Members of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA), also called Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco, have underscored their commitment to evangelize by facilitating formal education in Angola as they celebrate four decades of service in the Southern African nation.
Speaking after her canonical visit to FMA communities in the Catholic Diocese of Cabinda as part of the planned activities to mark the 40th anniversary of the Congregation members’ service in Angola, the FMA Provincial Superior said education is what defines their reason for existence.
“It is not just about teaching, but education, as we prefer to call it, is the characteristic of our charism and identity; we exist to educate and evangelize, and to evangelize by educating,” Sr. Natália Miguel said on Wednesday, October 18.
Sr. Miguel added, “Everything we do, whether in formal education, we talk about schools, professional education, etc., or in formal or non-formal education, we have Salesian professional education, free time education, youth centers, sports, we call it oratory, occupation of children in free time is our form of non-formal education.”
“We prepare for it; we demand it, and all our time is dedicated to it. We can’t see a child, teenager, or young person idle. It is the action of the Spirit who continues to accompany the whole Church in this growth, and we are happy because we have managed to do good to many people, and we are going to do more,” the FMA Provincial Superior said.
To mark 40 years of service in Angola, Sr. Miguel said that the Salesian newspaper will soon be launched and a website will be set up, as well as the inauguration of the St. Dominic Savio children’s center in the Diocese of Cabinda.
“The children’s center is part of the 40th anniversary celebrations, and not only that, because it’s about time that our presence in Cabinda, which is 13 years old, had an educational institution for the local reality, at our level, in our style of education,” she explained.
Sr. Miguel continued, “We started with the first phase of the project. It’s a big project; it’s long, but while we don’t have the aid we need, we’re going to start with the children’s center, which has seven classrooms, a large dining room for the children, a multipurpose room, and a chapel for religious education.”
“We will soon have a large field with a multipurpose hall for the young people of the area,” she added.
The FMA Provincial Superior further said, “We are still thinking about technical and vocational training or a technical institute for Cabinda. This is more or less our wish. As you know, it is necessary to communicate the good that is done through the media and its various forms of expression.”
“We want to communicate the Gospel to all people and make known the good that the Church does through its institutions. So, for this year we have the launch of the magazine, a special 40th anniversary edition to start with, a quarterly edition in digital and physical format,” Sr. Miguel said.
She continued, “We’re going to launch the Salesianas Angola website, which is also another way of making the institutions known worldwide.”
The presence of the FMA in Angola is the result of Project Africa, launched by the FMA Institute in 1982.
The pioneer FMA members, coming from four provinces of Brazil – Sr. Theotonia Thiesen, Sr. Anna Bello Soares, Sr. Juraci Maria da Silva, and Sr. Maria das Graças de Souza – left Rome on 23 October 1983, World Mission Sunday, sent by Mother Rosetta Marchese and by Sister Carmen Martin Moreno, General Councilor for the Missions.
On 24 October 1983, at the request of Archbishop André Muaca, the FMA arrived in Luanda, at St. Paul Parish of Luanda Archdiocese. Here the first FMA vocations in Angola were born.
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