Maputo (Mozambique). From 8 to 10 September 2023, at the House of Infulene, a neighborhood of Maputo in Mozambique, of St. John Bosco Province (MOZ), the 2nd FMA Past Pupils Congress was held, with the presence of Sister Leslie Sandigo, General Councilor of the Salesian Family, and Maria Carmen Castillon, President of the World Confederation of Mornese FMA Past Pupils, welcomed at the “Mavalane” international airport on 7 September.

On 8 September, the feast of the Nativity of Mary, there was the official opening of the Congress with the theme, “Stand up and be in solidarity with and like Mary”. Representatives from Kenya, Angola, Ethiopia, Sudan participated in the event from North, South Sudan and Mozambique, for a total of around 300 people.

The performance of the Past Pupils band was followed by the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Monsignor Ernesto Maguengue, Bishop of Inhambane; concelebrated by Monsignor Germano Grachane, Bishop emeritus of Nacala; and Fr. Filimão Chauque, of the diocesan clergy of Maputo. In his homily, the Bishop underlined that the Salesian Past Pupils carry out good works, thanks to the Spirit, and in this dynamic, everyone is invited to follow the teaching “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” The Prelate emphasized that today’s society, in fact, needs to make people grow not only from a physical point of view, but also in tenderness and affection, and Don Bosco was a person with the heart of a mother and a father, underlined the prelate.

After the Celebration, various religious and civil personalities spoke: Mrs. Ana de Lourdes Cala, Councilor for Africa – Madagascar, welcomed the participants and gave the word to Sister Ivone Grachane, delegate of the Past Pupils. The World President, Maria Carmen Castilion, wished that everyone may live the Congress as a unique experience, in a perspective of mutual learning.

The World Councilor of the Salesian Family, Sister Leslie Sandigo, after thanking the authorities and the Past Pupils for their presence, recalled the important ability to make a vital synthesis of what is heard and to welcome the verb “get up” with great availability, experiencing solidarity across the board, with family, neighbors, and other brothers and sisters.

Dr. Josina Macie then spoke, representing the Minister of Justice and Religious Affairs, who underlined the role of the Church, in particular of the Salesian Past Pupils, in accompanying young people and contributing in various sectors, including that of health. Ana de Lurdes Calo, introduced the theme in continuity with the previous Congress. Sister Carolina Ilda Hermínio, Provincial of Mozambique, evoked the Mornese spirit as a driving force to be yeast, to instill strength and courage in others. Before the presentation of the themes, the participants were also able to visit a crafts exhibit.

Dr. Virginia Muianga, of the Secretariat of State, in her presentation focused on the role of Christian women in society, in protecting from violence and in curbing it.

In the afternoon, Bishop Ernesto Maguengue addressed the topic, “The role of the Church in consolidating the education of children, adolescents, and young people today: how to develop skills to motivate and educate in Christian life”, starting with some questions which arose regarding education in Mozambican society. He therefore expressed the conviction that education for peace and education for “biophilia”, the love of life, are the basis of a solid education.

Another topic addressed by Dr. Celsa Chemane is the silent suffering of women, which gave rise to a debate on how to stop violence in the family, especially towards women.

On 9 September, after the Eucharistic Celebration, work continued on the theme “The incessant search for the transcendent and the loss of moral values in society. What conception of justice in the face of the proliferation of churches?” facilitated by Dr. Arlinda, who highlighted that the distortion of human and Christian principles in favor of a peaceful coexistence between citizens, can also contribute to the proliferation of sects. Therefore, she highlighted the need, also on the part of the State, to safeguard religious activities and information through the means of communication.

The Councilor for Africa then highlighted the importance of mapping the Federations to join the World Confederation. The Federations then shared their reports.

Sister Leslie instead spoke about March 19, the date on which Past Pupils’ Day is celebrated, born in 1908, on the Feast of St. Joseph, and of global importance for the Confederation. It was recalled that in 1992, the reality of the FMA Past Pupils was established for the first time in Maputo in the form of a delegation, making the capital the first center.

This was followed by group work out of which interesting elements emerged in the plenary session in response to the question, “Today as Past Pupils, what should we focus on? What are the challenges that must keep us awake?” Here are some of the points emphasized:

– respect; life witness; commitment at work and in church according to the commandments; recovery of moral values that seem to disappear from the map of life; tireless search for transcendence.

– do good to others; revitalize the unions and develop concrete projects.

– help the young people to leave the drug world.

Then there was the significant gesture of the presentation of the symbols of belonging to the Salesian Family to the Federation Presidents by the Councilor for Africa, Ana de Lourdes, accompanied by a thank you dance.

On the last day, Sunday 10 September, after the festive Eucharistic Celebration in the parish of Saint Francis of Assisi in Infulene, the Federations gathered to examine local commitments and draw up a program of activities that they intend to carry out.

From the final assessment of the Congress, experienced in an atmosphere of fraternity and joy, some useful aspects emerged for the growth of the Association at a local and international level. All participants expressed satisfaction with the topics covered, which were of great interest and relevance.


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