Slovakia. On 27 December 2022, St. John Bosco Province (SLK) celebrated the centenary of the departure of the first two young Slovakian girls to enter the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.

On 27 December 1922, Jozefína Sobotová and Helena Ščepková left for Italy with the dream of being FMA. Twenty-two-year-old Jozefína, from Kátlovce, and almost eighteen-year-old Helena from Plavecký Peter, the two young women had grown up together in Chtelnica and were part of the Marian congregation.

Fr. Viliam Vagač, Slovak Salesian of Don Bosco, had asked the Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Caterina Daghero, to accept the young Slovaks, who then left for Turin accompanied by Fr. Ladislav Stano, Slovak SDB.

After the Novitiate in Nizza Monferrato, on 5 August 1925, they made their first profession. The two FMAs had different gifts and missions: Sr. Jozefína was very skilled in various types of housework and spent most of her religious life in the wardrobe and in the kitchen.

Sr. Helena had great organizational and artistic skills. Although she wanted to go as a missionary, her Superiors entrusted her with the accompaniment of Slovakian vocations. In addition to teaching in the Kindergarten, doing odd jobs, and working in the oratory, she dedicated herself to the Slovakian postulants. She taught them Italian, introduced them to their new life, and looked for benefactors among the Slovaks in America. Thus, she was able to organize several journeys of young Slovakian girls to Italy, where they entered the FMA Institute, contributing to the vocational fruitfulness of the FMA Institute in Slovakia.

After about 20 years in Italy, Sr. Jozefína returned to Slovakia in 1940 and Sr. Helena in 1944, both to the city of Trnava, at the age of 40. Between 1945 and 1950, Sr. Helena was the animator of the first house owned by the Slovakian FMA in Trnava – Kopánka, a small house in bad condition, where however, together with her sisters, she dedicated herself resourcefully to poor and neglected girls.

Those were difficult times, after the Second World War, with the growing power of the Communist Party. In this female oratory the sisters taught the girls, in addition to religion, also basic hygiene habits, housework, cooking, and polite behavior. They gave them food, clothing, school items, and prepared theatrical performances together with them.

For the young women, they organized conferences on marriage and family life, giving them the opportunity to dialogue. Despite being only three, with some changes every year, and without a regular income, they did a great deal of good.

In 1950, by decision of the communist government, the sisters were interned and often moved to different monasteries, where they lived mixed with various congregations. In 1968, Sr. Helena lived with two other sisters in a small private house in the city of Šoporňa, where they taught religion and dedicated themselves to girls, but after a few years, she was again interned in a monastery.

She recounted to the Sisters the memories of her times in Nizza Monferrato, of Mother Caterina Daghero, of Sr. Petronilla Mazzarello, of Sr. Eulalia Bosco, great-grandniece of Don Bosco, and other personalities of the beginning of the Institute, whom she had known personally. Sr. Helena died on 18 November 1980, at the age of 76, after a serious illness, and Sr. Jozefína on 2 June 1984, at the age of 84, both in Sládečkovce, in the concentration monastery.

Even if they did not experience freedom from communism, the SLK Province is grateful to these two sisters for their precious contribution, because thanks to their example, today the Slovak FMA can accompany many young people on the paths of true freedom.


  1. Muy interesante. Estás noticias nos invitan a agradecer al Señor por su presencia en nuestro Instituto y a amarlo más.

  2. Grazie per questo articolo: è molto bello ricordare non solo la data dell’arrivo della FMA in un paese, ma anche quella della partenza delle prime giovani di quel paese verso l’Italia. Sono due movimenti di un inizio, ugualmente importanti e degni d’essere meditati insieme. Interessante è il motivo della loro decisione e l’accompagnamento dei Salesiani, in questo caso. La Provvidenza ci svela i suoi progetti e ci aiuta, a distanza del tempo, accorgerci delle Sue delicatezze


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