Shillong (India). From 8 to 13 September 2023, on the occasion of the conclusion of the celebrations of the Centenary of the FMA in India, which took place on 10 September at the “Auxilium” Provincial House of Shillong, the Superior General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, with Sister Runita Galve Borja, Councilor for Youth Ministry; Sister Nilza Fátima de Moraes, Councilor for Formation; and Sister Celine Jacob, Visiting Councilor, visited Immaculate Heart of Mary Province (INS).
On 8 September, after the Visit at the Province Mary Help of Christians of (INC), Mother Chiara was welcomed at the Lokapriya Gopinath international airport in Guwahati as a guest by the Governor of the State of Meghalaya and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Traveling to Shillong, the first to receive them were the FMA and the aspirants of the Auxilium Formation Center of Saiden, joined by the nearby Community of Mawtnum.
Upon arrival at the Auxilium Campus in Shillong, Mother and the Councilors received a traditional and familiar welcome. Accompanied by the NCC Cadettes, the dancers, and the band of the Auxilium School, they paraded to the Provincial House in the presence of numerous Sisters, young people, and Past Pupils. The young people dressed in traditional clothes, waved the flags of the Salesian colors, blue and pink, as a sign of joyful welcome.
At the entrance, Mrs. Elena Kharkongor, teacher and Past Pupil, gave a short discourse and everyone was given a bouquet of flowers as a sign of welcome. To the tune of the song, “There shall be shower of blessings”, the school band then led the procession to the new Provincial House.
Mother Chiara wore the traditional Khasi dress that was followed by greetings from the Provincial Councilors, the Provincials of India, and the two Provincials of the CIAO Interprovincial Conference, Sister Alma Castagna, St. Mary D. Mazzarello (TIN) and CIAO President; and Sister Gertrude Ched, of Mary Our Help Province (CMY). Sister Elizabeth George, INS Provincial, then welcomed Mother Chiara, who reciprocated the Sisters’ gestures of affection and filial expression by thanking her in the local language, Khasi: “Khublei Shibun”.
The FMA then entered the chapel for a short prayer of thanks in which, remembering the Salesian Charism that was planted 100 years ago, has taken deep root and is flourishing in the Region, Mother Chiara offered a green plant as a symbolic gesture, placing the future of the Congregation in this part of the world in the hands of the Lord. In her Goodnight thought, Mother invited those present to invoke from God the gift of fidelity and creativity for the next hundred years, which do not belong only to the Provinces of the Nation, but to the entire Congregation.
On 9 September 2023, Mother Chiara Cazzuola inaugurated the new Provincial House adjacent to the old one and the building was blessed by Monsignor Victor Lyngdoh, Archbishop of Shillong. On the same day, Mother met the Salesian Cooperators and the Past Pupils of the FMA. Anthony Laloo, coordinator of the Association of Salesian Cooperators of the Shillong Province, briefly presented the local activities. Dr. Valencia Marboh and Mrs. Marylinda Sun, gave testimony of the impact of Salesian education on their lives and personalities.
During her stay in Shillong, Mother met the Provincial Councilors, the Community Animators, the FMA in four groups, the Temporary Professed FMA, the Novices, and the Aspirants. Mother reminded each of the groups of the post-capitular journey and invited them all to become pioneers of the second century and generators of life in the Community. To the Temporary Professed Sisters, Mother Chiara spoke about the discernment of the new Provincial. She clearly explained article 103 of the Constitutions and urged them to express their opinion with absolute freedom, listening to the Lord, without being influenced by others.
Sister Nilza Fátima de Moraes met the Pre-aspirants, the Aspirants, the Novices, the elderly FMA, and the Temporary Professed, encouraging them to recognize the centrality of Christ, who supports them in building a formative journey.
On 12 September, Mother visited the communities close to Shillong, namely Bellefonte, Outreach, and Mawlai. During her visit to Mary Help of Christians Training Center in Bellefonte Shillong, Mother Chiara inaugurated the Library of Bellefonte Community College and gave 100 sewing machines which will be distributed to the apprentices who have completed the course, in memory of the Centenary celebrations.
She also visited the Don Bosco Center for Indigenous Cultures, Don Bosco Museum of the Salesians of Don Bosco in Mawlai, where two FMA collaborate in the mission. A short stop followed at Sacred Heart Convent in Mawlai, with a solemn welcome by the Sisters, staff, and students. On that occasion, Mother Chiara met around fifty Salesians of Don Bosco from the communities of Shillong gathered at Sacred Heart Convent. She thanked them for the spiritual assistance to their Sisters and for the collegial mission in the spirit of the Salesian Family.
In the evening, in the Provincial House, a prayer of thanks and adoration was organized for the gift of the presence of Mother Chiara, Sister Nilza, and Sister Runita. Mother Chiara brought a shell to the altar, symbol of the prayerful journey of faith and fidelity. Expressions of thanks in words and songs followed and Mother reminded the Sisters that they are creators of history, urging them to promise God their faithfulness, generosity, and life of communion. She then concluded her message by saying, “from the Mother who loves you very much,” like Mother Mazzarello.
On 13 September 2023, traveling to Guwahati for the visit to the Mater Ecclesiae Province, Mother Chiara Cazzuola and the General Councilors visited the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians in Shillong and prayed on the tombs of the three Salesian archbishops who rest there. She also signed the Cathedral’s visitors’ book.
Photos: Flickr FMA