Canaguaro (Colombia). On 11 November 2023, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the Province of Our Lady of the Snows of Bogota (CBN) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Saint Mary Mazzarello Educational Institute in Canaguaro – Meta, and the Province Feast of Gratitude around the Provincial, Sister Cecilia Camacho.
It was an event of grace in which, united in the Magnificat of Mary, the FMA gave thanks to God for the wonders He worked in this beautiful mission land through the education of many generations of children and young farmers, who received the seed of the Salesian Charism and made it bear fruit over the course of five decades.
The celebrations opened on 10 November with Solemn Vespers that began with the procession at the feet of Mary Help of Christians, Queen and Lady of Ariari. Through the prayer of the Holy Rosary, the Community expressed gratitude to the Virgin for her maternal presence and help during these 50 years. The ceremony then included a march in honor of the Virgin and an evocative cultural program full of liveliness, color, and folklore, which filled those present with joy.
On 11 November, the celebration continued with the prayer of Lauds and the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Monsignor José Figueroa Gómez, Bishop of the Diocese of Granada in Colombia, concelebrated by the priests of the Diocese and the Salesians of Don Bosco.
In the homily, Msgr. José underlined the mission of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians among the girls of the rural context of this region. He then shared three feelings linked to this celebration: the joy of celebrating 50 years of proclaiming the Gospel; gratitude to God who enlightened the Sisters in undertaking this work in favor of the neediest communities, “because it is an Institution that is owed to the poorest and the poor have always been Jesus’ favorites”. He then made supplication to the Lord so that the Sisters may continue to project themselves to continue to reach many children, young people, and families, because this is a work of evangelization that requires the grace of God.
At the end of the Eucharist, Msgr. José turned to the Sisters, acknowledging their contribution to his episcopal mission, because they were “mothers, sisters, and friends” for him. He gave Sister Cecilia Camacho the recognition “Blessed are those who work for peace” on behalf of the Diocese of Granada in Colombia.
This was followed by the show entitled “Mornese came to life”, a representation of the birth of the Salesian Charism from the humble and simple home of Mother Mazzarello, up to the expansion of the FMA Institute with their arrival in America and finally in the region of the Colombian Ariari in Canaguaro, Meta. This moment concluded with the recognition of the Sisters who carried out their mission as directors of the Institution.
The event was enriched by the presence of the Departmental Secretary of Education, Wilson Fernando Salgado Cifuentes, who presented Saint Mary Mazzarello Educational Institution, in the person of Sister Cecilia Camacho and Sister Verónica Ospitía, with the “El Centauro” decoration in the gold category, in recognition of their tireless work for children and young people in the countryside.
The afternoon ended with a time of fraternal recreation, where Sister Cecilia Camacho gave an emotional toast of gratitude for the life that has flourished in this work. The day ended with Evening Prayer and the words of Sister Cecilia, who shared the experience of the Spiritual Exercises in Montevideo, Uruguay, with the Provincials of America and brought the greetings of Mother Chiara Cazzuola, recalling the importance of fraternity, hospitality, and simplicity.
These celebrations are an expression of gratitude to the Lord, to contemplate the wonders that He works on behalf of the poor and defenseless and to feel encouraged to continue to proclaim the Gospel in the style of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello, contributing with joy and creativity to the construction of a Kingdom of peace, justice, love, and freedom.