San Paolo (Brazil). On 5 August 2022, FMA resident in the State of São Paulo, members of the educating communities, students, Past Pupils, and representatives of the Salesian Family of Our Lady Aparecida Province (BAP) of São Paulo celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Foundation of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida.

The Eucharistic Celebration was presided over by Fr. Hilário Moser, SDB, Bishop Emeritus of Tubarão (SC), and concelebrated by Bishop Fernando Legal, SDB, Bishop Emeritus of São Miguel Paulista (SP), and by Fr. Justo Ernesto Piccinini, Provincial of Mary Help of Christians Province of Saint Paul (BSP).

The choice of the National Shrine of Aparecida, one of the largest shrines in Latin America and a center for the promotion of Marian spirituality, was motivated by the choice of the Virgin Aparecida as patroness of the Province, which is located in the region where, on 16 March 1892, the first missionaries arrived to give life to the ‘spirit of Mornese’ in Brazilian land. The Jubilee of the foundation of the Institute was, therefore, an occasion to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the presence of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Brazil.

Some moments profoundly marked the celebration of 5 August 2022. The entrance procession had as its protagonist the statuette of the Virgin Aparecida, placed on the central altar between the paintings of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello. The Provincial, Sr. Alaide Deretti, the Provincial Councilors present, and other FMA representing the Province also participated in the entrance procession.

In his homily, Bishop Hilário said that celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Institute means remembering the “history of the salvation of young people.” The Institute had very humble origins, but “thanks to the missionary spirit … today it is a leafy tree that extends its branches all over the world … Finally, it is this whole ‘history of salvation’ that gathers today in the House of Mother Aparecida to place our grateful hearts on the altar of the Eucharist”.

The Bishop Emeritus also underlined the presence of Mary in the life of Don Bosco and of the Institute, recalling that it was not enough for the Holy Founder to build the Basilica of Turin, he also wanted to offer Mary Help of Christians a living monument. “You glory in being Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, you are not only Daughters, you are also Sisters, you are also Mothers; therefore, in everything you must resemble Mary”.

Referring to the wedding in Cana, Fr. Hilário invited the FMA “to have a maternal heart and eyes to be attentive to the needs of young people, showing compassion for the neediest and mercy for those who make mistakes, supporting those who fall and the many miseries of our world”.

He also referred to the XXIV General Chapter, underlining the title of the chapter document: With Mary, being a ‘presence’ that generates life. He said, “Thousands of are orphans, they need a mother! Be their mothers; this is your mission.”

The homily ended with a wish, “Mary will certainly continue to ‘walk in your houses’, exhorting you to ‘do whatever He tells you'”.

After the homily, the FMA renewed their religious profession before the assembly present in the Shrine.

At the end of the Eucharist, Sr. Alaide Deretti addressed a greeting, underlining that “celebrating 150 years of history means looking to the past and making life fruitful with gratitude! It means looking at the today of our times, embracing the present and trusting in the horizon! It means looking ahead, welcoming the new and spreading hope! It is looking up and listening to the first and ever new, ‘I entrust them to you’ of Our Lady and under her mantle of Aparecida and Help of Christians, to restore to her the life and essence of youth”.

As per tradition in the Sanctuary, the Consecration to Our Lady Aparecida was recited during the Eucharistic Celebration. The Provincial raised the statue of Our Lady to make it more visible and all those present recited the consecration. For the FMA, it was a propitious moment to consecrate to Our Lady, in addition to the BAP Province, also the life and mission of the whole Institute, of Mother Chiara Cazzuola, and of the General Council.

The celebration of the 150th anniversary in the Shrine of Aparecida was broadcast live on Aparecida TV and various social networks, so that all the FMA could participate in the event.

After Holy Mass, the FMA reached the Guaratinguetá House, where they shared a moment of fraternity and commemorated the 130th anniversary of the arrival of the first FMA in the Colegio do Carmo, the first house in Brazil.


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