KALYANI, (C.M. Paul) — The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA) at Auxilium Kalyani celebrated the 140th anniversary of the foundation of their Institute, Silver Jubilee of FMA Kolkata province, and silver jubilee of the religious profession of two Sisters in the Kalyani Community, 5th August 2012. The celebrations started with a solemn Eucharistic celebration in the parish church presided over by Bishop Joseph Gomes of Krishnagar. The jubliarians and six concelebrants were escorted to the altar in a liturgical entrance dance by parish youth and boarding girls. Also 25 Salesian Sisters carried lamps to the altar signifying 25 years of service.
During the solemn liturgy jubilarians Sr Rosalia Tirkey (Superior) and Sr Margaret Barla renewed their religious vows along with some 30 FMAs gathered for the occasion from communities in the neighbouring districts of Hooghly, North 24 Parganas and Kolkata.
Some 300 people joined at the felicitation progarmme and lunch at the convent.
It was on 5th August 1872 in Mornese, a small village in the province of Alessandria (Northwest Italy), 11 young women consecrated themselves to the Lord and gave birth to what would become an international Institute.
Also on 5th August 1872 Don Bosco was in Mornese to speak to the young women, explaining the significance of the ceremony, teaching them to read the responses and the formula of the vows: “Now you belong to a religious Family”, he said, “which is totally the Madonna’s; you are few in number, you are short of resources and you are not supported by human approval. Let nothing disturb you. […] The Institute will have a great future if you keep yourselves simple, poor and mortified. […] Remember frequently that your Institute must be a living monument to Don Bosco’s gratitude to the great Mother of God, invoked under the title of Help of Christians.” (cf Cronistoria I 305-306)
Don Bosco wanted a female Institute which could complement the educational work which he was carrying out for boys. In Maria Domenica Mazzarello, who would be the co-foundress, and in the first group of girls which met in Mornese, there arose the possibility that his dream would be realised.
Today the FMA Institute numbers 13,653 sisters (as of December 2011) distributed in 1,436 communities in 94 countries of the five continents.
Schools, Vocational Training Centres, family homes, works for street girls, leisure clubs, volunteering, catechesis, works for primary evangelisation, work with indigenous people, works for women’s rights, micro-credit organisations and micro-enterprises … these are just some of the activities through which the FMA seek to live out their mission of educating and evangelising, together with a great many lay collaborators, volunteers and young leaders.