Johannesburg (South Africa). On 30 September and 1 October 2023, at the Provincial House of Saint Mary Mazzarello in Boksburg, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of South Africa and Lesotho of Our Lady of Peace Province (AFM) celebrated the Assembly and Gratitude Day on theme, “Together as grateful stewards of God’s creation”. The Assembly in Zambia took place on 1 and 2 September.

The day began with morning prayer and the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Fr. Jeff Jawaheer, OFM. The Provincial, Sister Cecilia Motanya, then opened the Assembly with greetings from Mother Chiara Cazzuola and her General Councilors, met at Frascati, Rome, at the Seminar CIAM, she invited them to be grateful administrators of the gifts of creation for the building of the Province and the Region.

This was followed by the 1st Session on the theme, “The impact of the Synod on religious life and the contribution of religious life to the Synod,” conducted by Sister Annet Kaluka, Provincial Councilor. The 2nd session, on “Financial Management,” was led by Sister Thao Phi, Provincial Treasurer of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary (FMM) and Secretary of the Leadership Conference of Consecrated Life in South Africa.

In the afternoon, Sister Isabel Vieira, head of the Development Office, shared chapter 5 and chapter 7 of the Guidelines for the management of assets in the FMA Institute. For the participants in the Assembly, it was a useful contribution to understand and help each other plan and manage the economic resources to support the Communities, projects, and the Province. The reports were interspersed with group sharing.

Sister Cecilia Motanya closed the Assembly by reminding us to strengthen and relaunch the Oratory and Catechesis in our own realities. She also urged us “to take care of the Past Pupils and to continue building the missions for which our Sisters laid the foundations. We have the responsibility. I am very grateful for the strong sense of belonging.”

On 1 October, the Feast of Gratitude was celebrated, thanking the Provincial, her Councilors, and all the FMA. The 50th anniversary of the profession of Sister Patricia Finn and Sister Helen Hartnett was also celebrated. Fr. Clement Mweni, OP, celebrated Holy Mass with a homily on gratitude and asked us to treasure what we have, as a Province, as an FMA, and in the mission.

In the afternoon, some Salesian Cooperators from Ennerdale joined the FMA to celebrate. Sister Patricia Finn shared the story of her visit to the Holy Land. This was followed by the presentation of the mission by each FMA Community and the Salesian Cooperators. Sister Giovanna Pesenti, Provincial Treasurer and delegate of the Salesian Cooperators, spoke about the Africa-Madagascar elective Congress of the Salesian Cooperators, which she participated in from 28 to 30 September at the Kasisi Retreat Center in Lusaka, Zambia.

The day concluded by gratefully offering gifts to Sister Cecilia Motanya, for her guidance and loving care, and to the honorees for their fidelity to the Lord, to the Institute, and to the Province, and for their service to the Church. The Provincial gave each FMA and Salesian Cooperator a key ring and a medal of Mary Help of Christians from Mother Chiara Cazzuola.


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