Mexico. On the occasion of the 125 years of the presence in Mexico of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province in South Mexico organized an historical Congress on “The educational activity of the FMA in Mexico”.
The event was held on September 20-21, 2019 in the auditorium of Don Bosco Institute in Mexico City. About 160 people participated: FMA, SDB, Members of the Salesian Family, lay collaborators, religious of other Congregations, and Sr. Estela Ovalle of the Antilles Province of St. Joseph (ANT), because the Province had begun with the Mexican sisters who were forced to leave the Country due to the religious persecution.
The event was presided by Msgr. Luis Felipe Gallardo Martín del Campo, SDB, Msgr. Emeritus of the Diocese of Veracruz; Msgr. Salvador Cleofás Murguía Villalobos, SDB, Bishop of the Prelature Mixe, Oaxaca. Also present were authorities of the local Church: Bishop Eloy Díaz Mera, Apostolic Vicar for the pastoral area of the Mexican Archdiocese, and R.P. Miguel Ángel Molinero, Vicar for Consecrated Life of the Mexico Archdiocese.
The entire event was accompanied by Sr. Grazia Loparco, FMA, Vice President and regular teacher of Church History at the Pontifical Faculty of The Science of Education “Auxilium”.
On Friday there was the Conference of Dr. Valentina Torres Septién who presented the context of feminine Catholic education in Mexico at the beginning of the XX century. Following this, Dr. Camille Foulard presented the difficulties and the contributions of the religious Institutes dedicated to education in Mexico at the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century.
Saturday was dedicated to the history of the FMA with a presentation by Grazia Loparco in which she spoke of the educational responses that the FMA had given over the course of history in the face of various political and cultural contexts. Following this, Sr. María Guadalupe Chávez, Past student of the Auxilium, spoke of the educational activity carried out by the FMA in the first 25 years of their presence in Mexico, and Sr. Elvia Castillo Juárez, another Past student of the Auxilium, presented the challenges that the FMA had to face at the time of the religious persecutions in Mexico in order to continue to educate young Mexican women.
After the conference, there was an emotional time in which the father of a family from Enrique Benítez Institute, Puebla City, made a comparison between the political situation the FMA had lived during the persecution and the political situation that today threatens Mexico. “Today, difficult times have returned for instruction and those difficult for the FMA…I am tranquil that my daughter is in a Salesian school because I know she is well protected and I know that once again, the FMA will be the response to the ideological attack we have today. Difficult times are returning, but we are not unarmed because we have your community as religious and ourselves as parents. Together we will face these challenges”.
Then, Mr. Berenise Bravo, member of the Historical Commission for the Canonization Process of the Servant of God, Sr. Antonietta Böhm, highlighted the way in which Mother Antoinetta assimilated and put into practice the dispositions of the Perfectae Caritatis.
Sr. María Guadalupe Chavez through the use of statistics, presented the development of the FMA Institute in Mexico for 125 years (1894-2019).
In conclusion, Ms. María Alejandra Díaz Rosales, past pupil of St. Julia School, Mexico City, the first house in Mexico, testified to the education received from the sisters in her mission as a mother and a professional devoted to the formation of Teachers in different universities in the country. Mr. Juan Luis Hernández Avendaño, a political scientist, concluded by indicating what kind of education today’s Mexican society expects from the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
On September 19, 2019, in preparation for the Congress, Sr. Grazia Loparco stressed the importance of historical memory as a fundamental element of charismatic identity, emphasizing the evaluation and conservation of historical sources that we leave day after day in our work with young people. This meeting took place at Mexico City College, which was attended by 32 people, including formadees, Temporary Professed, and formators.
As post-congress, a study day was held with the Provincial Council, community animators, referents for the Chronicle of each community, and some sisters of Mother of the Church Province in northern Mexico. At this time, Sr. Grazia Loparco gave more precise indications on the preservation of documents that can serve as historical sources for future generations, in particular about the writing of the Chronicle of each house. This meeting took place at Mexico City College with about 70 participants.