(India). In the second year in preparation for the centenary of the arrival of the first missionaries in India (1922-2022), the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the Educating Communities of the PCI Interprovincial Conference, made up of seven Indian Provinces, experienced two online events.
On 21 November 2020, a moment of interprovincial prayer for the start of the 2nd year in preparation for the Centenary was broadcast live on the YouTube Channel for all the Educating Communities on the theme: “Accepting a mandate: ‘I entrust them to you’ – Revive the family spirit and strengthen communion”. Immaculate Heart of Mary Province of Shillong (INS) led the celebration in which the Provincial, Sr. Elizabeth George, recalled in her message the significance for the PCI Conference of this historical event and took up the theme of General Chapter XXIV. At the end of the prayer each participant, holding a lighted candle in her hand, made the commitment to share the Salesian charism in her own reality.
“Celebrating the memory of the Pioneers” is the event that took place on November 22, 2020, the anniversary date of the arrival of the first FMA in India ninety-eight years ago. Sr. Margaret Amalanathan, President of the Interprovincial Conference of India (PCI) and Provincial of Our Lady of the Snow Province (INT), welcomed the participants, in particular, the Mother General of the FMA Institute, Sr. Yvonne Reungoat, who connected from Rome.
The Provinces presented the video that gave a brief profile of the life of each of the six pioneer FMA who reached Tanjore, in the State of Tamil Nadu, on 22 November 1922: Sr. Teresa Balestra as Animator, Sr. Catherine Marnetto, Sr. Maria Angeleri, Sr. Luigina Appiano, Sr. Recommends Tarricone, and Sr. Teresa Merlo, led by Fr. Giorgio Tomatis, a Salesian missionary of Don Bosco who was returning to India. When they reached Tanjore, they found a small bare house, but they did not lose the joy of being on a mission and being able to practice the poverty and detachment of Mornese. They were well received by the local people, Christians and non-Christians alike, who showed respect and understanding when they made mistakes in Tamil, the local language. In a few weeks, the FMA inaugurated the first cutting and sewing workshop for girls, placed under the protection of Mary Help of Christians. At the same time, a dispensary dedicated to St. Mary Mazzarello was opened. The date of 18 January 1923, in which four little orphans were welcomed by the FMA, marked the opening of the orphanage.
In her talk, Mother Yvonne Reungoat expressed her best wishes to the FMA in view of the Centenary, inviting them to renew their missionary zeal and to offer missionaries ad gentes to the Institute.
In conclusion, Sr. Euginia Laloo, Communication Coordinator of the Shillong Province, presented a video on the FMA presence and on the mission of the seven Indian Provinces. The event was coordinated by Sr. Hilda Braganza, National Coordinator of Communication, and curated by Sr. Arockia Mary Selvi, Coordinator for Social Development of the INT Province.
Both online appointments were followed by more than 1000 participants from all the Educating Communities of India, by members of the Salesian Family, by the pupils and Past Pupils of the FMA.