Lima (Peru). The Province of St. Rosa of Lima (PER), along with the whole Salesian Family, celebrated the 130th anniversary of the arrival of the first Daughters of Mary Help of Christians who, with the Salesians of Don Bosco, reached the coast of Peru, in the port of Callao, on 28 September 1891.
According to historical and ecclesiastical sources, there were various requests for a Salesian presence in Peru to take care of the needy youth following industrial development. Fr. Giacomo Costamagna, who arrived in America with the 3rd missionary expedition, became superior of the missions in the Pacific and went to Peru at the request of Fr. Michele Rua to get to know the new mission field and meet the authorities.
The first Salesians of Don Bosco and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians left Turin on 16 August 1891 and on 22 August they embarked in Genoa, headed for American lands. The expedition was made up of two priests, Fr. Carlo Pane and Fr. Guido Terzuolo, and the Coadjutor Giovanni Sciolli; and nine Daughters of Mary Help of Christians from the house in Nizza Monferrato: Sr. Angela Piai, Sr. Luigia Pompignoli, Sr. Lavinia Albertini, Sr. Luigia Grassi, Sr. Marcellina Zinelli, Sr. Rosa Devalle, Sr. Teresa Tapparello, Sr. Isabel Mayo, and Sr. Luigia Ruatta.
The Director of the new Salesian presence was Fr. Antonio Riccardi, who had come from Patagonia to receive the group arriving from Italy. For the first days, the FMA were hosted by the Vincentian Sisters and the SDB by the Vincentian Fathers.
On 15 October 1891, the FMA settle at the Seville Institute and take on the work entrusted by the “Charity of Lima”, which consists in taking care of about 100 girls, most of them orphans and in difficulty, some from families who were ruined after the war, others from working class families. On 8 December 1891, the Salesians opened the Oratory in a house in the district of Rímac, north of Lima. From there, SDB and FMA expanded the range of the mission by opening new presences, first in Lima and then throughout the country. Through a Video, the Salesians of Don Bosco recount 130 years of history.
On 26 September 2021, the Salesian Family of Peru met in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Lima, in presence or in live streaming, to thank God for the 130 years of Salesian presence in Peru. The Eucharistic Celebration, concelebrated by the Salesians of Don Bosco of St. Rosa Province (PER), was presided over by Fr. Hugo Orozco, SDB, Regional Councilor for Inter-American, who thanked Peru for its people, for the young people, and for those of the Salesian Family and collaborators who believe in the love that God has for young people.
Fr. Hugo stated that “We are witnesses of so much love given, which invites us to continue with hope, to share the mission with the many people who feel ‘Salesian’. This commits us to continue to work with enthusiasm and creativity, so that God’s Providence may open a beautiful future to many poor, excluded, left-behind young people whom we must love as they are loved by God, working in synergy with other groups of the Church and society”.
On 28 September 2021, the day of the 130th anniversary, the FMA Communities of St. Rosa of Lima and Mary Help of Christians of Breña, Lima, gathered in the Province Chapel to celebrate Holy Mass in thanksgiving for the first sisters and for all the FMA who gave life to the Province and sowed with each one’s dedication, the Salesian charism in Peru. Numerous Past Pupils thank the FMA for having left a mark in their life and for having educated them in an integral way.
For the occasion, the Mother General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Yvonne Reungoat, from Rome where the XXIV General Chapter is underway, sent a Message to the FMA, to the young people, to the Educating Communities. Mother Yvonne thanked the Lord and Mary Help of Christians for the vitality of the Salesian charism in Peru and encouraged the FMA to prepare the new generations so that they can build a world according to God’s plan, more human, fraternal, in solidarity, with the collaboration of everyone, even in this difficult time that we find ourselves living.
“The Lord, present in history, opens the horizon to the future and with Him we can have hope and joy, which can never be lacking in Salesian life. It is hope that God is greater than everything, that in every person there is the potential for the good. We must help to accompany it, so that it grows, and is put in common, creating networks in synergy for the construction of a better world, in the style of the Preventive System, the family spirit”.
While preparing to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the FMA Institute, during the XXIV General Chapter, and in the Bicentennial Year of the Independence of Peru (1821-2021), the celebration of the 130th anniversary of Salesian presence in Peru was an opportunity for Past Pupils, Educating Communities, Groups of the Salesian Family, to remember, thank, and consolidate their commitment to contribute to Salesian history, forming “good Christians and honest citizens”, at the service of the Church and society.