Albania. From 23 to 26 March 2023, the formation meeting for the Temporary Professed Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the Southern Province of Our Lady of Good Counsel (IMR) was held in Albania, a meeting desired for some years and postponed due to the pandemic, between the Temporary Professed and the Community of Albania, which has finally become concrete. Nine Temporary Professed Sisters took part, accompanied by the Provincial, Sr. Ivana Milesi, and Sr. Anna Avenia.

“The communities welcomed us with every kindness, giving us the possibility, even by upsetting their daily life a little, to get to know the local realities, the works, the young people, the history of a proud and wounded people”.

A part of this people’s history was told in the visit to the National and Ethnographic Museum of Kruja and in the visit to the Scutari prison which, in particular, made it possible to hear, even if only from a distance, the screeching of a story that has erased many lives but has not crushed the faith, the desire to live, and to dream of a greater future.

The presence and mission of consecrated women and educators is in line with this hope. “It is extraordinary to see the richness of our charism! Getting to know the houses of Scutari, Tale, and Tirana allowed us to see how Don Bosco’s educational attention, the typical features of the Preventive System, are capable of generating beauty in every culture and of safeguarding the growth of many children … in every part of the world”.

The first FMA house in Albania was founded way back in 1907, by five Sisters who took care of an orphanage in Scutari as requested by the ANSMI (National Association for the Relief of Italian Missionaries). Their work, which was gradually expanding, had several setbacks due to the various political changes, until the expulsion of 1946, which forced the non-Albanian FMA – all with the exception of two – to leave the mission land.

Hard years of violence and fear began under the communist regime. These 45 long years ended with the fall of the regime in 1990. The following year was marked by the return of the presence of the FMA in a country that had changed its face, but in which we could rebuild together. And so, over the years, the Communities allowed themselves to be questioned by more than just social challenges.

Today in the houses of Scutari, Tale and Tirana, children are offered the opportunity to grow from an educational and spiritual point of view. Here are some activities:

  • In Scutari, the Community of Mary Help of Christians, there is a school that includes all levels: infancy, primary, middle, and high school; a boarding school that guarantees girls the possibility of attending school, otherwise difficult to reach by means of transport; catechesis, and the oratory, in collaboration with the SDB confreres in the adjacent house.
  • At Tale, Laura Vicuña Community, oratory, reception center, catechesis, professional courses.
  • In Tirana, Mary D. Mazzarello Community: School, oratory, catechesis, and other activities, in collaboration with the SDB of the same city.

These are the typical works of the Salesian charism, however placed in a multicultural and multireligious reality.

“It is not to be taken for granted to feel at home right away, yet in these few days we have experienced a fraternity that is home, a charism that is home. A special thanks to all those who made this encounter possible and to the Lord who gave us this experience”.


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