Faq

  • What do the letters FMA stand for?
    FAQ - What do the letters FMA stand for? They stand for the Italian title, Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice (Daughters of Mary Help of Christians) which was the name Don Bosco desired for his Religious. In English-speaking countries the Sisters are more often known as Salesian Sisters.

  • What does charism mean?
    FAQ - What does charism mean? It is a gift God grants to some people for the good of all. It becomes and integral part of a person’s or an institution’s identity and characterises its mission. Within the Church the FMAs’ charism is that of a special predilection for young people, especially those of the working classes. They devote themselves to youth through educational and promotional activities both in Christian countries and those still being evangelised.

  • What led Mary Domenica Mazzarello to collaborate in founding the FMA
    FAQ - What led Mary Domenica Mazzarello to collaborate in founding the FMA? She felt called to dedicate her life to the Christian education of young women and in this she was encouraged by Don Bosco when she met him in Mornese, her home village. At that time Mary Domenica belonged to a Marian association with a deep spirituality that overflowed in social action. She gave a joyous welcome to Don Bosco’s proposal to create an educational environment for girls, similar to the one he had established for boys in Turin. She thus became a leading figure in the new Institute of the FMA, an institution dedicated to the education of young people and which today has spread throughout the five continents.

  • What is the link between your Institute and that of the Salesians?
    FAQ - What is the link between your Institute and that of the Salesians? We share the same founder, Don Bosco, who wanted our Institute to be an expression of love and gratitude for Mary Help of Christians and a response to the educational passion which burned within him. With the active help of Mary Domenica Mazzarello, Don Bosco founded the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (Salesian Sisters) who, in the Church, share the same charism as the Salesians.

  • What does the term ‘animation’ mean?
    FAQ - What does the term ‘animation’ mean? ‘Animating’ means furthering the person’s development from every point of view, bringing him/her to self-awareness and re-awakening or rousing up her/his energies so that s/he made lead a full life. At every level in the Institute – from the Mother General, to the provincial and community leaders – we aim at achieving a co-ordinated and convergent animation directed to the unity and growth of the person. Animation corresponds in the Institute to the style of relationships between persons, especially between those who exercise the service of authority and the persons entrusted to them.

  • How can I share in the life of the Salesian Sisters?
    FAQ - How can I share in the life of the Salesian Sisters? By participating in their educational aims and proposals. As FMA we are a family that is open and welcomes all those who would like to work along with us and share our Salesian spirituality. We are a group of consecrated women living in community with a common mission. Our Past Pupils have a particular relationship with the Institute in virtue of the education they have received. Besides the Past Pupils, the Institute also fosters other volunteer and leisure time associations which allow young people, adults and children to actively share in our educational charism, to take part in our lives.

  • What is the role of the ‘Visiting Councillors’?
    FAQ - What is the role of the ‘Visiting Councillors’? The seven Visiting Councillors, who are part of the General Council, have the task of visiting the provinces of the Institute and of living some time with the communities. The Visiting Councillor has the possibility of experiencing different cultures and realities, of establishing relationships within a network of mutual exchanges and meetings and of animating the communities to live Salesian spirituality in the family spirit. Through this service, the Visiting Councillors are able to offer the Mother General and the rest of the council a better knowledge of the Sisters and environments in which they carry out our mission and to strengthen the charism.

  • How can I take part in the missionary life of the Salesian Sisters?
    FAQ - How can I take part in the missionary life of the Salesian Sisters? All of us FMA have an educational mission. This is our charism. Whoever shares in it with us, is already part of that. Many of us have received a specific mandate and become missionaries at the cutting edge among the poorest peoples in he world or where the Gospel has not yet been preached. In various mission stations (in Africa, America, Asia , Oceania and even in Europe itself) many lay people, both adults and young people, work with us and are an active part of the educating community. Very often they are young volunteers of VIDES or other organisations.

  • How do you become a Salesian Sister (FMA)?
    FAQ - How do you become a Salesian Sister (FMA)? The starting point is the Lord’s call to a life of special consecration that he extends to those whom He chooses to follow him more closely. When a young woman is thinking about becoming an FMA we pay particular attention to the reasons behind her choice and gradually help her to clarify them. We then offer her a journey of initial formation which consists of the following stages:
    • Period of assessment and guidance , which lasts at least a year. It is a time in which the young woman verifies her life project by having some experience of it and the Institute assesses if she has the necessary qualities to live the Salesian vocation.
    • Postulancy. It lasts at least 10 months and is preparatory to the noviciate
    • Noviciate. It lasts for 2 years. In this stage the young woman learns what it means to live as an FMA, she come to know Salesian life and spirituality at a deeper level and makes her own the Gospel values. Her specific task is the study and deepening of the Institute’s Rule of life. of life.
    • Period of temporary vows. This lasts from 6 to 9 years and immediately follows the first profession of vows. At the end of this period, the young Sister can decide to take religious vows forever.
    After this time of initial formation (that lasts at least 10 years) one becomes part of the Institute forever.

  • Which groups are linked to the Salesian Sisters?
    FAQ - Which groups are linked to the Salesian Sisters? The Past Pupils belong to the family of the FMA and can join the world-wide Confederation which unites them in an international network. The Institute has also set up a volunteer association (VIDES – Voluntary –International- Development- Education- Salesian) which has spread to many countries. As FMA we are part of the Salesian Family which has the Rector Major of the Salesians as its own animator and centre of unity. By sharing in the same charism we are in communion with all the groups that belong to the Salesian Family.

  • What is the role of the Mother General?
    FAQ - What is the role of the Mother General? According to our Rule of life she carries out a role of animation, formation and guidance for all the FMA. In the Institute she is the bond of communion and its centre of unity and its official representative. She is responsible for the life and works of the Institute. In her service of animation she is assisted by the Vicar General, 13 other Councillors and the Secretary General.

  • What is the role of the ‘Vicar General’?
    FAQ - What is the role of the ‘Vicar General’? She is the first and closest collaborator of the Mother General in animating the Institute. She carries out the tasks entrusted to her by the Mother General and takes her place in the latter’s absence.

  • What is the FMAs’ commitment to young people?
    FAQ - What is the FMAs’ commitment to young people? The Salesian educational charism basically orientates us to dedicate ourselves to young people and to be on their side so that they may have life and have it to the full. For this reason we accompany them in their human and spiritual growth; we strive to awaken in their hearts the thirst for God and to direct them along the paths that lead to Him. Don Bosco gave us the task of forming them to be good Christians and upright citizens.

  • Is it possible to visit the ‘Exhibition of the Charism’?
    FAQ - Is it possible to visit the ‘Exhibition of the Charism’? Of course. It is located in the Generalate, Via dell’Ateneo Salesiano 81, Rome. For a guided tour, just make prior arrangementss.

  • What is meant by "areas of special concern"?
    FAQ - What is meant by ‘areas of special concern’? Everything that is specific to a particular Sector in the overall animation of the Institute: challenges, criteria, guidelines, strategies.
    As a whole, the General Council pursues a line of animation that is ‘co-ordinated and convergent in the service of communion’, avoiding departmental bias or ‘independent’ processes.
    The line is rather that of ‘inter-dependence’ in which the autonomy of each Sector is open to sharing and discernment in order to achieve the aims deriving from the charism.
  • Which are the main activities of the Salesian Sisters?
    FAQ - Which are the main activities of the Salesian Sisters? In the 1535 communities where we work throughout the world we express our educational charism in various environments and activities. The main ones are:
    • Schools of different types and grades
    • Vocational training centres
    • University hostels
    • ‘Oratories’ – youth centres
    • Centres for the formation of catechists
    • Spirituality centres for young people
    • Works for children, adolescents and young people at risk
    • Centres for the advancement of women
    • Reception centres for refugees


  • As a lay woman can I share in the life and activities of the Salesian Sisters?
    FAQ - As a lay woman can I share in the life and activities of the Salesian Sisters? If you experience a deep longing for joy and meaning in your life; if you feel a strong desire to give something of yourself to others; if you are really keen to spend time with young people; if you are enthralled by the person of Jesus and want to tell others about Him; if you like living and working with other like-minded people: then you are very close to FMA spirituality and can take part in the life and mission, as a lay person, even living in your own family and undertaking outside employment.