Rome (Italy) On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the canonical erection of the Pontifical Faculty of Science of Education “Auxilium” the first volume of the Paths Series was published: Diary on the occasion of the first trip to America of the Superior General Sister Catterina Daghero (1895-97) by Sister Felicina Fauda, edited by Sr. Maria Concetta Ventura and published by Edizione Palumbi, Teramo 2020.
The book presents the trip taken by Madre Caterina Daghero, second Superior General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians that 125 years ago, on 1 November 1895, left from Genoa to visit the Sisters and works in America where the first missionaries had arrived in 1877. This ‘travel diary’ is described and commented on by Sr. Felicina Fauda, the young FMA chosen to accompany Mother as her personal secretary and document the almost two years of long and dangerous travels with various means of transportation to the nations of Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, and Brazil to meet the Sisters, make them feel the closeness of the Institute, and learn about the conditions in which they lived.
The text recalls the female missionary life of the late nineteenth century, in which very young women faced transoceanic journeys and inserted themselves in environments often marked by misery, working with enthusiasm to bring the Gospel and a happy life to brothers and sisters in distant lands.
“We can discover in these sisters, mostly very young, pioneers animated by a strong missionary ardor, willing to let themselves be questioned by the peoples with whom they came in contact, capable of loving them and being loved. If we wanted to use an expression of Pope Francis, we could define them as ‘outgoing women’, leaving their homeland, their language and customs, their protected environments that were typical of female religious life of the time and going out especially towards girls and women in need of discovering and protecting their own dignity, of becoming aware and responsible citizens and Christians” (Mother Yvonne Reungoat, Superior General of the FMA, Presentation, p. 7).
Sister Maria Concetta Ventura, FMA, edited the edition of this ‘Diary’, offering a lively and articulated cross-section of the houses, pastoral activities, labors, and joys of the missionaries, of long and adventurous journeys, so that FMA and lay readers, can draw nourishment for increased missionary zeal and deepening of the feminine Salesian spirit.
The text of the Diary is preceded by the description of the notebooks. The focus is on the main characters, on the development of the FMA missions in America from 1877 to 1897, and on the teachings of Mother Daghero. There are indications to facilitate the reading and understanding of the Diary and a photographic insert.
“The journey – we read in the Preface by Adriana Valerio – is configured by the missionary Sisters as the theological meeting place. […] Traveling and leaving their own country, physically and mentally, meant for those women accepting change, letting themselves be transformed, looking at the human condition with different eyes in a world no longer perceived as foreign, but welcomed in a compassionate way within one’s own experience, […] encountering God in a different way, no longer contemplated in the static intimacy of a condition considered privileged, but welcomed in works of charity, as a companion on a long journey through the rough roads of life.”