Luanda (Angola). On 22 October 2023, on World Mission Day, Queen of Peace Preprovince (ANG) celebrated the 40th anniversary of the presence of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Angola, with the motto: “With Mary, 40 years generating life in Angola”.
The Eucharistic Celebration was presided over by the Archbishop of Luanda, Monsignor Filomeno de Nascimento Vieira Dias, in the Salesian parish São José de Nazaré, where the FMA carried out their first pastoral mission. Present were Authorities from the municipal government of Calulo, Kwanza Sul, Salesians of Don Bosco, members of the Salesian Family, and Sisters from other religious congregations.
The presence of the FMA in Angola is the result of Project Africa started by the FMA Institute in 1982. The first Sisters coming from four Provinces of Brazil were Sister Theotonia Thiesen, Sister Anna Bello Soares, Sister Juraci Maria da Silva, and Sister Maria das Graças de Souza who left Rome on 23 October 1983, World Mission Day, after having participated in the Holy Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. They were sent by Mother Rosetta Marchese and Sister Carmen Martin Moreno, General Councilor for the Missions.
On 24 October 1983, at the request of Archbishop Fr. André Muaca, the FMA arrived in Luanda, in the Parish of San Paolo, welcomed by the Salesians and hosted by the Community of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny, in San Paolo. The first Community (Mary Help of Christians-Luanda) belonged to the then Saint Catherine of Siena Province of Sao Paulo – Brazil, led by Sister Rosalba Perotti, who remained in Angola in the first months to learn about the situation and to accompany the first steps. After a few years, the Angolan communities passed to the St. John Bosco Province of Mozambique, whose Provincial was Sister Giuseppina Pescarini, an Italian missionary.
“A sequence of missionary expeditions from the five continents followed. As the good seed fell on good soil and bore good fruit, a considerable number of local Sisters are also part of this mosaic, giving color to the project of Christian education begun by St. John Bosco and St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello,” explains Sister Natália Miguel, Superior of the Preprovince, in her Message for the Special Magazine of the 40th Anniversary.
“We are in fact grateful for the large number of lay people, young people, adolescents, and children with whom we share Salesian spirituality in the educational mission. We can say that we are really a networked Salesian Family and we want to be a Family that goes into the world.
Looking at current history at a global and national level, we have no doubts about the need and urgency of putting our Charism into practice in the Church and in society. We believe that we are still too few; we must ‘be more to do good to many’, as Saint John Bosco said. We must continue to write the history of the Church and of the Salesian Charism in Angola, so that more and more young people may ‘have life and have it in abundance’ (Jn 10:10). Be more to take care of and live the spirituality of integral ecological, of missionary synodality, and the culture of encounter! We must expand to continue helping more young people in vulnerable situations give meaning to their lives. And in this present that is elusive, complex, uncertain, and ambiguous let us form ourselves, update ourselves to competently educate and evangelize the new generations.”
Sr. Natália concludes with these encouraging words:
“’Courage, let us move forward with a big and generous heart’ (Letter of Mother Mazzarello, 47), to embrace the future with hope and draw new dreams for the new generations. We place ourselves under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Help of Christians, the Shepherdess of Don Bosco’s Dreams”.