Sunday, November 25, 2012

Blessed Maria Troncatti

Blessed Maria Troncatti, FMA (1883-1969)

On Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, Sr. Maria Troncatti, FMA, was beatified at Macas, Ecuador, a city in the province of Morona, deep in the Amazon rain forest. Salesian Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, carried out the solemn ritual. Here is a sketch of Blessed Maria's life, based on material at www.sdb.org and an article of the Rector Major.

 

Young heart open to consecrated life

Maria Troncatti was born in Cortegno Golgi (Brescia), Italy, on Feb. 16, 1883. She grew up happy and hardworking amid her numerous family, dividing her time between the farm and caring for her little brothers and sisters, in the warm and loving atmosphere created by her exemplary parents. She regularly attended catechism in her parish, where she developed a deep Christian spirit and opened her heart to the values of a religious vocation.


First profession at Nizza Monferrato

In obedience to her pastor, however, she waited till she reached adulthood before asking to be admitted to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (Salesian Sisters). She made her first profession in 1908 at Nizza Monferrato. Her plan to life included "charity, at the price of being crushed to pieces."

During the First World War (1915-1918) Sr. Maria took a course in health care in Varazze and worked as a Red Cross nurse in a military hospital. This experience was to prove very valuable in the course of her long missionary life in the Amazon forests of Ecuador.


Missionary in Ecuador

She left for Ecuador in 1922, never to return to her homeland. She was sent to work among the Shuar Indians in the country's far eastern Amazon region. There, together with two other sisters, she began the difficult work of evangelisation. They faced dangers of every kind, including those caused by the beasts of the forest and by fast flowing rivers that had to be waded through or crossed on fragile "bridges" made from creepers or on the shoulders of the Indians.

In the equatorial jungle she proclaimed the Father's love and bore witness to that love to everyone. She was the "little mother," always ready to go not only to the sick but to all those who needed help and hope.
 

Nurse, surgeon, dentist...

Macas, Sevillia Don Bosco, and Sucua are some of the "miracles" of Sr. Maria Troncatti's work that still flourish. She was nurse, surgeon, orthopedist, dentist, anesthetist, and more. But, above all, she was catechist and evangelizer, rich in the wonderful resources of her faith, patience and fraternal love.
Sr. Maria at work in her clinic

Promotion of Shuar women

Her work for the promotion of the Shuar woman bore fruit in hundreds of new Christian families formed, for the first time, on a free personal choice on the part of the young couple.

Her staunch faith sustained her religious life and her missionary vocation:  "a look at the crucifix gives me life and the courage to work." She also felt the maternal presence of the Virgin Mary, Help of Christians.

A Salesian missionary who knew her testified that Sr. Maria was "the very incarnation of simplicity and evangelical cunning. With what delicate, motherly ways she conquers hearts! To every problem she finds a solution which, in the light of experience, always proves to be the best. She never forgets that she is dealing with weak human beings and sinners. I have seen her dealing with human nature in all its forms, including the most miserable; yet she does so with that refinement and kindness which in her are spontaneous and natural. What surprises me is that in everything and always, she remains delightfully a woman. I would say, the more the virgin, the more the mother."

Her life for her mission

 In the late 1960s, powerful tensions developed at Sucua between white settlers intent on developing the land and its resources, and the Shuar, concerned about losing their land thru fraud, and losing their traditional ways as well. The Salesian missionaries defended the rights of the native population, incurring the anger of some of the whites, who burned the SDB residence to the ground in July 1969. The Shuar massed for a vengeful attack that might well have massacred all the whites.



Bro. Cossu and Sr. Maria
While the priests tried to calm the angry Shuar, testifies Bro. Cosimo Cossu, who was there, "Unbeknownst to us, since she was unable to walk, Sr. Troncatti had someone take her to Macas by car – about 18 miles from Sucua – where she had worked for years, and there she went to the Marian shrine of the Virgin Most Pure to beg her for peace and to pacify her children at Sucua. She offered her life for the people entrusted to her.”
In the light of what would happen on Aug. 25, this episode took on a particular significance, because the strong tensions between the two factions crumbled before Sr. Troncatti’s body.
Sr. Maria died on Aug. 25 in a plane crash at SucĂșa as she and 2 other sisters were departing for their retreat at Macas, 1969. All the others aboard survived the accident. Her remains lie at Macas.

No comments: