Guwahati (India). From 13 to 15 September 2023, on the occasion of the conclusion of the celebrations of the Centenary of the FMA in India – that took place on 10 September at “Auxilium” Provincial House in 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 and Sister Nilza Fátima de Moraes, visited Mater Ecclesiae Province (ING) of Guwahati, India.

Upon their arrival at the Provincial House of Mary Help of Christians in Guwahati, the Animators of the 40 Houses of the Province, the FMA, representatives of the teachers, and young people in colorful traditional clothes gave them a traditional Assamese welcome.

The Mother General inaugurated the statues that represent the nine-year dream of Johnny Bosco, with Mary Help of Christians, St. John Bosco, and Saint Mary Mazzarello. 100 white and blue balloons, symbol of 100 years of presence of the FMA in North East India, were then released into the sky by Mother, Sister Runita, Sister Nilza, and the Provincial, Sister Alphonsa Kurisingal, who were then accompanied towards the Chapel with a traditional Assamese Bihu dance. Here Mother Chiara made a floral tribute to the six FMA pioneers in North East India.

In the meeting with the Community Animators, focused on “Coordination for Formation”, Mother spoke about the service of authority in the Institute. Subsequently, at the Holy Child School in Guwahati, she gave a conference to 70 FMA Temporary Professed Sisters. She began her talk by quoting Mother Mazzarello who says, “Courage”, a word that inspires and motivates to move forward and turn the page of difficulties with positivity; not to look at things superficially but in depth. “With freedom of heart, do everything for the Lord,” was her final exhortation to the young Sisters.

14 September was a double day of celebration, due to the presence of Mother and the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.  Holy Mass was presided over by Msgr. John Moolachira, Archbishop of Guwahati. In the introductory moment, Mother Chiara brought the logo of the Centenary Celebration to the altar, while the Provincial brought the symbol of the footprints, to represent the indelible imprints of the Charism left over the course of a century by the deceased Sisters. In his homily, the Archbishop placed the emphasis on the Holy Cross as identity and salvation.

On this day, the renovated library of the Provincial House was inaugurated by Mother, in the presence of the Provincial and the 40 Animators. Sister Sania Josephine, Provincial Secretary, recounted the origins, construction, and evolution of the library.

Afterwards, Mother and the Councilors had the joy of meeting a large group of young people at St Mary’s Maligaon. The Youth Festival, to celebrate 100 years of FMA presence, was a joyful testimony of the liveliness and skill of the young people of north-eastern India. Cultural presentations by youth representatives from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Manipur showcased the rich culture and identity of the people of North East India, blessed with hundreds of languages and tribes. Mother reached the hearts of young people with her final message, “like the six FMA Pioneers, women of great courage who believed in hope, the young people of today are called to be beacons of life, hope, and light in society to transform the lives of many.”

The Novices and Aspirants also had the joy of spending time with Mother Chiara, who spoke to them about a “Christ-oriented life” and the profound motivations for undertaking the path of religious life.

The intense day concluded with the meeting with the representatives of the Past Pupils of all four States, who expressed their gratitude for the missionary zeal and educational mission of the Salesian Sisters in society.  Mother General reciprocated by expressing her gratitude for the contribution of the Past Pupils to the educational work of the FMA and encouraged them to give their lives through education, bringing the Salesian Charism among the young people.

On September 15, Mother, with Sister Runita and Sister Nilza, met two groups of FMA. She encouraged them to continue to be generative of life, despite the difficulties and challenges of today’s social and religious contexts, remembering that the Charism is a gift of the Holy Spirit and not a political ideal. She left the Sisters a question to reflect on: “Who are you in the Institute?”

At St Mary’s in Guwahati, on the sacred ground of the first FMA House in North East India, Mother was welcomed with a red carpet, and with a representation of the arrival of the six pioneers.

The Salesian Cooperators and ADMA members of the Province had a brief meeting with her. Mr. Lucas Basumatary, SC, introduced by Sister Scolastica Kerketta, gave a brief presentation of the SSCC and the path of the ADMA Association. Mother thanked the Salesian Family and recalled that they are part of Don Bosco’s dream: sometimes as the shepherd, other times as the transformed sheep.

The Holy Mass of thanksgiving with the members of the Salesian Family showed the vitality of the Salesian Charism in India. Msgr. Thomas Menamparampil SDB, Archbishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of Guwahati, presided over the celebration with 14 other priests.

In the introduction, he underlined that celebrating 100 years of the presence of the FMA is an opportunity to remember the first missionaries who arrived in India never to return. Theirs was a life of total donation in God’s mission: “They dreamed big for humanity”.

After the Mass, Mother presented the volume “The flower that never sets Vol. II – The life of the deceased Sisters of the ING Province”, written by Sister Philomena D’ Souza Ivy and Sister Kaini Martha. This was followed by the inauguration of the “Heritage Gallery” by the Mother General at St. Mary’s in Guwahati, the first FMA House, which documents the journey of the Salesian Sisters through one hundred years of presence, with the values, ethical principles, and traditions that the ING Province carries forward.

On 16 September, after the visit to the Provinces of Kolchata (INC), Shillong (INS) and Guwahati, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, Sister Nilza de Moraes and Sister Runita Borja returned to Rome.

Foto: Flickr FMA


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