Rome (Italy).  In 2022 the Institutes of the Combonian Missionary Sisters and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians are both celebrating the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Congregations. To celebrate this important event as a Church, on 3 June 2022 at 17:30 (Italian time) in Rome, in the Basilica of St. John in Lateran, Cardinal Vicar Angelo De Donatis will preside over a Eucharistic Celebration.

The celebration will be attended by the Superior General of the FMA Institute, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, with her Council; Mother Yvonne Reungoat, Mother General Emerita and USMI President; the Provincial of  St. John Bosco Province (IRO ), Sr. Gabriella Garofoli, the Provincial Council and the Animators of the Communities of Rome; the Novices of the International Novitiates Sister Teresa Valsè Pantellini of Rome and Mary Help of Christians of Castel Gandolfo; other FMA from the Generalate (RCG), from the Communities of the Preprovince  Mary Mother of the Church (RMC), and from the Communities of Rome of the IRO Province

Participants will be the Mother General of the Combonian Sisters, Sr. Luigina Coccia and her Council, some Sisters of the Communities of Rome, and some members of the General Chapter in progress of the Combonian Missionaries.

Also present will be the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime; the Superior of the Mary Seat of Wisdom Preprovince, Fr. Maria Arokiam Kanaga; and the Rector Magnificent of the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS), Fr. Andrea Bozzolo.

The two Mothers General, after the blessing of the Cardinal at the end of the Celebration, will address a greeting to the whole assembly.

The Combonian Missionary Sisters, founded by Msgr. Daniel Comboni in 1872, with the name of Pie Mothers of Africa, are an exclusively missionary institute of women consecrated to God for the mission ad gentes, according to the prophetic intuition of Comboni, who felt the need to integrate consecrated women into the evangelizing mission of the Church. They are present in Africa, Europe, America, and Asia. They come from 33 countries, operate in 30 Countries on four continents, and are more than 1200.

On 5 August 1872 the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, was born, which Don Bosco wanted as a Monument of Gratitude to Mary Help of Christians. The FMA are consecrated women who, living in community and being among the people, express radical love for Christ in the educational service to young people, especially the poorest. The FMA Institute is characterized by missionary passion since its foundation. In fact, just five years after the Foundation, the first missionary expedition to Uruguay departed (November 14, 1877). Currently the FMA are found in all 5 Continents.

What unites these two Congregations is missionary passion. Their founders, Msgr. Daniele Comboni and Don Bosco, met many times from 1864, sharing this passion for God and for humanity.

The event of Vatican Council I (1869-70) was decisive for Don Bosco in giving missionary impulse to the young Congregation of the Society of Saint Francis de Sales, born on 18 December 1859 and, subsequently, to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Many Bishops America, Africa, and Asia took advantage of their coming to Rome to recruit clergy and sisters. They entered into a relationship with Don Bosco, visited Valdocco, and made proposals for foundations. He felt it as a sign of God’s will and was enthusiastic. In this context between 1871 and 1872, he places the first missionary dream.

“It seemed to me that I was in a wild and completely unknown region. It was an immense plain, all overgrown, in which neither hills nor mountains could be seen. At the far ends, however, all the rugged mountains outlined it (…). Meanwhile, in the distance, I see a group of missionaries approaching the happy-faced savages, preceded by a group of young men. I was trembling thinking: They’re going to be killed.  And I went up to them; they were clerics and priests. I stared at them carefully and recognized them as our Salesians. Some were known to me and, although I was not able to personally know many others who followed the former, I realized that they too were Salesian Missionaries, really ours” (Biographical Memoirs Vol. 10, pp. 54-55).

With the Eucharistic Celebration of 3 June 2022, the Combonian Missionary Sisters and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians give praise for the wonders accomplished through the two Congregations, a gift of God to the Church, to young people, and to peoples of the whole world.



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