Camagüey (Cuba). On 7 December 2021, the Province of St. Joseph of the Antilles (ANT) celebrated the 100th anniversary of the arrival in Cuba of the first missionary Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of presence in Cuba, a group of FMA from the four communities present in the area – Guanabacoa (Havana), Camaguey, Manguito, and Manzanillo – from 4 to 7 December 2021 met in Camagüey, the city of the first foundation, to experience a triduum on the most significant places of the origins and celebrate the Holy Mass on the anniversary day.

On 5 December, with about sixty Past Pupils, the FMA participated in the Eucharistic Celebration in memory of Miss Betancourt, a benefactress born in Cuba and resident in New York who, enthusiastic about the Salesian work, in 1915 had gone in person to Turin to meet Fr. Paolo Albera, 2nd successor of Don Bosco, and request the presence of the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in her homeland to take care of the poor and needy boys and girls.

In 1917, the first four Salesians of Don Bosco arrived in Camagüey from Spain, including Blessed Fr. Giuseppe Calasanz. In 1921 Miss Betancourt died, expressing in her will the desire for a work in favor of orphan girls with schools run by the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.

The first FMA:  Sr. Caterina Ferrando and Sr. Maria Catelli, arrived in Camagüey on 7 December 1921. Three months later, Sr. Maria fell ill and returned to Italy. In June 1922, Sr. Maria Bailo and Sr. Enrichetta Quaglia arrived. However, the work could not yet be realized, so the FMA expressed their desire to the Bishop to teach catechism and they were assigned to the parish of St. Anna. On 8 October 1922, they held their first catechesis with about thirty boys and girls, which in a short time became 500. Later, with the arrival of two other sisters, the festive oratory began and there was the gradual start of the school.

The house named after the benefactress, began regular activity in 1923, with the complete course of regular and professional schools, the oratory, and catechesis. Initially, the Houses of Cuba belonged to the Spanish Province and were later annexed to the Mexican Province. On 7 March  1941, the Antilles Province (ANT), which includes Cuba, was erected.

On 6 December, with about 300 Past Pupils, the FMA animated an itinerant Rosary reaching the Schools in Camagüey, founded in 1921, 1927, 1930, and bringing the flowers to the cemetery, on the tomb of the FMA. They also celebrated Holy Mass in the parish church of St. Anna, in memory of the FMA who held the first catechesis, Sr. Caterina Ferrando and Sr. Maria Bailo. For the occasion, a commemorative plaque was unveiled in their honor.

On 7 December 2021, day of the 100th anniversary, the Eucharistic Celebration in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Candelaria was presided over by Cardinal Juan de la Caridad, Metropolitan Archbishop of San Cristóbal of Havana and concelebrated by the Bishops of Camaguey and Manzanillo, and FMA Past Pupils. About 300 people were present at the celebration, including FMA, Past pupils, religious, priests, deacons, Bishops, families, and young people. At the end, about thirty adolescents and young people from Manzanillo animated a program of dances and choreographies with flags, expressing the joy and gratitude to the FMA for the good received and for all that they were able to achieve in the space of a century.


  1. Gracias queridas hermanas misioneras en esa bella Isla, que Dios las bendigas y las haga fecunda en la mision.


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