Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco in Zambia
(THE DAUGHTERS OF MARY HELP OF CHRISTIANS)
It was Don Bosco’s dream to have missionaries all over Africa. Several times he was found studying the map of Africa and would say, ‘If I was young, I would take Rua with me and we would go to Africa.’ This desire of Don Bosco was realized in 1978 when a proposal was presented by the first African Salesian priest to attend a General Chapter in Rome, Italy where he asked of the possibility to have more Salesians working in many African countries. The Rector Major, Don Vigano together with Mother General, Rosetta Marchese saw the importance of this project and supported it. They saw Project Africa as a grace from God. Project Africa was positively accepted by the Vatican. Various Provinces of the Salesians and Salesian Sisters took on the different countries in Africa and started preparing the new Missionaries.
Archbishop Elias Mutale of Kasama invited the Salesian Sisters to work in his Archdiocese. They were to build a house for the sisters at the Parish in Luwingu.
Meanwhile, five Salesian Sisters from Poland were being prepared for the new mission, namely, Sr. Stefania Blecharczyk, Sr. Ryszarda Piejko, Sr. Zofia Lapinska, Sr. Maria Domalewska and Sr. Krystyna Kuzminska. These Sisters went to do the missionary Course in Rome, so had to learn Italian, then they went to England to learn English and finally, on the 16 October, 1984 they landed in Lusaka. They were cordially welcomed by the Salesians and then went to stay with The Little Servants of Mary Immaculate, in Matero compound, Lusaka as they had no home of their own. Within a short time they went off to Ilondola for the Bemba Language Course. Here they stayed for a few months.
As the house in Luwingu was still been built, and they had no home, Arch Bishop, Elias Mutale arranged for the Sisters to go to the different communities of Sisters of the Child Jesus: Kasama, Chilubula Mission, Mporokoso, Ipusukilo Mission and one went to Chilubi Island and stayed with the White Sistes, to brush up on the Bemba language, be part of their mission and to learn the culture of the Zambian people. They were separated for about 10 months and then finally were able to move into the new house in Luwingu. On the 19th of March 1986, the official blessing of the house took place and the community started the mission activities in the Parish, Luwingu Secondary School, Luwingu Hospital and opened the Mazzarello Skills Training Centre.
A second Community was established in Lusaka in the same year in August 1986, in Mwalule Road, Thorn Park. A second and third group of Sisters from different provinces arrived, Sr. Geraldine Reakes from England, Sr. Celeste Yolola from the Philippines, Sr. Katarzyna Urbanska from Poland, Sr. Maria Mazzone from Italy, Sr. Kim Keraitis from the United States and Sr. Zenaida Zamora from the Philippines. A third house was opened in Kasama in 1990. Life was difficult in the early days. The Sisters were robbed a number of times. Thereafter, more Missionaries arrived from the different continents.
Meanwhile, the Sisters were in contact with young girls in Secondary Schools, those coming to the Oratories and Youth Centres asked to join them. This was a great joy, so the Formation Programme was quickly put into action. There has been a constant flow of vocations and today, 2019, 35 years later, we have 34 Zambian Sisters. Some of the sisters are professionally prepared for the mission in the Salesian charism and some are presently studying in Rome in preparation to undertake active participation in the mission of Don Bosco and Maria Mazzarello in the Church in Zambia.
The works spread to Makeni, in Lusaka, in 1995, where we have the project ‘City of Hope’, for girls, consisting of a Home for those referred through the Social Welfare, a Skills Training Centre, (Auxilium), and originally was an Open Community School, that has been upgraded to a Primary and Secondary School. In 1996, the FMA started the mission work in Mansa, at the request of Bishop Aaron Chisha. The Mission at Chimese, Mansa, consists of a school, youth work, oratory, skills training and a school for children with special needs (literacy) and a pre-school.
In 2008 the FMA opened a new house in Mazabuka, at the request of Bishop Emilio Patriarca. The house ‘City of Joy’ caters for girls referred through the Social Welfare. We also have an Oratory and Youth Centre.
In 2017, the Salesian Sisters opened a new house and with a new mission in Makeni, called Mornese Spirituality Centre. It is a house of formation for young people, leaders, women and religious, for young people in a period of orientation and formation. It is also a house to welcome groups of religious for retreats and formation courses, youth pastoral activities and for past pupils.
Currently in Zambia, the work of the Salesian Sisters is for the young people, youth work, oratories, teaching, Catechetical work, programmes for the promotion of the women, skills empowerment to the young people, education in farming to young people and other pastoral works at the national level and local levels. Our work is particularly for girls of the adolescent stage and those who have the least chances for development.
Our system of education is Don Bosco’s Preventive System which is an experience of communion lived among ourselves and with young people, in an atmosphere of spontaneity, friendship and joy. Its basic components are Reason, Religion and Loving Kindness which inspires our educative mission in responding fully to the needs of Evangelization in the world of the young.
Our presence is where there are Young People. Don Bosco’s motto is ‘Give me souls, take away the rest’.The Congregation of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice (FMA), and better known as Salesian Sisters, was cofounded by St. John Bosco and St. Maria Mazzarello in 1872, in Mornese, Italy. It is a Marian Congregation. Don Bosco wanted Salesian Sisters to be a “Living Monument” of his gratitude to Mary Help of Christians for all the graces he obtained through her intercession.