Rome (Italy). “Go into the whole world, proclaim the gospel to every creature,” is the mission, the trust that God entrusts to every Christian. The da mihi animas coetera tolle animated Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello to a strong missionary passion and, although their desire to go did not result in a physical geographical departure, each year they sent sisters, confreres, and young people, with the sole desire to proclaim Jesus to all, without exception.

In the Museum Don Bosco in House in Valdocco, Turin, there is an object particularly “used”, but strongly significant: the globe that Don Bosco looked at with his first young collaborators. From there, the horizons of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello first, and of all the members of the Salesian Family then broadens towards the North, East, West, and South of the world.

In 1875, there was the first missionary expedition of the Salesians, and in 1877, the first missionary expedition of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Since then, an incessant and uninterrupted missionary sending has spread from Europe to other realities.

From the statistical data of the FMA Institute, it is noted that from 14 November 1877 to 31 December 2023, 3,354 Daughters of Mary Help of Christians left in the various missionary expeditions through missionary mandates and with the bestowal of the crucifix.  Excluded from this number are the Sisters who moved within the American continent and were sent to other nations for new foundations.

Today as well, after 150 years, many young people of the European continent decide to dedicate a time of their summer holidays or of their life to the service of other in some mission of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians or of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

They are young people who during the year have followed a path of formation and preparation. In different Provinces, these paths are proposed in collaboration between SDB and FMA, within the paths of Provincial Youth Ministry or by VIDES Association present in various European Countries, and by the Madreselva Fundation of Spain.

In the coming months, about 300 young people will leave from the FMA Provinces of Europe and about twenty FMA Sisters will accompany the groups, who will reach these destinations:

Albania (2 groups); Benin; Bolivia; Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo); Brazil (3 groups); Burundi; Campo Vides Calais (France); Campo Vides Guînes (France); Campo Vides in Portugal; Egypt (2 groups); El Salvador (2 groups); Ethiopia (5 groups); India; Kenya (2 groups); Marsa-Tunis (Tunisia); Lithuania; Madagascar (2 groups); Menzel Bourguiba (Tunisia); Moldova; Mozambique (3 groups); Nisida – Naples (at the juvenile prison); Papua New Guinea; Paraguay; Romania (3 groups); Senegal; Sierra Leone; Slovakia (2 groups); Tanzania.

The young people leaving will be welcomed by the FMA or SDB communities of the places where they will go, and will carry out different types of activities: animation and visits in the villages, support for children, support at the village dispensary; Salesian animation in the Summer Children of the oratory; assistance to people affected or living in situations of conflict; visits to poor people and distribution of food; visits to prisons; accompaniment of young migrants.

In the course of missionary experiences, many young people “kindle the fire” of the desire to set out, to undertake a journey in the depths of their being to follow paths of the search for God, until now unknown.

They never return the same as they left. These are moments when all the young people, in addition to the FMA and SDB who accompany them, are touched in the soul and invited to look beyond themselves, to broaden the horizons of solidarity and universal fraternity starting from the encounter with the other.

Niccolò Fabi, an Italian singer-songwriter, in his song “I am the other” of 2019 says: “I am the other; I am the one who frightens; I am the one who sleeps in the next room. I am the other; you can find me in the mirror of your reflected image, the opposite of yourself. I am the other; I am the shadow of your body. I am the shadow of your world; the one who does the dirty work in your place.”

In welcoming the Other, one is “other” for the Others. To all the young people, to the FMA and SDB in departure, the wish that you may be God’s blessing for those whom you will meet on the different routes of the world!


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