Calcutta (India). From 5 to 8 September 2023, on the occasion of the conclusion of the celebrations of the Centenary of the arrival of the 2nd group of missionaries in northern India, the Superior General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, with the Councilors for Formation and Youth Ministry, Sister Nilza Fatima de Moraes and Sister Runita Borja, visited Mary Help of Christians Province of Calcutta (INC).

On the evening of 4 September, they were welcomed at the New Delhi airport by the Provincial, Sister Leelamma Palliparambil, by the Animators and FMA of the Communities of New Delhi and, upon their arrival at Auxilium House Vasant Vihar, by the Sisters of the Delhi region.

The following day, September 5, they were solemnly welcomed by the staff and students of Holy Child Auxilium in Vasant Vihar. They received a guard of honor from members of the NCC, the National Cadet Corps, and students in various attire, who escorted them to the auditorium for a performance of cultural music and dance. Each of them was given a souvenir of the “Ashoka chakra” stupa, the ancient wheel-shaped emblem symbol of India. After the show, the teachers met with Mother and the Councilors who later went to Holy Child Auxilium R.K. Puram to spend some moments with the community and the students of the school.

At the end of the morning, accompanied by the Provincial, Sister Leelamma, Sister Teresa Adampakallel, and Sister Celine Alexander, they met the Apostolic Nuncio, Monsignor Leopoldo Girelli. The Nuncio underlined evangelization as a priority and thanked Mother General for the Institute’s pastoral contribution to the Church in India.

Mother then met the FMA, illustrated the post-capitular journey to them, and urged them to live vocational fruitfulness by seeking to be a generative presence among the young people, and to live a life of testimony in the Community. She also met with members of the Salesian Family in the New Delhi area, encouraging them to walk together and build society on the charismatic values of the Founders. The day ended with the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by the Provincial of New Delhi, Fr. Davis Maniparamben, SDB, and concelebrated by 20 Salesians in the presence of the FMA, Salesian Cooperators, members of the ADMA, and Past Pupils.

On 6 September, Holy Mass in honor of the first missionaries was presided over by Fr.  Anil J.T. Couto of the Archdiocese of New Delhi, priest of St. Domenic Parish, who congratulated the Sisters for 100 years of commitment to young people and the poor. Before leaving for Calcutta, Mother thanked the staff of the House for their work and care that made their stay comfortable. On the way to the airport, she also visited the St. Joseph House, shelter for children at risk in Palam Goan.

The Provincial, Sister Salomi Minj, and the Sisters of the Provincial House of Dum Dum were there to welcome her at Calcutta airport, where she later received the traditional welcome from the Past Pupils. The FMA of various communities, the novices, and the young people in formation reserved a solemn entrance for the guests with various traditional gestures, well explained by the Animator, Sister Stella Potteparambil. In the evening, Mother Chiara had the joy and grace of visiting the tomb of Saint Teresa of Calcutta and meeting with the Vicar General and the General Secretary, Sister Christie and Sister Concettina, of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Charity.

In the Goodnight, Mother Chiara spoke to the Sisters about the sacrifices faced by the first missionaries, which still bear fruit today, and about the responsibility of transmitting the Charism to future generations.

The Eucharistic Celebration of 7 September was presided over by Msgr. Thomas D’Souza, Archbishop of Calcutta, and concelebrated by the priests of the parish church. At the entrance, the pioneers and 100 years of FMA presence in northern India were remembered with a procession of 100 lamps followed by a dance, an expression of joy and gratitude for the growth and vitality of the Institute. In the homily, the celebrant invited the FMA to be fulfilled in their own identity so that the Lord may work in them.

The students of Auxilium Dum Dum expressed their joy in the presence of Mother and the General Councilors with paintings representative of Bengali culture and through an engaging cultural show of various types of Bengali dances. Mother Chiara congratulated the students, teachers, FMA, and parents for having represented the rich cultural diversity of India with creativity and wished them a good continuation on their journey. She also inaugurated the Centenary memorial with the visions of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello at the entrance to the Provincial House.

The illustrious guests were then “escorted” from Dum Dum to the Auxilium Convent in Barasat by the local police and by a procession of Barasat Past Pupils on motorbikes. Upon their arrival, they were welcomed by the Sikkim marching band and the Bandel scout group and with a series of colorful performances by the students. Nine schools from across the Province came together to celebrate the presence of Mother General by showing their talents and India’s rich cultural heritage in an atmosphere of celebration and joy.

The Federation of Past Pupils of the Calcutta Province also enthusiastically participated in this gala celebration. Mother’s greeting filled everyone’s hearts, motivating us to carry forward this great legacy. Also, the words of Sister Runita Borja, “Alone we go fast, together we go far,” struck the students, leaving an indelible memory in the participants of this event. Even the little ones from the Barasat nursery school expressed their joy by energetically waving pink and blue festoons.

Another memorable welcome was given by the Province Formation House in Barasat, where Mother met the young women in formation, the Postulants, the Novices, and the Temporary Professed FMA, urging them to always be cheerful and underlining the importance of living religious and community life to the fullest. The Community gave the Mother a bridge, as a sign of always remaining connected. Then Mother inaugurated the centenary commemorative grotto dedicated to Mary Help of Christians.

Upon returning to the Provincial House of Dum Dum, she met the FMA, the Animators, and the Provincial Councilors. Mother Chiara invited the Sisters to generate life in the community, to live a life of profound spirituality, to have great faith and trust in the Lord, and to be tabernacles that bring Jesus to others. She urged the Animators to take care of everyone, to have a kind heart, to strengthen the virtue of patience, to remain calm and serene, to be guardians of each Sister, and to make themselves present in each one’s life.

On 8 September, the last day, feast of the Nativity of Mary, gratitude to Mother and the Councilors became even more evident. The Eucharist, presided over by Fr. Joseph Pauria, SDB, with other Salesians, began with an entrance dance and Mother brought a bridge as a symbol of unity in diversity in the Institute. During the homily, the celebrant highlighted the blessings brought by Mother’s visit and encouraged those present to imitate Mary.

Sister Stella Potteparambil again expressed heartfelt thanks to Mother and the Councilors on behalf of the entire Province. This visit will remain imprinted on everyone’s memory and will continue to instill hope and vigor in the daily journey of each Sister.

Photos: Flickr FMA INC


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