Benguela (Angola). On 15 and 16 June 2024, the Educating Community Bl. Laura Vicuña, of Queen of Peace Preprovince (ANG) celebrated the 25th anniversary of the presence of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Benguela, in the district of Calombutão. Last year, on 22 October 2023, in Luanda, the ANG Province celebrated the 40th of FMA presence in Angola.

The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians arrived in the city of Benguela on 2 March 1999, at the request of Msgr. Oscar Braga, then Bishop of Benguela. The first group consisted of four sisters: Sister Giovanna Conchi, Italian missionary; Sister Maria Pedro, Mozambican; Sister Stella Chong, Korean; Sister Ana Maria dos Santos, Angolan.

The FMA initially dealt with the Literacy School and the Youth Center, with various formal and informal activities, then the Elementary School. Currently, the Community of Bl. Laura Vicuña is a formation house, center for catechesis, Youth Center Oratory, Kindergarten, Higher Technical Institute for hospitality and tourism.

The highlight of the celebrations was the Holy Mass, on June 15, presided over by Msgr. Estêvão Binga, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Benguela, who in his homily told the story of the patron of the Center, Blessed Laura Vicuña, and spoke of the importance of the presence of the sisters in Benguela.

The Eucharist, in which all participated from the early childhood to the 12th grade, as well as past pupils, parents, collaborators, educators, and people in the neighborhood, was animated by the children of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.

A festive afternoon followed in which each class performed dances, choreographies, and theatrical performances. At the end of the recreational moment, the Sisters offered all the students a snack with folar, a typical local dessert, and fruit juice.

The following day, 16 June, the Sunday Eucharistic Celebration was held in memory of the 25 years of FMA presence, celebrated by the parish priest, Fr. Luigi De Liberali, Salesian of Don Bosco of the Mamá Muxima Province (ANG) and animated by the Association of Mary Help of Christians (ADMA). During the homily, the celebrant joined the seed sown in the Gospel of Mark (Mk 4:26-34) with the seed sown 25 years ago in Benguela, which has sprouted and is bearing much fruit.

At the end of the Mass, the various guests were presented: the seven FMA that make up the Laura Vicuña Community, the postulants, and the aspirants. Taking the floor, Sister Eurídice Filipe Nsamba, Animator of the Community, thanked God first and then the people present, for having welcomed the Sisters since their arrival and for their familiarity.

The FMA organized a lunch for the 25th anniversary, inviting members of the Salesian Family and some representatives of the community of the neighborhood, of the various groups and movements, and some diocesan priests. Dances and choreographies animated the afternoon, as expressions of gratitude for the gift of vocations and for the fruitfulness of the mission.

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