FMA India is marching towards the centenary of the arrival of the FMA (Salesian Sisters) Missionaries to India way back in 1922 on 24th November. The six pioneers who arrived in Tanjore were Sr. Teresa Balestra the leader of the group, Sr. Consiglia Tarricone, Sr. Catherine Marnetto, Sr. Maria Angeleri, Sr. Teresa Merlo and Sr. Luigina Appiano. On the following year 1923 on 8 December, another band of six missionaries arrived at Guwahati Northeast India. They were Sr. Innocenza Vallino as the leader, Sr. Maria Bricarello, Sr. Antonietta Rosetti, Sr. Clotilde Appiano, Sr. Giulia Berra and Sr. Cecilia Da Roit.
Marking this historic event, the entire FMA India which consisted of seven provinces – Madras (1946), Shillong (1953), Bombay (1982), Calcutta (1987), Bangalore (1993), Guwahati (2000) and Tiruchirappalli (2017) have proposed a three-year preparation towards the great centenary celebration. Coinciding with the 150 years of the foundation of the Institute, the theme proposed for each year was adapted with the theme proposed by the Institute. The themes are as follows:
First Year (2019 – 2020): Give thanks: “Let us truly thank the Lord who gives us many graces” (L 37, 10) by living our FMA Identity with Gratitude.
Second Year (2020 – 2021): Accept the mandate: ‘I entrust them to you’ – Reviving the Family spirit and strengthening Community Communion.
Third Year (2021-2022): Plan the future boldly: “Courage let us go ahead with a great and generous heart” (L 47, 12) Prophets and witnesses for a transformed society in the style of synodality.
On entering the grant finale year of preparation for the centenary celebration on 24 November 2021, each province conducted a flag hoisting ceremony. The flag bears the logo of the centenary celebration and the anthem for the same composed by the Shillong province was lively sung in every corner of the FMA communities of India. The centenary flag that was distributed to every animator of the communities will be placed in a prominent place in the community as a reminder of the specialty of the year. On this day, the centenary committee under the leadership of Sr. Teresa Joseph (INB) its coordinator organized an online event in which Sr. Nirmala Lazar provincial of Madras province who is also the FMA PCI President and Chairperson Centenary celebration launched the third year (2021 – 2022) of preparation. A one-minute flag hoisting from every province too was screened and a panel of four members shared their viewpoints on the topic, “Journeying together today” with Sr. Teresa Joseph as the moderator. Another highlight of the day was the release of a book titled, “Come let us journey together into our Common Home” authored by Sr. Alice Chacko (INK) was released by Sr. Meenakshi D’ Silva, provincial of Bombay province and FMA PCI Vice President. The two-hour online gathering concluded with the rendition of the centenary anthem via Youtube.
As FMA India steps into this milestone of their impact in the lives of the young and those entrusted to their care, the attitude of gratitude fills the heart of every FMA in this multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious reality of the nation.