Vellore (India). On 3 September 2022, at the Auxilium Campus of Katpadi, Vellore, in the Province of St. Thomas the Apostle of Chennai, took place the solemn celebration of the centenary of the presence of the FMA in India, long awaited by the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the seven Indian Provinces, who with the Educating Communities, prepared for the event with various initiatives.
The immense spaces of the Campus welcomed the Superior General of the FMA Institute, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola; the Councilor for Youth Ministry, Sr. Runita Borja; the Councilor for the Missions, Sr. Ruth del Pilar Mora on a visit to India since 27 August 2022 and who arrived in Chennai on 31 August; the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime; the Provincials of the seven Indian Provinces; FMA and representatives of the Salesian Family; the Sisters awarded for Life Time Achievement, the recognition for a life well lived.
At the entrance to the Auditorium, Mother and the guests were greeted by teachers dressed as Don Bosco, Mother Mazzarello, Fr. Philip Rinaldi, and Mamma Margherita, and with roses. Subsequently, a brief presentation of the mission of the various members of the Salesian Family took place in different and creative ways by the Indian Provinces: ADMA (INC Province), Salesian Cooperators (INK), VIDES (INM), Educating Communities (INM), Past Pupils of the FMA (ING).
At 11:00 began the Eucharistic Celebration of gratitude for the Centenary, presided over by the Rector Major and concelebrated by the SDB Provincials of Chennai, Trichy, and Hyderabad; by Msgr. I. John Robert, Diocesan Administrator of Vellore; and by over 50 diocesan and religious priests. The auditorium was packed with around 1000 people in attendance.
An introduction explained the meaning of the day and opened a rhythmic dance, with the procession of flags carried by the Mother General and the Councilors, the Provincials, and representatives of the Salesian Family Groups. In addition, 100 lamps were introduced, like the 100 years of presence, accompanied by the welcoming gesture of the kumba arathi.
In his homily, the Rector Major expressed his joy of being able to thank God together with all the FMA, especially from India, and recommended fidelity to the Charism, in particular towards the poorest young women, because the second Centenary will be due to the fidelity of those who are present today. He then encouraged the young people present to always be happy. The extraordinary presence of both Congregations gathered around the successors of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello made the celebration even more solemn.
The Grand Finale of the Celebrations for the Centenary of the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco in India, with the cultural program, began at 4.30 pm, in the rooms of the Auxilium College of Vellore, with a moment of prayer followed by a dance of welcome.
Mother Chiara Cazzuola was the main guest, while guests of honor were the Rector Major of the Salesians; Sr. Celine Jacob, Visiting General Councilor; Sr. Runita Borja, Sister Ruth del Pilar Mora, Fr. Jr. Biju Michael, SDB, Regional Superior General for South Asia; Fr. John Robert, Diocesan Administrator of Vellore; the FMA Provincials and the SDB Provincials of India. Sr. Nirmala Lazar, INM Provincial and President of the PCI Interprovincial Conference, welcomed the public and introduced the present and past Provincials of the seven Provinces of India.
Three publications entitled, “Presence of the FMA in India 2020”, “The tender touch of the Mother – Marian miracles”, and “Success stories and milestones of social pastoral care” were officially presented in the presence of Mother Chiara Cazzuola and the guests.
During the event, in the spirit of the Salesian Family and on the occasion of the Centenary, there were bestowals of scholarships to students in need, Career Awards, acknowledgments to some FMA for their commitment to the mission, and to students for school commitment. Ms. Clotti and Sr. Dolores Munisamy, FMA, among the first girls raised by the pioneers, also received recognition from Mother.
Mother Chiara Cazzuola’s message was characterized by profound gratitude for the pioneer FMA missionaries and for the centrality of the Salesian educational mission at the service of poor girls, women, and children of the works in India. She also stressed that the Centenary Celebration is a reminder to each one of the responsibility to preserve and bear fruit for the Charism; each one is personally responsible for its vitality.
The Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, for his part expressed his appreciation for the work of those who brought the Provinces to a high level and shared a fraternal moment with the audience singing and playing two Spanish songs. Fr. Biju Michael and Bishop John Robert thanked the Rector Major, Mother General and her Council, together with the FMA, for their dedication to the poor and needy of the Diocese of Vellore.
The cultural celebration continued with a presentation of the Centennial theme through an interpretation of the Centennial hymn, a mime, and an engaging performance of dance forms ranging from folk, to classical, to modern, to fusion, to ballet. The event ended with mutual thanks for having lived a memorable day, achieved thanks to the teamwork of the 7 Indian Provinces and followed in live streaming by the FMA of the Communities of India and by those around the world.
Photo: Flickr FMA