Rome (Italy). The General Chapter is a strong time for sharing the identity and charismatic mission of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. What is celebrated in 2021 is the 24th General Chapter in the history of the FMA Institute and the Mother General is the 9th Successor of Mother Mazzarello.
The participants in the Chapter are witnesses to the charismatic journey of the 11,535 FMA who, in the style of Don Bosco’s Preventive System, are committed to the educational, communicative, and evangelizing mission throughout the world.
As of 31 December 2020, the FMA are present in 97 nations distributed as follows in the continents: in the 26 nations of Africa there are 628; in the 23 nations of America there are 3,366; in the 22 nations of Asia there are 2,886; in the 22 nations of Europe there are 4,597; in the 4 Nations of Oceania there are 58.
The FMA in the world express the vitality and expansion of the Salesian charism.
The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians is a Religious Family born from the heart of St. John Bosco and the creative fidelity of St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello.
The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, consecrated to God to serve Jesus Christ in community, dedicate their lives to the human, Christian, and Salesian Education of young people. Don Bosco chose for them Mary, the Help of Christians, who knew how to embody and live the pedagogy of taking care, which makes their educational passion for young people concrete and makes them women generative of life in the heart of Contemporaneity.
5 August 1872, Mother Mazzarello and the first group of eleven young women pronounce their “Yes”, like Mary, to be helpers with and among the young people.
In 1877 the FMA reach Uruguay and then Argentina. Since then, the Institute spread more and more in Italy, Europe, and America.
In 1879 the Mother House is transferred to Nizza Monferrato (Asti) where the Institute opens the first Normal School for the formation of teachers and experiences a strong missionary enthusiasm and a promising increase in vocations.
Since 1891 the FMA are present in Asia, from 1893 in Africa, and from 1954 in Australia.
The mission takes place in a plurality of educational environments open to being multicultural and inter-religious with particular attention to children, girls, and women.
The FMA Institute counts on the World Association of Past Pupils of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians which has been part of the Salesian Family since 1988. In 1990, it officially took the name of World Confederation of the Past Pupils of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
The missionary dimension is an essential element of the identity of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA Const. 75) and is expressed in Contemporaneity, in the choice of Educommunication to live the Preventive System in the light of the Christian anthropological vision as a call of God and fidelity to the Salesian charism in the style of the Da mihi animas cetera tolle and I entrust them to you (cf. Acts GC XXIII, n.66, 4).
Animated by the Salesian charism with the specific features of the ‘spirit of Mornese’, the FMA have as the purpose of their mission the integral growth of people, the accompaniment of young people on their journey of maturing their plan of life, the education of women, formation in the faith, and education in active citizenship, gratuitousness, and solidarity, in the style of Don Bosco’s Preventive System.
Among the works of the FMA there are: Oratory-Youth Center, Schools, and Vocational Formation Centers, Institutions of Higher Studies, works for children, adolescents, young people in difficult situations, Spirituality Centers, Centers for the Promotion of Women, the International Volunteer Association for Women Education Development (VIDES), the Human Rights Office (IIMA – Switzerland).
These works are animated by Educating Communities moved by the ardor of the da mihi animas cetera tolle and “I entrust them to you“, with feminine sensitivity, inspired by the charism of the Institute open to collaboration with families, with institutions, with lay people who share the same mission with them. In harmony with the hearts of young people, they listen to discern ‘other places’ in which to live the evangelical logic of gift and fraternity. They allow themselves to be questioned by all human peripheries, with particular attention to the situation of young people and young women; by human mobility, the care of the common home, digital environments, the search for a just and secure peace.
The Educating Communities with many faces, “founded on the presence of the Risen Christ and nourished by Him, Word and Bread” (FMA Const., N 49), live the shared mission which is participation in the same charism as a gift of the Holy Spirit for the present and for the future in which the laity and young people of the Salesian Family are an “active, conscious and responsible part of the mission of the Church” (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, 1988, n. 3).