Monterrey (Mexico). On 5 August 2022, the FMA and the Educating Communities of the Mexican Province Mother of the Church (MMO) celebrated the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the FMA Institute in the Salesian Parish of Mary Help of Christians in the City of Guadalupe. The solemn celebration was prepared for by a triduum, in which Mary’s words resounded, “The Almighty has done great things in me and Holy is His name.”
On 4 August, at the conclusion of the Spiritual Exercises in the House of Holy Mary of Nazareth in Arteaga, Coahuila, the renewal of the religious vows of three temporary professed FMA took place, while one renewed in Italy. The ceremony was presided over by Fr. Rafael Vicent, Salesian of Don Bosco of Christ the King and Mary Help of Christians (MEG) Province, who accompanied the Spiritual Exercises of the Province throughout the year. The Provincial, Sr. Leonor Salazar, received the vows in the name of the Superior General of the FMA Institute, Mother Chiara Cazzuola. For the first time after the pandemic, the ceremony had the presence of a large group of FMA who gave a special touch of joy that ended with a time of fraternal conviviality, in an atmosphere of joyful expectation in view of the big feast of 5 August.
On 5 August in Arteaga, in the chapel of the same House, the Bishop of the Diocese of Saltillo, Msgr. Hilario González García, with four SDB priests, presided over the Celebration of the First Professions of two young women, in the hands of the Provincial, Sr. Leonor Salazar, delegated by Mother General. Present were the parents of the newly professed, the closest relatives, and a large group of FMA from the Province.
Who would have ever thought … are the words repeated many times by the Bishop in the homily, underlining the counter-current choice of the religious profession of two young women who, with this act, express the will to follow Jesus, breaking the mold of self-referentiality and the search for success. The same words, Archbishop Hilario observed, will have been repeated many times 150 years ago, amid glances of disapproval and compassion in the village of Mornese, when eleven women, led by Mary Domenica Mazzarello, began an educational work with few resources and that today extends to 97 countries on five continents, trusting only in God’s Providence, in the word and holiness of the Founder, St. John Bosco.
At the end of the Celebration, the FMA choir sang “O qual sorte, siamo Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice”, which made the hearts vibrate of those who shared this historic time. The event ended with fraternal conviviality and the transfer to the City of Guadalupe, the seat of the Province, to participate in the evening in the official celebration of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute.
The solemn Eucharist took place in the parish church of Mary Help of Christians, completely filled with the people and the typical Salesian atmosphere of joy and gratitude to God for the gift of the FMA Institute. Everyone, young and old, families, Past Pupils, Salesian Cooperators, relatives, friends, benefactors, children, and young people wanted to celebrate this event with the FMA, as an important part of this “Living Monument of Gratitude”.
The celebration was presided over by the Bishop of the Mixepolitan Prelature, Msgr. Salvador Cleofás Murguía Villalobos, SDB, and concelebrated by the Provincial of the MEG Province, Fr. Filiberto González; by Fr. Osvaldo Gorzeño, SDB, Delegate of the Salesian Family of Northern Mexico; by the Director of the Community of Mary Help of Christians, Fr. Alejandro Martínez Kempt; by the parish priest, Fr. Manuel Chávez Molina; and by other SDBs. The Jésed choir, very close to the FMA, added further solemnity to the celebration. Signs of the fruitfulness of the educational mission were also the Sisters who celebrated the 60th, 50th and 25th anniversary of religious profession and the memory of the life of numerous Sisters already in Paradise, who left an indelible mark on many families of Mexico, where the FMA have been present for 116 years.
The Eucharist was enriched by the fraternal and heartfelt homily of Archbishop Salvador Cleofás, who then gave the word to Sr. Leonor Salazar who shared the life, mission, and witness of the Institute’s journey in these 150 years; and to Fr. Osvaldo, for a brief message as Delegate of the SF. After the solemn blessing, a group of children, adolescents, young people, and adults, through songs, dialogues, videos, and other artistic expressions, told the story of the FMA Institute, highlighting in a particular way the foundation of Mexico and the Salesian presence of the FMA of Mother of the Church Province.
The celebration ended with the Hymn of the 150th, followed by applause, group photos, meetings and the bestowal of a souvenir to all present.
On 6 August, feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, in the same parish which houses the remains of many FMA of the MMO Province, the celebration of the Perpetual Profession of Sr. Josefina Portillo Vera was lived with intensity, accompanied by parents and relatives who in blessing her, definitively handed over to God and to the FMA Institute, in the person of Sr. Leonor Salazar. The Eucharist was presided over by Bishop Cleofás Murguía, who urged Sr. Josefina to give herself unconditionally for the good of the new generations, educating them in the style of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello.
Subsequently, at the Excelsior Institute of Monterrey, the feast continued with a fraternal agape, an expression of the joy and gratitude that will continue to accompany the FMA and the Educating Communities in this jubilee year 2022-2023, with the certainty that Mary walks in the Houses and in the realities where the FMA are present.