India. On 24 November 2021, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the PCI Interprovincial Conference had an online meeting for the launch of the 3rd year in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first FMA missionaries in India (1922-2022).
The centenary theme is: “With Mary through the century and beyond”. The slogan for 2021-2022: “Design the future with courage: ‘Courage! Let us go forward with a big and generous heart’ (L 47,12). Prophets and witnesses for a society transformed in the style of synodality”. The specific objective: “Accompanying young people towards an integral formation by making them agents of social change.”
The online meeting, which had as its golden thread the journey in synodality, began with a moment of prayer and a video clip that showed the creativity, on the part of numerous communities of the 7 Indian Provinces, in the realization of the moment of the raising of the flag with the Centennial flag.
Walking together today is the round table that was held afterwards, with testimonies of the experience of Salesian life from the point of view of a teacher, a parent, a formator, and a student. The teacher highlighted the human and spiritual values that are breathed in the FMA Schools where she teaches – the Auxilium Convent High School and the Junior College of Baroda, Province of St. Maria Mazzarello (INB) – and how the dedication of the leadership and staff have a significant role in the integral education of children and young people.
A mother, who works in the Covid ward of a hospital, bore her testimony of service alongside the sick, many of whom have passed away, including her brother, and thanked the sisters for caring for her three children. Sr. Nirmala Mummadi, FMA of Sacred Heart of Jesus Province (INK) and Formator, spoke about collaboration with families and the relationship between teachers and students and in the Educating Community, underlining: “For us walking together is a challenge”.
A young English student in the third year of Auxilium College in Katpadi, Province of St. Thomas the Apostle (INM), said she was proud to be part of a 100-year history and expressed her gratitude to the FMA for the possibility, together with other young people, to be able to realize God’s dream for each one, walking together to contribute to a better world. The moderator, Sr. Teresa Joseph, FMA of the INB Province, asked each witness a question to deepen the theme and offer concrete indications. To the question: “What more can the FMA do for the young?” The student replied: “Teach us to love ourselves”.
After the round table, it was time for the official launch of the 3rd year in preparation for the Centenary. Sr. Nirmala Lazar, Provincial of the INM Province, newly elected President of the PCI at the 24th General Chapter and President of the Centenary Committee of the FMA, said with gratitude: “Today is a day of joy and celebration: the FMA of India enter the 3rd year in preparation for the Centenary.” She recalled the signs of Providence that brought the first six missionaries to India, who arrived in Tanjore on 24 November 1922, led by the pioneer Sr. Teresa Balestra.
With reference to the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the FMA Institute, she recalled, “The third year of preparation invites us to walk together with our Institute guided by the theme: Planning the future with courage: ‘Courage! Let us go forward with a big and generous heart’ (L 47, 12) in the style of synodality. Walking in the footsteps of Saint Mary Domenica Mazzarello and of our valiant missionaries who crossed the ocean to reach the poor and the marginalized without having any human security, we are called to be prophets of hope”.
A significant moment was also the presentation of the book entitled: “Come, Let us Journey Together into Our Common Home” written by Sr. Alice Chacko, FMA, Lecturer at Auxilium College of Katpadi, INM Province. The publication deals with topics related to creation and integral ecology, which are intertwined with aspects of Salesian spirituality: the family spirit, the pedagogy of encounter, the little word in the ear, and loving presence. Sr. Meenakshi D’Silva, Provincial of the INB Province and Vice-President of the PCI Inter-Provincial Conference of India presented the book.
The online meeting ended with listening to the Centennial Hymn in a spirit of gratitude and joy.