MOTHER ANGELA VESPA
Angela was born in Northern Italy in 1887. Her family was hard-working and faith-filled. As a girl, Angela was a student at the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians’ school in Nizza Monferrato. Angela was intelligent, thoughtful, responsible, docile to the action of grace, and very friendly with her companions.
In 1906, she asked to join the Institute as a postulant, and was admitted to profession in 1909. After obtaining the her high school diploma, she was sent to Rome to attend University. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Pedagogy in 1915.
She began her educational activity in Ali Terme (Messina), where she met Mother Linda Lucotti. She found Mother Linda to be an excellent guide. She was later at Vallecrosia as a teacher, and Vicar of the house. From 1927 to 1933 she was Superior in Nizza Monferrato, and from 1933 to 1936, in Turin. For a little over a year, she was the provincial in Turin’s central province. On September 11, 1938, she was appointed General Councillor in charge of studies, replacing mother Linda Lucotti.
In 1955, she was elected Vicar General and at the death of Mother Linda in 1957, she became Superior General of the Institute. Her gifts of enlightened faith, prudence, motherly love and educative wisdom shone for all the communities of the FMA. Despite frail health, she lived a full decade of government with extraordinary wisdom and openness of mind and heart. During the Special General Chapter of 1969, she offered her resignation from her office stating that the Institute needed “fresh and dynamic forces and that she wanted to end her earthly pilgrimage at the Pedagogical Institute “Sacred Heart” in Turin. Mother Linda had begun this Pedagogical school, and Mother Angela had loved and supported Sacred Heart during her role as Mother General. She died on July 8, 1969.
LINES OF GOVERNMENT
Unlike Mother Catherine Daghero and Mother Linda Lucotti, Mother Angela Vespa did not undertake long journeys. She visited a few European countries and chose to guide the Institute from the center, through the wisdom of her guidance, and the promotion of conventions and international conferences. The International Catechetical Congress, which gave a strong impetus to the entire catechetical community, even remains to this day.
Beyond catechetical formation, the Institute was stimulated by mother Angela to strengthen professional and personal formation by all means possible. She encouraged both the professional development of the Sisters, as well as the girls. This was a timely insight, in an era of specialization and a new and massive presence of career women. She had a characteristic wisdom to guide that permeated her personality and her style of animation. She courageously undertook the demands of post Vatican II updating, but also continued to highlight the formation of the Sisters as teachers and Salesian catechists. The time when Mother Angela was at the helm was one of consolidation of important works for the Institute, as well as the creation of new works, including professional business schools for vocational training of girls, charitable works for the workers of the textile factory in Turin and the construction of the “Laura Vicuña” Sports Center. In addition, she began opening the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians to the means of Social Communication. In 1964 – ’65 from within the International Catechetical Center, emerged the Center for Instruments of Social Communication (SCS), which had as its specific purpose the preparation of FMA specialized in the use of the media.
Mother Angela could freely say, on her deathbed, as a synthesis of her busy life: “I’ve always lived by faith and have never been twiddling my thumbs.”