Shillong (India). On 29 October 2022 the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Fr. Àngel Fernàndez Artime, visited the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (INS) Province at the Auxilium Convent, the Provincial House of Shillong. From 27 October, the Rector Major was in Shillong visiting the SDB St. John Paul II Province (INS), to participate in the celebration of the centenary of the arrival of the first 11 Salesian missionary pioneers who arrived in North East India. It was the 2nd time that the Rector Major visited the FMA Community; the first was on 30 October 2019.
Together with the Provincial, Sr. Elizabeth George, several FMA from some communities in the Province, the school band, the students, the pre-aspirants, and the collaborators of Auxilium Convent, gathered in the courtyard of the campus to welcome the Rector Major, accompanied by Fr. Biju Michael Pulianmackal, Regional Superior for South Asia; Fr. Paul Ophindro Lyngkot, Provincial of the Shillong Province; and other Provincials and guests.
The welcome ceremony was led by the school band, which played to a festive rhythm to welcome Don Bosco’s 10th successor. The pre-aspirants, through a Khasi dance, then accompanied the Rector Major inside the building where, in the portico, the FMA of the Community of Mary Immaculate Help of Christians sang a traditional song.
The Rector Major was then taken to the chapel for a brief moment of prayer. With reference to the liturgical memorial of Blessed Michael Rua, whose 50th anniversary of beatification occurred that day, he recalled the promise that Don Bosco made to little Michael, “We two will do everything in half” inviting the FMA pre-aspirants to ask themselves, “What is God’s plan for my life?” and urging them to always carry Jesus in their hearts.
Subsequently, Sr. Elizabeth George welcomed him into the large hall for an official welcome and for a time of fraternal dialogue, expressing gratitude for his messages of encouragement to the Salesian Family, in particular for the gift of the annual Strenna.
Fr. Àngel invited the sisters to thank God with humility for the numerous vocations they have received and encouraged them to have a broad vision and a big heart for the mission. He also spoke of the need to remain rooted in the evangelical choice and to be joyful witnesses of Jesus, like the first missionaries. Recalling the words of Pope Francis, he exhorted them to have “the smell of the sheep” and to be present next to people in need, especially the poorest. Finally, he recommended to the FMA to live fraternity in community, adding that it is the greatest evangelical witness of fidelity to the mission desired by Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello.
The Rector Major then conferred on Sr. Linda Horne, FMA, of Mary Help of Christians Community of Khapmara, the recognition for the life experience, proposed by all the Provinces of India, which she had not been able to receive during the FMA CEntenary Celebrations in India, held on 10 September 2022 at Auxilium College in Katpadi, Vellore (INM).
The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the INS Province experienced the visit of Fr Àngel Fernàndez Artime as a time of grace, feeling the presence of Don Bosco alive in their midst.