel values with the changing socio-cultural situation.
She also affronted more and more the need for redimensioning works, not only by reducing or suppressing houses, or opening of other homes or work with a new educational setting, but by the adaptation of existing works to the real pastoral needs of today.
Urgent challenges to be addressed were the style of community relations, re-dimensioning for quality, and evangelizing, inculturated education.