Italy - In Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran, 150th anniversary of Comboni Missionaries and FMA is celebrated

03 June 2022

(ANS - Rome) - Today, at 5:30 pm, June 3, 2022, in the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, Card. Vicar Angelo De Donatis presides over the Eucharistic Celebration for the 150th anniversary of both the Comboni Missionaries and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.

The Celebration  shall also be attended by the Mother General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, with her Council, the Novices of the International Novitiates "Sr. Teresa Valsè Pantellini" of Rome and "Mary Help of Christians" of Castelgandolfo, the Provincial of the St. John Bosco Province (IRO), Sister Gabriella Garofoli, the Provincial Council and the Rectors of the Rome Communities, several FMA from the Generalate (RCG), from the Communities of  Mary Mother of the Church Vice-Province (RMC) and the Rome Communities of the IRO Province.

Also attending will be the Mother General of the Comboni Sisters, Sister Luigina Coccia and her Council, some Sisters of the Rome Communities, and members of the General Chapter - in progress - of the Comboni Missionaries.

Also present will be the Superior of the Vice-Province Mary Seat of Wisdom, Fr. Maria Arokiam Kanaga, and the Rector Magnificus of the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS), Fr. Andrea Bozzolo.

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

The Comboni Missionary Sisters, founded by Monsignor Daniele Comboni in 1872 under the name of Pie Madri della Nigrizia, are an exclusively missionary Institute, of women consecrated to God for the mission ad gentes, according to the prophetic intuition of Comboni, who sensed the need to integrate consecrated women in the evangelizing mission of the Church. They are present in Africa, Europe, America, and Asia. They come from 33 nations, operate in 30 countries on four continents, and number more than 1,200.

The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, which Don Bosco wanted as a Monument of Grace to Mary Help of Christians, was born on August 5, 1872. The FMA are consecrated women who, living in community and being among the people, express radical love for Christ in educational service to young people, especially the poorest. The FMA Institute has been characterized by missionary passion since its inception: just five years after its foundation the first missionary expedition left for Uruguay (November 14, 1877). Currently, the FMA can be found on all five continents.

What these two Congregations have in common is their missionary passion. Their Founders, Bishop Daniele Comboni and Don Bosco, since 1864 met several times, sharing this passion for God and humanity.

The event of the First Vatican Council (1869-70) was decisive for Don Bosco in giving missionary impetus to the young Congregation of the Society of St. Francis de Sales, born on Dec. 18, 1859, and, later, of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians: many Bishops from America, Africa and Asia, took advantage of coming to Rome to recruit clergy and nuns. They came into contact with Don Bosco, visited Valdocco, and made proposals for Foundations. He felt this as a sign of God's will, was inspired, became fervent. In this context, between 1871 and 1872, the first missionary dream is set.

"It seemed to me that I was in a wild and completely unknown. It was an immense plain, all uncultivated, in which I discerned neither hills nor mountains. In the very distant ends, however, loomed rugged mountains (...). Meanwhile, I see in the distance a squad of missionaries approaching the hilarious-faced savages, preceded by a host of youths. I trembled, thinking: - They are coming to be killed. - And I approached them: they were clerics and priests. I stared at them intently and recognized them for our Salesians. The first ones were known to me, and although I could not personally meet many others who followed the first ones, I realized that they too were Salesian Missionaries, our very own." (Biographical Memoirs Vol. 10, pp. 54-55).

With the Eucharistic Celebration on June 3, 2022, the Comboni Missionary Sisters and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians give praise for the wonders accomplished through the two Congregations, God's gift to the Church, the youth, and the peoples of the whole world.


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