Vöcklabruck (Austria). On 19 November 2022 in Vöcklabruck, Austria, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the Province of Saint Mary D. Mazzarello of Austria and Germany (AUG) celebrated the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first sisters in Essen, Germany (1922- 2022).

About one hundred guests were present at the event, including Msgr. Alois Kothgasser, SDB, Archbishop emeritus of Salzburg (Austria); and Msgr. Ludwig Schwarz, SDB, Bishop emeritus of Linz (Austria); Fr. Reinhard Gesing, SDB, Provincial of St. Boniface Province of Germany (GER); and Fr. Siegfried Kettner, SDB, Provincial of the Guardian Angels Province of Austria (AUS), welcomed by the Provincial, Sr. Petra Egeling, and the other FMA present.


Starting from the question of a child about whether the Sisters of Don Bosco have an ‘identity card’ that ‘identifies’ them as religious,  Archbishop Siegfried Kettner in his greeting, called attention to a special characteristic of the Sisters, they laugh. Already in 1922, this cheerfulness earned the Sisters of Essen (Germany) the nickname of “cheerful Sisters”.


With a varied program, coordinated by Sr. Maria Maul,  the first hundred years of FMA presence in the German-speaking area were remembered.

In her presentation, Sr. Gisela Porges, Provincial Secretary, took the audience back to the year 1922. In the 1920s, people’s lives in Germany were marked by the post-war period: poverty, unemployment, and the trauma of war were aggravated by a strong inflation. The infant mortality rate in Germany was the highest in Europe; many people did not have a roof over their heads and long queues of needy formed in front of the city soup kitchens.

Mission and opportunity today

In two films, one with an imaginary child from 1922 and the other with a young modern woman, the difficulties of young people then and now were told.

The birth of the Province took place in a period of crisis and the jubilee coincides with a period also marked by various crises. Children and young people suffer especially, and even more when they are discriminated against on the grounds of origin, social status, gender or disability.

Encouraging these young people, empowering them, giving them a ‘home’ and an education, has been the mission of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians for a hundred years.

“Cafe of stories”

In the afternoon, the guests were invited to the “cafe of stories” for a dynamic exchange of curiosities and memories. At seven tables, it was possible to ask questions about the life, spirituality, and mission of the sisters.

Women of Hope

Regarding the future of consecrated life and of the Church, the FMA and the Salesians of Don Bosco are today particularly challenged not to join in the pessimism of the time. “As religious, we are people of hope”, underlined the Provincial, Fr. Reinhard Gesing, in his homily. “Today, great words no longer count, but only an authentic life. May every action truly be an act of God’s love, as Mary Mazzarello had already said to her Sisters.”

The FMA have borne abundant fruit. None of their daily actions have entered the history books, even though they deserved to. But the history of God’s salvation does not depend on words, but on deeds. And in this we Salesians can still learn from our Sisters.”

Website of the 100th: www.100jahre.net

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