Shillong (India). On 10 September 2023, at the Auxilium Provincial House of Shillong, India, in Immaculate Heart of Mary Province (INS),  in the presence of the Superior General of the Institute, Mother Chiara Cazzuola; of the Councilor for Formation, Sister Nilza Fátima de Moraes; of the Councilor for Youth Ministry, Sister Runita Borja; and of the Visiting Councilor, Sister Celine Jacob, the closing ceremony of the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first FMA missionaries in India (1922-2022) took place.

Mother had officially inaugurated the opening of the celebrations of the Centenary on 3 September 2022 at the Auxilium Campus of Katpadi, Vellore, in the Province of St. Thomas the Apostle of Chennai (INM), and then concluded them in Shillong, when the FMA of northern India commemorated the 100 years since the arrival of the pioneers in 1923.

The Celebration of the Eucharist was presided over by Msgr. Victor Lyngdoh, Archbishop of Shillong and concelebrated by Bishop Lumen Monteiro of the Diocese of Tripura; by Msgr. Jose Chirackal, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Tura; and by 30 concelebrants.

At the beginning of the Mass, Mother Chiara brought to the altar the photos of the six pioneers placed in a boat with the Centenary flag, while Sister Elizabeth George, INS Provincial, brought a lit lamp, symbol of the Sisters’ willingness to carry forward the light of Charism for future generations.

In the homily, the Archbishop thanked God for the 100 years of presence of the FMA and described the six Pioneers as women of faith, prayer, action; women who lived their lives bringing others to know the face and love of the Lord Jesus. He also thanked all the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians for having touched and transformed countless lives in their mission among young people. He then urged the Sisters to remember that the celebration of the Centenary is a call to continue to bear witness to the love and compassion of God and to ensure the continuity and fruitfulness of the mission.

In the afternoon, the celebrations continued with the cultural program, whose main guests were Mother Chiara Cazzuola; Mrs. Mazel Ampareen Lyndoh, Cabinet Minister of the State of Meghalaya; the three General Councilors from Rome; the seven Provincials from India; and two of the CIAO Interprovincial Conference of Asia,  the President of the Conference, Sister Alma Castagna and the Provincial of the CMY Province, Sister Gertrudes Ditching;  as well as government officials, civil authorities, FMA, guests, Salesian Cooperators, Past pupils, and over 700 young people.

A Tribute of Love is the title of the brief show which retraced with various performances on stage and symbols, the journey and history of the six pioneers of north-eastern India, highlighting their mission, sacrifices, joy, and faith.

A significant moment was also the launch of the publications on the history of southern and northern India, of the digital archive of the Province, of the Province Guidelines for Education, of a collection of success stories of over 100 Past Pupils entitled From Foundations to Heights, followed by the thanks of the Centenary Commissions.

In her Message, Mother Chiara Cazzuola expressed the joy of participating in the celebrations and paid homage to the pioneers who “spent their lives in giving themselves to the total service of education, taking care of everyone, especially the poorest and most alone, so that everyone could make the most of their resources and place themselves in the world with dignity. They worked with daring and courage, with the certainty that education is always an act of hope, which looks to the future from the present. The rapid growth of the works testifies today more than ever to the strength and effectiveness of their intelligent and maternal presence”.

Mother then thanked the affectionate welcome and concluded with the wish, “With Don Bosco, we too are aware that Mary, Mother and Help, guides us. To her I entrust your Province, your great Country, your life so that you can move forward, continuing to believe with trust and hope in the beauty and value of education and young people.”

The more than 700 young people attending were representatives of the seven Indian Provinces, who had arrived the previous day, 9 September 2023, to participate in the al National Youth Meet, the national meeting of young people held at the Auxilium Girls’ Secondary School in Nongthymmai. Illustrious guests of the days were Mother Chiara, Isawanda Laloo, Director of Sports and Youth Policies of the Government of Meghalaya; and Rosetta Mary Kurbah, Deputy Commissioner of East Khasi Hills, of the District of Meghalaya.

On this occasion, Mother spoke to the young people, recalling the theme of World Youth Day 2023 and inviting them to be like Mary, who “gets up and goes quickly. Mary sets out because love knows no slowness or delay; it doesn’t hold back; it doesn’t remain indifferent.” She then wished them “to live this experience intensely in order to be, here and in our daily lives, courageous multipliers of good, peace, serenity, and hope.”

Isawanda Laloo praised the commitment of the Salesian Sisters, particularly in the social and educational fields. She then renewed her commitment to favor equal roles and opportunities for girls and women, networking with organizations that share the same principles. Mrs. Kurbah, Deputy Commissioner, also expressed appreciation for the educational activities of the FMA.

The audience was thrilled by the welcome song of the students of St. Mary Mazzarello, Jowai; the engaging choreographies of the young people from the Mizoram region; and the interpretation of the event’s anthem. Holy Mass was presided over by Fr. Paul Olphindro Lyngkot, Salesian Provincial of the Shillong Province, and celebrated by 21 other priests. The Mawlai Evangelist Choir accompanied the liturgy. During the entrance procession, three flags were brought to the altar: that of the Institute, that of the Centenary, and that of the Salesian Youth Movement.

In his homily, Fr. Paul underlined the presence of Mary in North-East India, even before the Salesians. He invited everyone to take Her as a role model and guide in every endeavor of life. In the midst of various challenges, he encouraged young people to turn to Her through prayer, especially the Rosary. He urged them to be generous in their service and to imitate Her purity and chastity.

The young people were then engaged in round tables, role-playing games, and personalization of the qualities of the Good Shepherd. They also paid homage to the FMA pioneers with a presentation of the seven Provinces through a colorful cultural representation.

e attraverso una coloratissima rappresentazione culturale.

Foto: Flickr FMA



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.