Austria-Germany. The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the Province of St. Mary D. Mazzarello of Austria and Germany (AUG) celebrate the centenary of their presence in the German-speaking area (1922-2022).
On 21 November 1922, six pioneer FMA, three Italian and three German, arrived at the invitation of the Salesians of Don Bosco in Essen – Borbeck, Germany, a working-class city dedicated to mining. Here the sisters found “the holy poverty of Bethlehem” (Chronicle of Essen Borbeck 1922). They took over the management of the Salesian House and the School and started the oratory, which soon flourished. Many girls felt attracted to the ‘happy sisters’ and there were many vocations, a good number of whom left for the missions.
Today the Province extends to Germany and Austria with 10 FMA communities, dedicated to the management of nursery schools, 2 secondary schools, after-school centers, and social support activities. The FMA are also active in the Youth Ministry of the territorial realities.
“100 years and a dream” is the motto chosen by the FMA of the AUG Province to celebrate this special anniversary. “We do not want only to celebrate our past, but to continue carrying out the dream for the young people of the present and the future”, explains Sr. Gisela Porges, Provincial Secretary.
The Logo, conceived by Ms. Karoline Golser, Head of Public Relations of the Province, in the first part shows the representation of the origins of the FMA Institute: Mornese, the origin of the DREAM.
The second depicts the first FMA who arrived in Essen in 1922 and in the background, there is a stretch of the city. The third part indicates the mission of the FMA in Austria and Germany: one FMA in habit and one in lay clothes, the girls, and the doves that distinguish the VIDES missionary association.
Children’s rights will be the guiding thread throughout the year, at the provincial level and in the individual communities, who each month will dedicate a small or large initiative to a children’s right.
Blessed Maria Romero Community of Salzburg, on 30 January 2022, began the centenary by celebrating the Holy Mass in honor of Don Bosco in the parish church of San Martino, in Liefering. In this community, an FMA has worked with children and young people on the theme of escape and home (Heimat): every child has the right to a home, to safety, and to feel protected.
The celebrant, Fr. Josef Pletzer, a past pupil of the Salesians, underlined the relevance and urgency of the mission of Christians to “keep their eyes open” to the needs of young people in society. The FMA and the students of the “Haus Mornese” residential community animated the celebration, with the collaboration of the “Praystation” prayer group.
The Eucharistic Celebration held on 30 January 2022, in the chapel of the FMA in Vöcklabruck, Austria, presided over by Fr. Siegfried Kettner, Provincial of the Salesians of Don Bosco of Guardian Angels Province (AUS), was broadcast on State television. The pupils and teachers of Don Bosco School of the FMA of the Community of Mary Help of Christians and numerous FMA participated.
In his homily, the Provincial referred to the theme of service and the motto “It’s beautiful that you are here!” (Schön, dass du da bist), with which young people are welcomed in the Vöcklabruck School, a sign of esteem and support for each one. The young people, coordinated by Sr. Elisabeth Siegl and the teachers of the School animated the celebration, accompanied by the School choir, who sang a polyphonic song on the words of St. Paul’s Hymn to Charity.
Another initiative, in collaboration with the Youth Ministry Institute (JPI) of Bendediktbeuern (Germany), are the “Don Bosco talks”, 5 “online colloquies” on the theme of children’s rights, in which the FMA, SDB, members of the Salesian Family, collaborators, and other interested persons participate.
The first “Don Bosco talk” took place on 10 December 2021, with Sr. Sarah Garcia, FMA, collaborator of the Youth Ministry Sector and Referent for the Human Rights Office (IIMA) of the FMA in Geneva (Switzerland), who shared the lobbying work for the defense of rights at the United Nations.
Invited for the 2nd meeting on 1 February 2022, was Mrs. Elisabeth Schaffelhofer – Garcia Marquez, Coordinator of the “Children’s Rights Network Austria”, an association of 46 organizations for the implementation of the UN Convention on the rights of the child in Austria.
Celebrating this double anniversary, 100 years of the FMA presence in the German-speaking countries and 150 years of the foundation of the FMA Institute, is for the Educating Communities of the AUG Province a reason for joy and gratitude for the fruitfulness of the Charism in the German language area.
Website of the 100th: www.100jahre.net