Milan (Italy). On 18 May 2022 in Milan, at the Basilica of S. Ambrose, the Educating Communities of  Holy Family Province (ILO) of Lombardy and Switzerland and the representatives of the Salesian Family met to give thanks to the Lord for the 150 years of the Foundation of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, with the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by the Archbishop of Milan, Msgr. Mario Delpini, and concelebrated by the Episcopal Vicars, the Provincial of the Lombard Emiliana Province of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Fr. Giuliano Giacomazzi, by SDB, Pastors, and diocesan priests with whom the FMA collaborate.

Present were the ILO Provincial, Sr. Stefania Saccuman, with the Provincial Councilors, Sr. Paola Battagliola, General Councilor of the FMA Institute, and numerous FMA from the Communities. Another noteworthy presence is that of Mrs. Carla Ramponi of Castano Primo (MI), miraculously healed when she was eight, on 24 November 1946, from a serious illness, after an FMA placed the relic of Mother Mazzarello on her. It is one of the miracles approved for the canonization of the Co-founder of the FMA Institute.

Sr. Graziella Curti, Provincial of the ILO Province from 2009-2014 and General Councilor for twelve years, recounts the experience:

“A clear day of sun and wind, a Lombardy sky that ‘is beautiful when it is beautiful’   met on this 18 May 2022 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians with the Salesian Family.

The meeting place is the ancient and artistic basilica of Saint Ambrose in Milan. The families, children, and young people, F.M.A and religious of other congregations, Salesian Confreres, Salesian Cooperators, Past Pupils, representatives of the Associations all arrive.  They are all friends and supporters. It is an intertwining of hugs and smiles, of looks that refer back to memories, to the exciting moments of a life in the wake of education. At 6.30 pm, the group of celebrants go towards the altar, followed by our Archbishop Mario Delpini. The choir of the students of Milan Bonvesin and of the young FMA, accompanied by violins, guitars, and organ, intones the hymn to the Church witness of hope.

After a brief but passionate introduction by the Provincial, Sister Stefania, the Eucharist begins. The liturgical texts invite gratitude for the good received in these 150 years of life of the Institute and invoke the Spirit of the Lord, with which the earth is full, so that He may give us His joy. The Gospel of the day (Jn 12:37) inspires our Bishop to give a homily that challenges us to the point of making us reflect deeply on the value of our educational work at this time when even the mission of the Church seems to fail. The question arises, are there good reasons to let it go? Why do the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians remain? Why does the mission of the Church continue in this time, in this land? But the criterion for which we have come up to this hour is that of love.

And the Archbishop strongly insists, “In a certain sense it can be said that we are here to celebrate a significant anniversary of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians to become aware that for this very reason you have reached this hour. That your vocation is fulfilled right here, right now.” And he added, “Don’t expect to be noticed.”  It is only necessary to live the humanism of charity, because “it will be thanks to the witnesses of the humanism of charity that there will be a future in which humanity survives”(homily).

This mandate makes us think, together with the whole assembly of the laity, who intuit the secret of religious life and look at us in a new way. Sister Paola Battagliola thanks the Archbishop, those present, and those who follow the celebration online in the name of Mother General. She is grateful for the good done in Lombardy and encourages:

“Celebrating an anniversary is not just remembering the past, but it is projecting ahead with new enthusiasm and a renewed choice of gratuitous love to live with joy and fidelity to the charism, our vocation, our belonging to the Institute, to the Salesian Family, and to the Church. In the footsteps of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello, we have a mission to continue with creativity and daring to build the future: education. Those who dedicate themselves to education build new people, new families, responsible and honest citizens and townspeople who will make a valuable contribution to society and the Church.”

Outside, on a clear evening that we would like to never end, one more surprise. In the beautiful courtyards of the Ursuline Sisters of St. Charles, who opened the doors of their home to us, the students of CIOFS-FP of Cinisello prepared an aperitif for us that was truly inviting and worthy of the 150th anniversary, to conclude the celebrations in fraternal joy.


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