Don Bosco

Orientations and implementation of Salesian schools, Rome 21 November 2014

Orientations and implementation of Salesian professional schools

Zanni Natale, sdb

Introduction

Today, professional training for technologically advanced companies is considered a strategic lever for competitiveness, an index of a country's industrial development. This was not the case in Piedmont at the time of Don Bosco. At that time vocational schools were poorly developed. Most of the vocational training was done through apprenticeship in the workshop of artisans. There was not much interest in a structured "vocational school". Don Bosco himself did not call his works dedicated to the formation of young workers "Salesian professional schools" but Laboratories, Workshops, Hospices for arts and crafts, Home for artisans [1] .They were environments in which students were taught a trade like good masons, shoemakers, blacksmiths, tailors, printers and they tried to give a cultural base and a Christian formation. The concern was to give a global education that would allow them to enter the world of work with professionalism and with a certain basic education on the dynamics of this world still very tied to a careful vision for a discourse of social justice. It was not easy also because many young people who came from Don Bosco were practically abandoned to themselves, with a very diversified education that did not allow, at least at the beginning, homogeneous interventions. For many it was important to find temporary accommodation that would allow some recovery of self-esteem,

As Don Bosco often said, it was important to train good Christians and honest citizens , capable of entering the world of work with professionalism and with a human, cultural and religious preparation to face the challenges of Piedmontese society. Don Bosco was already aware of this educational sensitivity right from the start, aimed at training competent students in their profession but also with a critical awareness of the reality of the world of work, which was rapidly evolving. Don Bosco was always attentive to social changes and tried to organize interventions with young apprentices in a flexible way, continually monitoring the situation in which he worked to grasp the changes.

Professional education in Piedmont

Historically it was not Don Bosco who first had the idea of ​​preparing students for a profession outside the world of work, outside the workshop of a craftsman in a school. In the 18th century there were some interesting experiments in the field. In 1820 Carlo Alberto, when he was not yet king of Sardinia and Piedmont, had introduced the Lancasterian schools that tried to give training to a trade albeit informally. In 1830 the Brothers of the Christian Schools introduced the metric system into the program with the related repercussions in vocational training and then in 1845 they opened the first evening technical school for young apprentices and workers. In 1949 the municipality of Turin entrusted, still to the Brothers of the Christian Schools,

Similar schools were opened outside Piedmont. But it was not the State that was interested in the problem, but enlightened and sensitive people who saw an evolving social world; a world, especially youthful, in great turmoil that demanded radical changes in society. They were religious or at least philanthropic, farsighted people who wanted to respond to social unease by considering it a potential cause of unrest, of protests and above all, for the most sensitive, a dutiful act of social justice. The Piedmontese society of that time was mainly peasant and linked to craftsmanship. Schooling was reserved for the middle class and illiteracy was widespread particularly in the rural world. Moreover, the crops of the earth did not always allow those who were not landowners a dignified life. This fact generated a certain poverty that pushed many people, especially the young, to abandon the countryside, and go in search of fortune or emigration or swelling the mass of generic workers, in the cities creating many problems of social coexistence. The industry was not very developed, particularly in the first half of the 1800s and concentrated almost entirely in the cities. At the beginning, Don Bosco had to clash with this reality and we can also understand how his first schools, laboratories, were not very structured. His speech was addressed to groups of very heterogeneous young people, fruit of that society that was not very sensitive to the precarious conditions in which the great majority of the population lived. and to go in search of fortune or with emigration or swelling the mass of generic workers, in the cities creating not a few problems of social coexistence. The industry was not very developed, particularly in the first half of the 1800s and concentrated almost entirely in the cities. At the beginning, Don Bosco had to clash with this reality and we can also understand how his first schools, laboratories, were not very structured. His speech was addressed to groups of very heterogeneous young people, fruit of that society that was not very sensitive to the precarious conditions in which the great majority of the population lived. and to go in search of fortune or with emigration or swelling the mass of generic workers, in the cities creating not a few problems of social coexistence. The industry was not very developed, particularly in the first half of the 1800s and concentrated almost entirely in the cities. At the beginning, Don Bosco had to clash with this reality and we can also understand how his first schools, laboratories, were not very structured. His speech was addressed to groups of very heterogeneous young people, fruit of that society that was not very sensitive to the precarious conditions in which the great majority of the population lived. At the beginning, Don Bosco had to clash with this reality and we can also understand how his first schools, laboratories, were not very structured. His speech was addressed to groups of very heterogeneous young people, fruit of that society that was not very sensitive to the precarious conditions in which the great majority of the population lived. At the beginning, Don Bosco had to clash with this reality and we can also understand how his first schools, laboratories, were not very structured. His speech was addressed to groups of very heterogeneous young people, fruit of that society that was not very sensitive to the precarious conditions in which the great majority of the population lived.

A certain revival in this field occurred after the middle of the century, with consequences also in the technical schools of that time. In Turin until the unification of the Italian state (1861) the main industrial activity was closely linked to silk processing. It had about 1000 frames distributed around twenty manufacturers. Then they began to see changes from the industrial point of view and in the training of personnel. In particular in 1860 the Application School for Engineers was founded which, at the beginning of the 20th century, then merged with the High School of the Industrial Museum (born in 1866) giving life to the Polytechnic of Turin. Around the eighties of the century a more visible industrial development began, highlighting the vocationthe mechanics of the city with the creation of Officine Savigliano destined for the production of rolling stock for the railways, and although the construction of the railways began around the 1940s, the workshops were a time of considerable industrial development for Piedmont. Then began the production of electric cables and in 1899, just at the end of the century, FIAT was founded which in the second half of the 20th century became the factoryof Turin. The Piedmontese society, therefore, in the first half of the 1800s did not have particular needs of workers, but of good artisans, while in the second half it changed notably and the professional training done in shop in a little structured way began to prove insufficient and not responsive to the needs of the new industries, therefore had to change considerably to meet the new needs.

Salesian professional schools at the time of Don Bosco

Don Bosco, attentive to the signs of the times, changed the approach of his interventions that went from evening meetings or holidays with unemployed immigrants looking for work, in need of a point of reference against the excessive power of employers to daytime interventions more articulated in real professional schools. Many other initiatives linked both to the industrial world and to the civil world, which became more and more present with new laws and operative proposals, contributed to increasing the will to change. Don Bosco reconsidered the problem of professional education and the training of young workers. The artisans, as the pupils of Salesian professional schools were called then,[2] .

Over time the programs of the Laboratoriesthey are more and more clearly outlined. The demand for "greater culture" in the training of the young worker made itself felt more for the new sensibilities that were born in the world of work. To respond to this sensitivity, Don Bosco directed the training of artisans towards the acquisition of a basic human and religious culture and towards the acquisition of good manual skills to make the young man safe in his profession. And in this sense it was distinguished from the technical schools of the time that conceived professional training or as a theory about the trade or as an exclusive manual skill. Shortly before the death of Don Bosco in 1887, the aim of the Salesian Congregation to formulate a religious education was formulated and made more explicit by the chapter of the Salesian Congregation.

The originality, so to speak, of Don Bosco in this field consists in the attention paid to the real problems of young people. Not interventions calibrated on the average individual but on concrete subjects. Flexible interventions attentive to the initial situation of young students. This aspect was very important because the young people who entered Don Bosco's laboratories, particularly in the early days, had a heterogeneous formation; it was therefore necessary, at least initially, a motivational and cultural recovery, creating successful situations for young people who came from a society where they had had few positive experiences both in the scholastic world and in the working world. Don Bosco wanted to give a global formation to those young people; training attentive to professionalism, but also to the recovery of cultural and religious values. It was a methodological-didactic approach that did not stop at pure manual skills or at the theory of manual work without practical training, but tried to integrate the school with work. He wanted to go beyond a model of apprenticeship conceived as a long period of preparation in the artisan's workshop, where the young man was normally used for simple tasks, sometimes not even tied to the profession and above all he did not have the possibility to recover cultural and religious values.

It should be remembered that, in the early days, the young people welcomed to Don Bosco's oratory were mostly poor young people, with very diverse personal experiences and a low level of education. This was due to many factors, but fundamentally to the ruling class of the Piedmontese society of the time, linked to the restoration wanted by the Vienna Congress of 1815, after the French revolution. It, except for some laudable exception, had an aristocratic mentality of social organization. With regard to culture in general, he had an unenlightened and democratic opinion. In fact, he believed that:

- culture must be reserved only for the few who hold power;

- education is a danger to the stability of governments.

The cultural and professional training of the working masses was therefore not a priority. Even in 1861 male illiteracy was around 75% and the female one was even higher.

The reforms that were made in Piedmont improved things, more in words than in facts and in any case in them the role of technical - professional education was still marginal. [3] Training was not seen as a right of the citizen regardless of wealth or sex, so in a politically restless and expanding industrial society the lack of education was not positive and created many problems for Don Bosco as well. to manage groups of children with a very precarious and heterogeneous initial education. He, however, proposed objectives that he achieved by successive approximations with a didactic and a flexible methodology.

Evolution of Salesian vocational schools

For D. Bosco, however, the ways in which young people were prepared for the world of work in both public and private vocational schools at the time were not satisfactory. The layout given to these schools seemed to him to be disrespectful and attentive to the reality of the youth world and therefore he experimented with alternative intervention models. "Between the ancient way of establishing working relationships between the head of the shop master with the apprentices and the new model of the technical school required by the organic law on education, Don Bosco preferred to take his third way: the one of the great laboratories owned by him, whose production cycle, of a popular school level, was also a useful training for young apprentices ". [4]  The 19th century was full of changes, sometimes rapid. The Piedmontese society, particularly its ruling class, however, did not prove very open to grasping the demands of innovation and democracy that arose from different parts of society, indeed often contrasted them. Don Bosco himself had to overcome not a few difficulties and misunderstandings both by the civil authorities and by the ecclesiastical authorities, but he succeeded in starting, in professional schools, a flexible and highly appreciated system enough to be proclaimed by Pope Pius XII, Patron of apprentices.

However, the consolidation of professional schools took place with his successors. At the death of Don Bosco the Salesian professional schools were 15 and had different educational structures and organization. Don Rua, the first successor of D. Bosco, not only thought to increase them - they reached 88 - but I also try to organize them better and changed the name of the laboratories, workshops, hospices for arts and crafts , houses of artisans , in "professional schools Salesian. " These schools increased further. In 1953, the first centenary of Salesian professional schools, they were among vocational schools and agricultural schools 263 [5]. Few works, such as vocational and agricultural schools, have had admirers and supporters and have proven themselves guessing in their structuring. Sometimes born with modest means and to respond to situations of poverty and youthful unease, they have grown and updated, almost always earning a good reception from the population and the authorities. The worldwide development of such schools over time has not always been linear, but almost always growing not in individual countries but globally. In a century from 1856, when Don Bosco founded the first internal laboratories for shoemakers and tailors in 1953 a century later, however, they had a remarkable development. Only as an example do we see development under the various successors of Don Bosco.

In 1888, the year of Don Bosco's death, he was succeeded by Don Rua: there are 15 professional schools. In 1910 Don Rua died and was succeeded by Don Albera: there were 88 professional schools. In 1922 Don Albera died and was succeeded by Don Rinaldi: the there are 102 vocational schools. In 1931 Don Rinaldi died and he succeeded Don Ricaldone: there were 147 professional schools. In 1953, as a successor, Don Ziggiotti had 263 vocational schools. rarely of decrease. In 1963 there were about 277, in 2001 (367) and nowadays about 400.

These are data that could vary slightly: it depends on how a Salesian work is cataloged, a professional school; in the different countries, however, they clearly show the trend line. After the years 1960/1970, with the development of the post-industrial society, these schools had to face the new challenges that imposed radical changes in the world of work and therefore also in professional training. They, although with many difficulties, had to adapt to technological, IT and telematic innovations and to the emergence of new skills. It was a long and sometimes expensive process, still in progress today. The world of vocational training is, even today, continually evolving to update or change activities, both for economic problems and for social problems.

 

 

Organization of vocational schools

While still living, Don Bosco felt the need to better structure these schools with unifying programs and schedules to be followed in all Salesian works that dealt with vocational training to better succeed in preparing young workers capable of overcoming the difficulties of modern civil society. without failing either justice or charity [6] .

These programs had to incorporate the demands: professional preparation and human and Christian preparation of young people. Despite the fact that there had been a number of debates about the need to give Don Bosco unified programs to these schools, it was only in 1902 that the proposals came to fruition with experimental programs, published later in a final draft in 1910. The areas of intervention and the hours to dedicate to each of them in all Salesian professional schools. They thus acquired a more defined and articulated structure, attentive to a global formation of the person in a rapidly changing society. The press of 1910 opens with a suggestive phrase that gives, in a certain way, the key to reading the publication: Coi tempi e con Don Boscoto emphasize the attention that we want to give to technological evolution and to global training. [7]

Certainly in these changes the new sensitivities on the world of work had a great influence both in the ecclesial sphere where, with the publication of the encyclical Rerum Novarumof Pope Leo XIII (1891), the attention was strongly drawn to the reality of this world and to the problems related to it, both in the civil sphere, where in 1902 he legislated about the work of women and minors; and finally, in the Salesian sphere with deliberations made by the governing bodies of the Salesian Society. Great attention was given in any case to the learning of a concrete profession, which would allow a rapid, but at the same time critical, insertion in the world of work. Sometimes it was a necessity given the type of young people who accessed it; however in most cases it was a choice made by the educators of professional schools, aware of the educational value of the experience of manual labor. This approach to vocational schools continued and continues today in most schools. There are at least two reasons for this. The first concerns the capacity for motivational recovery of manual labor, where it is necessary. The second concerns his training capacity.

However, learning a concrete profession is always seen as a part of the intervention, which must be completed by a cultural and religious formation. In these 160 years or so that separate us from Don Bosco's first laboratory, Salesian professional schools have come a long way with ups and downs. Many structures still continue to train workers; others have stopped; all however sought, and seek, to draw inspiration from an educational maxim that Don Bosco made explicit in an article drawn up in the IV General Chapter of the Salesians shortly before his death in 1886: “The purpose that the Salesian Society proposes to welcome and educate these young artisans are to raise them so that coming out of our homes, completed the training,[8] . These are indications that practically influenced the educational aims of Salesian professional schools in various parts of the world.

The festive oratory of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians for the integral education of girls (1888-1950)

Mara Borsi, fma

The formation of enterprising and responsible women in front of themselves, the family, society and the Church is the goal that directs the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians [9] in the animation of the oratories, schools, associations, training projects at work and assistance [10] .

From the origins of the Institute the oratory is an important field of promotional and educational activity, but it is not the only one. In fact, in the first fifty years of history, a remarkable diversification of works was recorded [11] ; however, it is the environment that best shows the specificity of non-formal education proposed by the FMA in different cultural contexts. More than other works, the oratory connotes the preventive activity addressed to girls, girls and young people of the popular class and potentially exposed to inconvenience and risks.

The Institute pays constant attention to the expansion and animation of this educational environment, as shown, for example, by the journal Da mihi animas [12] , and currently, the process of re-launching the oratory-youth center - Ecco your field - promoted by the Youth Ministry Sector [13] testifies to the importance of this educational environment and its constant capacity to transform and renew itself [14] .

The sources of this study are the Constitutions, the regulations, the circular letters of the General Councilors, the chronicles of some works, the unpublished documentation conserved in the General Archive of the Institute concerning the speakers and some particularly significant studies for the period of time considered in this research.

1. The FMA oratory in the wake of the charism

In the early decades of the twentieth century in Italy there are different educational experiences in the field of oratory that share the intention of providing for the Christian education of boys and girls. The Congresses of festive orators during this period are important forums for comparing current experiences that aim to identify the most effective Oratorian model [15] . Significantly, several of these conferences are organized by the Salesians [16]. In all of them the theme of the female oratory is discussed and its importance from an educational, social and religious point of view. It should be noted that in the same years the Masonic recreationists spread and a little later the socialist ones spread. Another element to keep in mind is the progressive recognition for girls of being able to take advantage of an extra domestic free time. [17]

A significant influence on the development of speakers has the orientations of Salesian superiors and superiors who succeed one another in the time frame considered by this research.

1.1. The general chapters (1884-1947)

In the deliberations of the first three General Chapters of the Institute, presented by Don Michele Rua, Don Bosco's first successor, clear references to the educational work of the oratory can be seen. The text in fact contains the Regulations for the installation and development of festive oratories at the Sisters' houses (1894) which hopes for the presence of the oratory in newly opened houses as well as in those that are already functioning and active [18] .

In 1895 the Regulation of the festive oratory is published which contains elements of affinity with the male of the Salesians and specific elements [19] . The text presents the identity and purpose of the oratory on the horizon of Christian education: the aim is the sanctification of holidays and the education of girls, especially the most abandoned and ignorant. In those of 1912 the aim is re-expressed in the following way: "To promote the good among the maidens of the people, instructing them in the practice of our Religion by gathering them on holidays and offering them honest and pleasant recreation, far from the dangers of the world" [20] .

In the General Chapters taking place in the first half of the twentieth century, attention is paid to the organizational aspects of youth associations, considered the "soul" of the oratory, to the relationship with the parish and with Catholic Action to avoid entering into competition or in conflict. The importance of using past pupils and benefactors to accompany the girls most in danger and least followed by families is recalled, to promote the Mutual Aid Fund among the young and the need to make every FMA capable of teaching catechism is reiterated in the oratory [21] .

After the Second World War the rapid changes in mentality due to the diffusion and development of the means of social communication, in particular radio and cinema, are particularly felt. The need for speakers not only festive, but daytime begins, a summer practice now quite widespread in the FMA Provinces [22] .

1.2. The circular letters (1917–1950)

The circular letters of the General Councilors (1917–1950) also propose interesting guidelines and stimuli for the care of this educational environment, considered crucial to safeguard fidelity to the spirit of Don Bosco.

Recent studies show that in the first decades of the twentieth century the widespread use of colleges attached to schools absorbed the attention of the FMA and led to a certain rigidity of criteria and method at the expense of the Salesian tradition based on the implementation of the preventive system [23 ] . Here then is the invitation on the part of the General Councilor, Elisa Roncallo [24] , to welcome and treat the Oratorians "precisely to the Salesian" so that they can provide the Institute with their contact with society and the family that benevolence which is needed. to do good [25] .

Caterina Daghero [26] , Superior General, calls the FMA to reawaken enthusiasm and commitment to the festive oratory and stresses that it is "the Salesian institution par excellence": it is not enough for every house to have an oratory, but it is necessary that it be considered really as the most important of the works. The invitation for each FMA is to dedicate oneself to the oratory "with ardor and love" so that the girls may attend it willingly. It recalls the preventive identity and the function of social regeneration [27] .

In the circulars, the General Councilors call for a reconsideration of the FMA Handbook on the festive oratory and the related regulations at the community level, recalling its social and Christian value [28] , recalling the commitment to increase it with creativity and recall that the best attraction the oratory is the gentle and sweetness of educators [29] . They also stress the importance of each FMA constantly asking God for the gift of predilection for youth, to get to know the young, to understand their disposition, their inclinations, to know how to take into account the characteristics of different ages and their diversified needs [30]. A veritable hotbed of Salesian vocations, the oratory is not a recreation center "where young girls can find the entertainment their age requires and loves; but it is a happy and yet serious school of religion and virtue " [31] .

After the Second World War, the General Councilor Carolina Novasconi [32] recommended, in the event that the oratory is connected to a college, not to absolutely mortify the educational program: “College and oratory can and must live together fraternally: participate of the same rights, enjoy the same loving care as the staff, the same predilections as those of the Superiors, and do not be charitable if only the crumbs of what is profound for the benefit of the college are left to the oratory " [33] .

The analysis of the circular letters underlines the commitment of the General Council to always keep the attention focused on the oratory, considered as the work that ensures in a privileged way the fidelity of the Institute to the Salesian charism.

2. Nature and organizational elements of the FMA oratory

In 1902, on the occasion of the Congress of Speakers, there is a significant presence of FMA at the public and ecclesial level. In that important gathering the physiognomy of the Oratory of Nizza Monferrato, located in the Motherhouse of the Institute, is outlined and, thanks to a report by Luisa Vaschetti, then provincial, also those of Argentina are presented, one of the first nations in Latin America, where the experience of the FMA women's oratory has spread [34] .

2.1. The Argentina speakers

With regard to the layout and organization of the oratory, it is essential in the various contexts to have an essential similarity in terms of spirit and method. Moreover, the Constitutions, the Manual and the regulations are detailed, with very little margin for the ambiguity of interpretations, and as we have seen, the invitations of the superiors to observe the norms are constant [35] .

In the festive oratory, Sunday is organized so that girls, preadolescents and young people can spend the day reconciling the presence in the oratory with the needs of family life. After the Eucharistic celebration, in the early morning, the girls return to the family to return later in the afternoon, which is characterized by play, walks, catechesis in groups, followed by a recreation that precedes the evening prayer. At the end of the day the girls have the freedom to stop again at the oratory before returning to the family.

The presence of youth associations or companies, considered as a school of Christian life, enriches the environment. Essays, catechetical competitions, Lenten catechisms, walks, lotteries, singing contribute to making the oratory different and attractive. The true secret of success is the good trait of educators towards girls, characterized by charity, benevolence, creativity [36] .

Luisa Vaschetti, giving an account of the 23 speakers from Argentina, attended by 4500 young people aged 7 to 25, confidently states:

"While it was found that the festive Oratory is a table of salvation both for countries such as the great centers of our Italy, I would say that for Argentina it is the most effective of the means placed by the divine Providence at the disposal of the unsafe youth to guide it to salvation. The working-class youth especially, on holidays, pours into the streets, eager for outbursts and amusements that the perversity of the times do not fail to offer on a large scale in order to reach its perfidious end: "the corruption of morals". If one of these girls finds the door of an Oratory, she is safe and happy, because she has achieved her purpose, found the games and pastimes she sought, but found them in a healthy atmosphere, and without her having any see, you will feel driven to the practice of virtue " [37] .

The chronicles of the communities of Buenos Aires, Almagro and Boca highlight the contemporary opening of the school and the oratory, the liveliness of the associative life on the model established by the official documents, activities and initiatives similar to those carried out by the Italian communities. [38] The girls who attend the oratory are generally workers in factories or in service as waitresses or students of state schools. Religious instruction is always at the center of the training proposal [39] .

In the Monograph published in 1906, which presents the Institute as the work of Don Bosco in its development and expansion in Italy and abroad, it is reiterated that the essential work that is not lacking in any of the houses is the festive oratory, place a serene and joyful meeting place for girls, an environment that keeps away from evil [40] . In the aforementioned monograph there is also a new way of being religious: the FMA are the soul of the games, they are surrounded by girls and noisy girls, they dedicate hours to deafening recreations and for this reason they are faced with different prejudices: seeing religious participate to the games of girls and girls is unusual [41] .

2.2. Differentiated roles

The key figure of the oratory is the director . Called to collaborate with the director, who is normally the parish priest or another priest in charge [42] , she is responsible for the organizational and pedagogical aspects, in particular for the formation of catechists, assistants and anyone with an office in the oratory. A particularly significant moment is the formative conference with a fortnightly or monthly deadline: it is a useful meeting to build among educators that indispensable unity of purpose and convergence that makes the environment truly educational [43] .

Next to the director there are other educational figures with clearly defined roles and tasks. Significant presences are those of the benefactors or patronesses who undertake to support the oratory economically and to follow the girls even outside the educational environment, in school life, work, trying to safeguard their dignity [44] .

The assistants of the oratory through loving vigilance maintain order and discipline in moments of prayer, during catechism, in recreation. The tasks of the catechist do not only concern the formal moment of religious instruction; it keeps itself informed about the girls' behavior and tries to set a good example in everything [45] .

To monitor attendance at the oratory, the figure of the chancellor is foreseen , who holds a general register of the oratory where the names, the data of the girls, the presences, the votes in conduct, the reasons for the definitive exit of a girl are marked from the oratory [46] .

Another role mentioned by the regulation is that of the concierge who, in addition to welcoming the girls with cordiality, controls their frequency. Attentive to those entering and leaving, it also plays a role of custody and protection in the face of families [47] .

The festive oratory is a real "microcosm, well organized and regulated by clear and verifiable norms: even if on the one hand they would seem to stifle the spontaneity that must characterize a Salesian oratory, on the other they guarantee a serene and joyful oratorian life, in an alternation of play and commitment, catechism and study, associative and recreational life " [48] .

The good performance of the oratory, and its success can be said, finds its nodal point in the educational relationship. Relationships inspired by the preventive system are the condition for achieving the goals of the project of integral education of the Salesian charism, which is expressed in a relationship of esteem and trust towards each girl, known in her personal reality. Relationships lived in an educational environment rich in stimuli, in which familiarity is lived and the aim is to involve and make the girls protagonists [49] .

3. The experience between creativity and adaptation

To make Oratorian life appear in the ordinary fabric of educational experience I use a significant and authoritative source - the Chronology of Oratories - and some studies [50] . 

3.1. The female oratory "Maria Ausiliatrice" of Turin

In the first decades of the twentieth century, the boarding school and the school established themselves in the house of Nizza Monferrato; in Turin the oratory emerges, as a typically Salesian proposal suited to the urban context. The oratory stands out for its educational intervention style compared to the changes caused by industrialization in the daily life of the girls of the popular classes.

The female oratory "Mary Help of Christians", initially named after Saint Angela Merici, has a gradual development. The most significant period is that of Don Rinaldi, director of the oratory from 1907 to 1922, and of Sister Giuseppina Guglielminotti, director from 1911 to 1917 as documented by the study of Alessia Civitelli [51] .

The inclusion of young Catholics in society passes through moral training and cultural promotion. The intense associative life, which the oratory proposes from the beginning, forms young people open to emerging social issues, educated from a religious point of view, consistent in living Christian values, aware of the importance and responsibility of their future maternal function, whether it is lived in the vocation to marriage or in the consecrated life.

Christian formation takes place through catechesis and religious practices, marked by fixed appointments during the liturgical year, and the proposal of spiritual exercises. This training is cleverly complemented by a plurality of educational proposals: evening and festive folk schools to combat illiteracy and offer a more rational education for domestic and family life, social conferences, the Filiae Sion gymnastics school , the theater, the academies, the school of singing "Maria Ausiliatrice", the walks, the awards and the parties. We also find, starting in 1909, specific initiatives for the protection of women workers such as the Labor Secretariat, the Mutual Aid Society and the Savings Bank [52] .

3.2. The Sicilian speakers

The significant documentation we have on the Sicilian speakers allows us to highlight the essential elements of this educational experience rooted in a context so different from the Piedmontese one. Maddalena Morano, head of the houses on the island, asks that brief reports be drawn up on the progress of the festive oratories, which she herself promotes and disseminates in a widespread manner [53] .

Concetta Ventura, in her documented study, notes that in Sicily the oratory opens at the same time as the other works and the strategies to start it are similar to those already experienced in Piedmont. The beginnings, however, are not easy because of the mentality of the time that wants the woman withdrawn at home and dedicated solely to the family. Workshops for the poorest girls are open in several speakers so that they can learn to sew and acquire a professionalism that allows them to earn a living. The development of speakers follows the line of adaptation to the situation of the context. In fact we find sewing and embroidery workshops rather than festive schools. The FMA with the speakers in their educational works or in the parishes try to promote quality religious education. Ignorance in this field is not only for the girls of the popular classes but in general for the whole youth population. Where the Salesians are not present, the nuns do not exist to take on children and adolescents, despite the rigid separation between the sexes present in the culture of the time.

The development of the day, the organization of the groups does not present many differences compared to those of Piedmont, but it should be noted a greater participation in the activities of the local Church and great attention to involve the best young women for the catechesis of the smallest [54] .

3.3. Fragments of life from the history of the speakers

The Chronology of Oratories offers other important elements to capture the intensity of life that takes place in this educational environment.

As for the typology, the festive oratory prevails, but there are other interesting ways. In Brescia, for example, the oratory is identified with the evening school of the good housewife and the daily laboratory for the Oratorians who have finished the elementary course [55] . At Battaglia Terme (Padua) in 1938 the oratory continued all the time [56] ; in Padua, Istituto Don Bosco, from 1920 to 1924 a summer school is active [57] ; in Lugagnano (Piacenza) the oratory is daytime and festive [58] ; in Genoa it is daily [59] .

The source generally presents the humble and poor beginnings of the different speakers, gradual development thanks to the initiative of the FMA and to the support of benefactors and patronesses [60] , alternate events, difficulties [61] .

The Chronicle also informs about the relationship and the not always easy collaboration with the parish [62] . Other difficulties reported as a cause of crisis, of less presence and participation of girls in the oratory are linked to the alternation of educators, the advent of cinema and the spread of social life [63] . The source also shows the widespread dissemination of this educational environment on the Italian territory, its location in rural and urban contexts and in these preferably in peripheral and popular neighborhoods. What we read in the History is indicativethe oratory of Genoa: “Our work still retains a popular character, as is required by the Ward in which we live, the people who attend our house and the work to which we dedicate ourselves. The population feels at his disposal at all hours of the day without time limits, this if it often costs us discomfort and disturbance, gives us the satisfaction of being able to do a little good " [64] .

At the heart of the training proposal is catechesis, addressed to the different age groups. It takes place in a path of religious and moral formation, deepened through religious schools or courses in religious culture. Among the educational and recreational activities, theater, singing, declamation and gymnastics stand out. There are numerous proposals to support the acquisition of professional skills through sewing workshops, the schools of home economics and the good housewife.

  The Chronicle of Oratories also documents the charitable and charitable activities and highlights the missionary character of the oratory [65] . In fact, in several cases the chronicles declare that sisters and girls provide their services for the catechisms of the parishes of their territory or city [66] .

The young people are the protagonists together with the educators in the educational environment and feel the oratory as their home [67] . The testimony of this oratorian is significant: "Every Sunday there was something new as if during the week the Sisters had nothing else to do but to think of us! How we liked to learn new games, find small surprises for reward and especially recite! In short, we became simple and casual little actresses and, apart from humility because it was all thanks to the Sisters, we surprised the public that we knew daughters of the people and factory workers, unable until yesterday to put together two words in Italian " [68 ] .

Conclusion

The path developed in this study delivers the image of an educational environment in search of the most suitable proposals for the education of girls, boys and young people with diversified needs. The oratory's attention to the needs coming from the world of work, education, culture and spiritual formation makes the educational environment capable of promoting the girls of the popular class and those of greater social risk at the educational level. The oratory, more than a response to an explicit request of the context, is an unpublished proposal, an initiative characterizing the identity of the FMA.

An evolving society is reflected in the microcosm of this educational environment and a committed and enterprising female world develops, in fact, a lively association. Religious practices, socialization, acquisition of skills suitable for insertion into adult life, fun, characterize an environment strongly rooted in Christian principles. With socialization, the oratory favors a certain integration between social classes. In several places the extraction of the Oratorians is not in fact homogeneous, even if the popular one prevails.

We follow a pedagogical line adhering to the needs of girls. It is the people with their needs who dictate the choices, to stimulate the creativity of the FMA who work in the oratory and pursue specific goals: to train confident young people through reflection on current issues, to initiate them into a profound spirituality, to orient them towards forms ecclesial and social associations with high apostolic value.

These objectives are achieved in various ways: weekly or monthly conferences for the members of the associations present in the oratory, formation of the leaders and consequent involvement in the proposed activities, dissemination of the good press, courses in religious culture, quality catechesis at various levels, representations theatrical, various essays with clear formative messages, participation in liturgical celebrations, care of spiritual direction, experience of associative life according to personal interests and inclinations.

In the period of time considered, the oratory is placed in the wake of the ecclesial mentality that does not cease, in comparison with social evolution, to recall the female world to its first responsibility: that of working for the salvation of the family, the basis of society and the first nucleus of the Church. Participation in social life, supported and encouraged to bring Christian values ​​into it, is always subordinated to the presence and the roles played in the family. The girls' duty to make their own contribution to domestic work is not neglected.

If by emancipation and liberation of women we intend to work so that the dignity of the person is recognized and the society is more humanized, we can certainly say that the FMA speakers have made a positive contribution to a conscious inclusion of young women in the social reality of first part of the twentieth century in remarkable ferment and change.

The type of education of the FMA oratory is based on a project inspired by Don Bosco's preventive system declined for women. As constituent elements the priority of the person and attention to growth dynamics emerge, religious formation, the pedagogy of the sacraments, the environment permeated by human and Christian values, the vocational proposal, openness to social challenges, a wise presence educational and the climate of familiarity in interpersonal relationships.

The oratory is an institution appreciated and effective from an educational point of view as indicated by its constant and gradual numerical growth since the death of Don Bosco in 1950. The official statistics of the Institute indicate that in 1908 there are 131 speakers in Europe and in America 80. In 1928 in Europe there are 255 and in America153; in 1950 in Italy we find 410 speakers, 94 in other European nations, 296 in America and 32 indicated in the "missions" heading which includes those of the works opened in Asia and Africa [69] .

The oratory is an educational environment characterized by an integral formation in which convictions of reason and faith converge, and a relational style, proper to the preventive system, aimed at humanizing the people who interact and the responsible contribution they can give to society and to the ecclesial community.

The face and mission of the Salesian educational theater

Tadeusz (Tadek) Lewicki, sdb

It is well known and studied the intuition and pedagogy of St. John Bosco to recognize the educational value of the theater and to introduce it in the daily life of the educational institutions he founded; and the activity of the Saint as an adapter-writer of theatrical works and related productions, on different occasions, has provided an excellent example for the Salesian educators who followed in the footsteps of the founder in their theatrical activities, both as writers and as directors, or to use the expression of the constitutions of that time, as directors of the theater.

The present study would like to be an ideal continuation of the research started on the occasion of the Congress dedicated to Don Michele Rua (Turin 2009), focusing on some aspects of the Salesian educational theater, more specifically on the works of the most prolific author between 1884 and 1914, that is, of Don Giovanni Battista Lemoyne. He was entrusted with the editorial care and direction of the series "Dramatic Readings", for which the study of the dozens of dramas and comedies published under his direction could give an answer to the subject of my essay. What aspect of the Salesian educational theater emerges from the works then published and represented, and how could we outline, today with a historical distance, the characteristics of its educational mission, in the moral ethical sense wanted by Don Bosco? Which communicability of different contents reaches the boys-protagonists and actors of the Salesian theater and the internal public, that is, composed of peers-spectators, and the external public, that is, participating in the theatrical performances offered for the local communities in which the speakers and schools operated Salesian? One aspect of the mission of the Salesian theater is the social aspect, from the perspective of the most recent paradigms on theatrical studies that would like to rediscover the social incidence of contents, of the performative modalities characterizing this type of theater. If the study of contents is greatly facilitated thanks to the collection of texts, otherwise the problem of representation appears. The chronicles of the houses,

Distinct features of the Salesian educational theater between 1884 and 1918 [70]

In the period that interests us we observe the significant passage from the form known as "theater" to the now theatrical forms, closer to the philodramatic model. This passage is mainly due to the dramaturgical seriousness of the works represented, even in the case of comedies. The dramas published above all in the series "Letture Drammatiche" but, in some cases, also from other Salesian publishing centers sprung up in that period, are now full-bodied works, with a well-elaborated dramaturgy, with significant themes ranging from biblical adaptations, through stories hagiographic of ancient Christianity, to historical dramas dedicated to the great figures of Christianity (also in Latin), up to the dramas that we could call social with ethical-moral intent and dramas dedicated to the missionary activities of both the Salesians and the Catholic Church. The repertoire of the Salesian theater also included the adaptations of known theatrical works and opera, but edited according to the possibilities of a youth theater for male boarding schools.

Another distinctive trait is the institutionalization of theatrical activities within the educational works, begun already by Don Bosco, but seriously developed by the figures responsible for the theater understood both as guides of the companies, and as curators of theatrical rooms. The Piedmontese model of the Salesian college, exported to various parts of the world, contained in its architecture real theatrical rooms with backstage, dressing rooms, technical equipment and wardrobe. In many cases of speakers and colleges it is possible to reconstruct a real seasonal proposal for theaters that also involved an ad intra and ad extra organizationactivities. In some speakers, above all in the houses of Northern Italy, philodramatic companies were born, composed of ex-pupils and Salesian cooperators. The congresses of the cooperators, in their final documents, underlined the theatrical activity, cultural as a very important field of the mission of the cooperators in the civil society.

The perspective of educational theatrological studies borders on the field of studies on Salesian communication, however always oriented to the education of young people, more specifically to religious education and in many cases ethical-social dramas to civic education. The theatrical activities of that period were also characterized by a significant aesthetic-artistic level of the productions, often enriched by specially composed music. A very special kind of Salesian educational theater was also born: the operetta, whose representation involved young actors, theatrical technicians and musicians. The publishing for cultural use included, besides the dramatic works, also the publications of the scores signed by different composers and masters of the Salesian environment and not only.

The analytical reading of the most popular dramas of the time reveals that dramaturgical writers realized in the proposed contents the fundamental principle of Don Bosco's "theater", that is, they represented the emblematic figures, exemplary in Christian behavior ready to sacrifice, healthy in moral conduct, responsible of others, above all of evangelization and civil progress. The positive figures of the represented adults corresponded to the principle of preventing and not repressing according to the educational thought of Don Bosco (the opinion expressed above all in the studies of Don Pietro Braido).

The young protagonists of the dramas lived their lives as teenagers increasingly responsible for their own personal decisions, sometimes going through moments of conversion that represented the dramatic highlight of the works. The dialogues between young people and adults, the positive figures in the dramas, echoed dialogues written by Don Bosco himself which concerned the defense of the Catholic faith and its true representation in the face of the threats deriving from the enemies of the Catholic Church and from the ignorance of the so-called pagan peoples.

The theatrical representation in the life of the college and civil society was traditionally included in the various religious and civil holidays. It was, after the liturgical celebration, the true center of the feast preceded by interventions of the religious and civil authorities and concluded with a final comment by the authorities of the college and / or oratory in a moral ethical key derived from the representation.

At that time the Salesian congregation opened its homes in many countries of Europe, in the Middle East and in various countries of Latin America and Asia. In the construction of many colleges dominated the model now experimented in Italy and composed of school buildings, interiors, the inner chapel or the parish church and the theater hall, also prepared for the musical activities of the works. The new houses were opened above all by those who had been trained in the houses of Piedmont and thus brought with them the experience of doing theater both in the style of work and above all in the dramatic literature proposed in that period, often translated into national languages.

It can even be noted that the Salesian educational theater of that period, 1880-1918, from the point of view of the repertoire is very homogeneous: many works, above all dedicated to the education and training of the children of Italian emigrants in different countries, also taught the Italian language and literature. Italians were also taught in formation houses. Thus, some popular dramas in Italy have been represented in Italian abroad, provoking a real appreciation especially in the civil societies of immigrants. In some cases, where the Salesian theater began to use the local (national) language, in complicated socio-political situations, theatrical representation in one's own language was perceived as a sign of resistance, of national identity.

Most significant contents of the works of the Salesian educational theater

The dramatic works published in that period and popular on the stages of the Salesian theater belonged to the pens of many Salesian authors: let us pause, in this essay, on two most significant authors: Fr Giovan Battista Francesia and Fr Giovanni Battista Lemoyne. The first remains important in the history and mission of the Salesian theater for his works in Latin (for a linguistic analysis of the style of Don Francesia and in part of the contents, we refer to the article by Roberto Spataro “Giovan Battista Francesia author of theater Latin ", in" Salesianum "74/2 (2012), pp. 277-305).

Don Francis Desramaut dedicated his studies to the life and work of Don Lemoyne in his doctoral dissertation, later published as "Les Memoirs I by John the Baptist Lemoyne: étude d'un ouvrage fundamental on the jeunesse de saint Jean Bosco" (Lyon , Maison d'Études Saint Jean Bosco, 1962). His main objective was the study of Don Lemoyne as co-author of the "Biographical Memoirs" of St. John Bosco. The novels and dramas find in that search just a hint and a few pages of attention.

Don Francesia the Latin drama

Don Giovanni Battista Francesia (1838-1930), a graduate in Literature at the University of Turin, distinguished himself in Latin studies, is characterized by Salesian historians as a prolific and versatile writer in the various literary forms. For the theater he composed a whole series of works in Latin. Some works, named by the author 'actio dramatica', are very short and dedicated to the great figures in the history of the Church. We remember their titles: De s. Aurelio Augustino drama actio in duas partes distincta  (1886),  Leo I  (1888),  Leo III (1892). The last two have been successfully represented on various jubilee occasions by Pope Leo XIII and the Holy Year. The "Leo I" was set to music by don Raffaele Antolisei and transformed into a melodrama. These dramas resumed the most important moments in the history of the Church faced by two popes: the invasion of the Huns and the Roman peace achieved by Leo the Great in the fifth century and, in the second case, the painful persecution of Leo III by his opponents, the miracle and meeting of the Pope with Charlemagne in which forgiveness and Christian clemency win.

Other dramas have been dedicated to the figures of the young martyr saints of Christian antiquity: Ephisius, actio dramatica plautinis versibus conscripta (1895, later translated and published in Italian), Saturio , comoedia latinis versibus conscripta  (1897?), Tarcisius, actio dramatica versibus senariis conscripta (1907), Euplius, actio dramatica versibus senariis conscripta (1911). The educational purpose of offering young people examples of fidelity to the point of sacrificing their lives for the Christian faith in times of persecution under Diocletian is clear.Ephisius tells the story of the conversion, of the martyrdom of the commander of the Roman army sent by the emperor Diocletian against the Christians.

The great event in the Christian history of Rome, the arrival of Constantine and his personal adherence to the Christian faith, expressed in a long monologue in the third act are represented in the drama Ad Romam, actio dramatica versibus Plautinis composita et in tres actus distributa , in to which Fr Francesia, inspired by the great Roman playwright Plautus, largely tells the story in the soldiers' dialogue (Act II and Act III), thus making the drama more popular in expression.

 The author used an interesting dramaturgical intent in the drama Ad Golgotam, sacra actio dramatica versibus senariis conscripta  (1910), narrating the story of the passion of Jesus Christ through the prism of the betrayal of Judas and his struggle with the devil Barbaal. The positive thread and the growing faith is instead led through the vicissitudes of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.

The plays of Fr Francesia represent the successful attempt to make educational theater in a didactic key, not only with historical contents, based on research in ancient sources of Christian history, but offering a valuable aid to the teaching of the Latin language. These works were written during the author's most active period, that is, his teaching in various Salesian schools. The dramatic structure of these actiones is well balanced, built from lively dialogues, with monologues of the protagonists full of pathos. The inspiration of Plautus ( imitatio plautina ) is clear, which in an active way helps to know the genre of drama according to the canons of ancient Greek and Roman drama.

Don Lemoyne is the educational drama par excellence

Our author, Giovanni Battista Lemoyne (1839-1916) writer and playwright, is generally recognized as the first historian and later biographer of San Giovanni Bosco. His biographers (Francis Desramaut, Eugenio Valentini, Pietro Stella) have dedicated numerous pages to his historical work, to his language and style, only by mentioning fiction and theatrical works. Through brief comments they recognized their educational, ethical and moral values ​​in a Salesian key and in full agreement with Don Bosco's pedagogical insights.

After years of educational and training work, in 1883 Don Lemoyne joined the Saint of Turin and dedicated his life to the activities of historical writer, editor of magazines but he also wrote and published dramas first in the "Letture Cattoliche" and then in the series "Readings Drama "wanted by Don Bosco and entrusted to him.

His dramas are distinguished by the variety of themes undertaken, by the mature dramaturgical construction, the psychological depth of the characters and by the lively and so captivating dialogues for the young actors, directed by him and by other Salesians, who put them on the stages of Italy, Salesian Europe and colleges in the lands of Salesian missions.

The themes of the dramas vary: from biblical events ( David anointed king ) to those inspired by the New Testament ( Prodigal Son, The painting of the Madonna , The onomastic of the mother ), the stories of the martyrs of the persecutions of the first centuries of Christianity ( Sant ' Eustachio, Vibio Sereno, Seiano, Le Pistrine), the dramas dedicated to historical events and characters, in some cases well documented ( Christopher Columbus ), in others leaving more space to the poetic licentia ( Guilt and forgiveness ), to end with the dramas that They told the adventures of the missionaries ( A hope, or the past and the future of Patagonia). In his repertoire there is no lack of comedies that cheerfully depict human deficiencies and enjoyed great popularity both among the young actors and among their audience ( Who does good, well finds ; Who sleeps does not catch fish ).

Particular attention deserves an allegorical cantata dedicated to Don Bosco for his 1888 name day, unfortunately never seen by the Saint (he died on 31 January 1888). This short work entitled L'Officina Amore e Riconenza , embellished by the compositions of the maestro Giovanni De Vecchi, was later known also with the title Giovanni, the factory , with the specification of the genre "melodramma".

His works were performed by Salesian students all over the world. In short, we only want to point out the contents of the works of that playwright-father of the Salesian educational theater.

The five-act drama, entitled Le Pistrine (The Triumph of Religion), is set in Christian Rome in the fourth century and narrates the slavery, rebellion and triumph of the Christian faith; some parts have been set to music and sung. Another work, Sant'Eustachio , narrated the history of Christian martyrs and offers young people an example of youthful faith ready for sacrifice and faithful to Christian ethical and moral principles. The definition of "grandiose sacred drama" was assigned by the critics of the time to the drama Seiano (composed in five acts), also set in Roman Christian antiquity.

Don Lemoyne revealed love for history and a certain poetic vein in the play Colpa e perdono , set in the east of the 16th century: the action becomes lively in many protagonist-actors, warriors and pirates, and the drama has become very popular for its adventurous nature, pleasant for young people.

Following the biography of Christopher Columbus (1892), in 1993 (published in 1894) Don Lemoyne also wrote the drama dedicated to the great Genoese. The adventures follow one after the other and in such an attractive but historically well documented way: the work narrates the 'discovery' of America also offering a picture of the main protagonists, and has been enriched by the cantatas composed by the maestro Giovanni Dogliani and for decades reigned on Salesian stages.

The Salesian missionary spirit of those years found correspondence in the play La Patagonia , which initially bore the title A Hope, or Patagonia's Past and Future . Also this work was written in a historical key to adventure and a certain pleasant poetic freedom in the youth theater.

Don Lemoyne's works include comedies ( Giandujotto in college ), short comic sketches, comic poems often recited during the festivities in Salesian institutions.

This essay is intended as a trace for further research dedicated above all to the work of Don Giovanni Battista Lemoyne. The next paper written for the publication will be dedicated to the theatrological analysis of the dramas, hoping that the subsequent research, in the archives of the oldest Salesian houses, may also offer a picture of the activities of the Salesian theater in the civil communities.

The FMA and the education of young women in North-East India

A historical study of the thirty years: 1923 - 1953

Bernadette Sangma, fma

INTRODUCTION

This article is a presentation of the study on the first thirty years (1923 - 1953) of the presence and installation of the Salesian charism in the north east of India. The first group of six FMA missionaries [71] came to this region on 8 December 1923. [72] Over the years, taken into consideration in this study, there were eight foundations, of which seven were scattered in different parts of the northern region east and one in the adjacent state of West Bengal.

The article aims to focus the study on the foundations, on the consolidation and growth of the educational works of the FMA with special attention to the performance of educational services and to the human promotion of children, girls, young women and women of the class poorer and rural areas.

1. The FMA in the north east of India

The role played by the FMA in the missions of north-eastern India emerges from the many reports made on the life and growth of local churches in the region. Of particular importance and significance is the letter of Mons. Stefano Ferrando entitled: The Salesian Sister on a mission. [73] Referring to one of the communities, the letter offers a precise view of the various evangelizing and catechizing activities of the missionary FMA. It first of all underlines the systematic visits to the villages as a double-edged initiative allowing the FMA to play the role of precursors of the same Salesian priests in the kerygmatic mission and in the sustained process of evangelizing education and catechesis of the new Christians of remote villages in the remote areas of the region . 

In the period in which the FMA arrived in northeastern India, education, even at primary level, was the privilege of a few semi-urban inhabitants who could afford it. The scenario was worse with regard to the education of girls and women, especially in rural areas. The FMA together with the Sisters of the Congregations of Loreto (IVBM) and the Daughters of Our Lady of the Missions (RNDM) can be considered pioneers in the education of young women in the region.

2. The role of the FMA in the field of education

The educational mission of the eight communities scattered in the various parts of north-eastern India and West Bengal has taken on various institutional forms. Each community was designed to respond to the urgent needs of the context in which it was located. From the point of view of ethnic diversity, the communities were included among the different populations belonging both to the various ethnic-cultural groups and to the Indian majority. Thus, each community was implanted in a context that carried specific characteristic traits with regards to culture, tradition, language and customs. This involved learning a language, different customs and traditions in each of the communities.

However, some common characteristics could be noted in the whole region such as: the general condition of illiteracy, the educational demand especially in the female world, the almost total lack of health care services. The entire region suffered from the lack of schools and the consequent general illiteracy; but the situation was worse especially for women and girls and for rural populations. Moreover, the region was pervaded by many infectious and, in many cases, deadly diseases. Hinting only at one of the consequences of this situation, it is important to remember the high mortality of the mothers that caused the existence of numerous orphans.

In such a context, the FMA response necessarily had to take various forms. However, it must be affirmed that the privileged attention was directed to the foundation of schools and to the physical, cultural and educational care of the orphans. To this end, the FMA have opened orphanages, especially for girls, formal schools for girls, offering a priority option for rural areas, which would never have had the opportunity to access such educational opportunities. The choice made necessarily required the establishment of boarding schools to meet the need for food and lodging for both formal schools and vocational schools. It is impressive to note the priority given to the education and cultural empowerment of rural young women and girls since the early years of the presence of the FMA in the region.

The initiatives in favor of adult women constituted the other side of the coin in complementarity with the formal and professional education of girls and young women. While the younger generations entered formal and professional education, the adult generations of the villages were recipients of informal actions aimed at improving the quality of life on a personal level, the care of children, families and communities in general.

2.1. Schools for formal education

The field of work, in which the communities have invested more energy, creativity and personnel, has undoubtedly been the organization of formal schools. The momentum towards opening schools considered as an indispensable means of improving people's living conditions can also be measured by the efforts to organize more than one school by various communities. For this reason the sisters have bravely faced the obstacles posed by distance, harsh weather conditions, lack of personnel and financial support. It is moving to note the funding research effort described by the Jowai community for the construction of the second school. The chronicle describes the situation in these terms:

Our purse is empty, there remain Rs.10 with which to face all the expenses up to the end of the month. At home we have nothing more ... we also sold our personal items. "Stockings, sweaters, underpants, Sottane ... Let us pray ... Today Our Lady will also want to console us who are her daughters ... She who aroused Salesian work today, will also help us ... Please, yes he prays again and resolves to give the only Catholic in the village of Mentadu [sic!] miserable 8 Rs, with whom to provide some bamboo to start building the school, promising that we would give him another 12 to the finished work. .. Our wild, satisfied, immediately begins the construction of the school in a given ground purposely ceded for the school by Rangbah . [74]

Teaching in schools was mainly carried out in the local languages: Hindi, Assamese, Khasi, Bengali, taking on the challenge of organizing them in a language they barely knew. The courage to face these challenges almost with an exciting naturalness and the creative method emerge from one of the letters of Sr. Giulia Berra to Mother Luisa Vaschetti:

«... but you know, my beloved Mother, that my time is taken by assault: in the morning I have Assamese lessons in three sections of students, which are 48; and in the afternoon I teach Hindi in two sections of 16 students. Then, now, I must also teach a little Hindi to the newly arrived Sisters, I am in charge of preparing the tables for teaching reading in the Assamese language, and I am still without the Dictionary to explain the reading. I'll fix it as best I can; Our Lady makes up for what is missing to me and so far, the Authorities who visited us have been very satisfied with the progress of our students and our teaching method. They had special words of praise for this and for the progress of the girls in writing and drawing. I have already prepared eight folders with figures, under each figure, the letter in colors. But I would need sixty at least, that is as many as there are simple letters; and the same thing I should do for Hindi. But time passes here even faster than in Italy. I wanted to send you one of the texts used here in the school, so that you can get an idea of ​​these languages, but I can't send you anything other than a page of a syllabar script ".[75]

From the aforementioned letter, the appreciation and recognition of the civil authorities for the surprising organizational efficiency already emerge from the first years of the beginning of the different schools. In addition, some communities immediately launched schools in English. The school in English, which began as Sr. Maria Bricarello in Guwahati, had shaky moments due to her untimely death in less than two years after arrival, since she was the only one who spoke and understood English. Other schools in English have been started by the communities of Dibrugarh and Bandel since the early days, while in other communities these schools were launched only later. 

2.2. Short teaching period in secondary school and in the female college of Guwahati

Beyond the opening of formal schools by communities, an interesting and rich field for its context was the educational involvement of some sisters in government high schools. The request made by the government itself is first of all the sign of the recognition of educational competence and the positive image created in less than twenty years of presence in the place. The willingness of the FMA to accept and undertake the task almost immediately is impressive.

The first time the FMA were required to teach in the governmental secondary school and in the female faculty affiliated to the University of Calcutta [76] both in Guwahati was the month of August 1941. The teaching subjects entrusted to them were: English , Home Economics, Cutting and Sewing, Sacred Scripture, Rhetoric and Metric.

The echoes of the Second World War and the Indian Independence movement constituted the greatest obstacle in giving continuity to these promising and enriching services. In fact, on November 29, 1942, the principal of the college was obliged to request the dismissal of the FMA as a preventive measure in order to avoid consequences that could have been worse. [77]

2.3. Professional schools for girls and young women

Vocational schools were founded primarily for older girls and young women who had passed school age. The main purpose of these schools was to offer basic skills in the field of literacy, that is: reading, writing, calculation, together with the purchase of some professional skills, basic knowledge of the household economy, health, hygiene and above all education to the faith. The different training areas were: weaving, sewing, embroidery and knitting.

This school began in 1924 in Guahati. The second vocational school was opened by the Jowai community. The chronicle of 8 May 1926 underlines the fact that, despite the absolute lack of means, the community has launched itself into the construction of a hall in which it was possible to start the professional school, on 1 October of the same year, with 12 young people. Unfortunately, there is no documentation on the professional school in Tezpur. From the chronicles it emerges, however, that it is one of the main activities of the community, which began as early as the first week of the arrival of the FMA on the spot. The other professional school began in October 1940 at Mawlai - Shillong.

2. 4. Training of nurses in the hospitals of Guwahati and Ganesh Das

From the various writings of the FMA we note that the mission serving the two hospitals of Guwahati and Shillong was not easy. The lack of personnel to deal with many tasks, especially in the context of cleaning the environment and the care of patients, weighed heavily on the nuns. The spirit with which the FMA lived their service attracted great respect from patients and above all from the authorities. A form of formative recognition of their presence can be measured by the request made to them to follow the practical training of the students. [78] This decision was certainly a sign of the appreciation both of their nursing competence and of their educational abilities.

The same request was also made in the Ganesh Das hospital in Shillong, in which, one year after the start of hospital service, the educational organization of the nursing school was entrusted to the FMA. The offer was accepted with a great sense of responsibility and with the knowledge that it could offer great opportunities for the young students of the school. [79]

Conclusion

The study of the first thirty years of the history of the FMA in north-eastern India shows that pioneers were animated by a strong charismatic educational momentum. Theirs was a story of great passion, of freshness of energy, enthusiasm and missionary sense. It is observed that they embarked on this mission with incomparable zeal, without calculating the needs and the sacrifices it entailed.

In almost all the missionary centers opened by the FMA, in the first years of their arrival in the region, they were the first religious to follow the thresholds of those places. Considering the fact that the majority of young women in schools and boarding schools came from rural areas, the FMA together with the Congregation of Mary Queen of the Missions ( Queen of the Missions ), can be considered the first ever to be committed to education and the promotion of young people and women in rural areas in the region.

From the early days of arrival until today, the FMA have played the role of pioneer in the various contexts of North East India in the education of women and young women. The study of the educational role of the FMA, therefore, is an integral part of the study of the history of education in general in the region and of the education of women and young people in particular.

Meaningful educational experiences

of the Salesians in India from 1906 to 1951-1952

Scaria Thuruthiyil, sdb

Introduction

In the missionary dream, which Don Bosco made on April 9, 1886, he saw his sons working in Calcutta.

Don Bosco founded the Salesian Society in 1859 and, at the time of his death, in 1888, there were more than a thousand Salesians working in 57 institutions in Italy, France, Spain, England, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. The first Salesian missionary expedition was sent to Argentina in 1875. In 1876 and 1877, after his visits to Pope Pius IX, Don Bosco seriously thought of sending his sons to India, to take possession of the apostolic vicariate of Mangalore. But Don Bosco failed to carry out this project due to lack of personnel. 

Don Bosco's fame as educator of the young, especially the poorest and most abandoned, spread far and wide, as well as in Italy, in Europe and in some Latin American countries. In 1883-1884, Monsignor Goethals, apostolic vicar of Calcutta, invited Don Bosco to take care of an orphanage in Giridih (Bihar). It was a very attractive offer, but Don Bosco could not accept, just for lack of personnel. It was after several years of correspondence, as well as personal contacts and negotiations, first between Bishop Antonio de Souza Barroso of the Padroado diocese of Mylapore and then, after his death in 1899, among his successor, Mons. Teotonio Manuel Ribeiro Vieira de Castro , who had personally known Don Bosco at Mathi in 1885, and Don Rua in Turin on December 19, 1904,They went to Tanjore (which was part of the Diocese of Mylapore), a province of the Presidency of Madras, India, on January 14, 1906, to take possession of an orphanage with the attached elementary school (St. Francis Xavier) and a school technique (S. Saverio Industrial School).

In this intervention I intend to present some of the salient features of the Salesian educational experiences in India from the beginning of their presence, that is from 1906 to 1951-1952, based on the available historical documents. In a word, we can say that the Salesian missionaries, who were invited and sent to manage some existing works: orphanages, elementary and high schools, and technical schools (vocational, orientation), turned them into iterations of Valdocco, walking on in the footsteps of Don Bosco and following the educational charism transmitted by Don Bosco to his children. In the same way, each new presence, started for elementary and high school students, as well as for students of technical schools, was permeated with the same spirit as Valdocco. The preference was always for orphans and poor boys, and for disadvantaged young people, most of whom were Christians. In all the missionary centers / stations in which the Salesians were involved in the mission of evangelization (preaching, conversion, baptism, teaching of catechism and other pastoral ministries) there existed and still exist schools today, from the elementary to the superior , often with boarding schools for children, especially for young people who attended vocational and / or technical schools. Many of these colleges were annexed to the residence of the Salesians, and in all these centers / institutes, the spirit of Valdocco reigned and still reigns. The first Salesian missionaries were imbued with the spirit of Valdocco and transmitted that spirit wherever they went and wherever they were present. I have had the fortune and the joy of knowing and living with some of the first Salesian missionaries and they are a fruit and a witness of their educational presence in India.

1. Schools :. elementary, middle and high schools and technical schools

Salesian missionaries left for India with two specific purposes, in harmony with the charism transmitted by Don Bosco: 1. education of the young and 2. evangelization of peoples, aimed not only at pastoral ministry and taking care of the faithful (Catholics) of the dioceses and parishes entrusted to them, but to the first evangelization: direct announcement / proclamation of the Word of God, focusing on Jesus Christ and his Gospel to the non-Christians, who for the most part belong to various tribal ethnic groups, on their conversion and baptism. In the field of evangelization the Salesian missionaries were men full of missionary zeal, who had risked everything, including health (some of whom died young even in the first years of their arrival and missionary commitment), like Saint Paul, to preach Jesus Christ and his Gospel. They were men of great faith in Jesus Christ, Mary Help of Christians and Don Bosco. They have had great success; the number of converts increased, Christian communities flourished; new centers and new parishes were opened; new dioceses were entrusted to the Salesians. (A true miracle of evangelization, perhaps one of the greatest in the recent history of the church?).

Education of young people, especially poor and abandoned children, was the primary objective of Salesian missionaries who arrived in India. Indeed, it is noteworthy that the first Salesian missionary expedition, in 1906, was in Tanjore, to take possession and manage an already existing work: an orphanage (boarding school), with an annexed elementary school and technical school (orientation), and this for a specific and explicit reason, that is, that the Salesians were known to be good educators, that they had and put into practice a particular system of education which they had received as a charism from their Father and Founder Don Bosco. And Don Bosco had dedicated his whole life to educating and taking care of young people, especially the poorest and most abandoned with the aim of training them as "

In an analogous form the original project of the Salesians in different parts of India, especially in the cities (Don Bosco Liluah in Calcutta - Kolkata -, St. John in Bandel, Don Bosco in Krishnagar, Don Bosco in Tardeo, Don Bosco in Matunga-Bombay, Don Bosco in Velletri, St. Liceo Maria and the School of St. Gabriel in Madras, etc.) was to impart education especially to poor and abandoned children. In reality, an orphanage and a technical school were annexed to almost all the schools that the Salesians accepted. The Salesians were invited to reactivate, renew and improve these works both in terms of quantity and quality, transforming them into good schools, precisely Don Bosco schools , such as the Valdocco school, putting into practice the Educational System (Preventive System) transmitted by Don Bosco.

In fact, Don Bosco schools soon qualified among the best schools in India, not only for the number of students they attended (number of day scholars from 500-1000-1500-2000 and more, boardersfrom 50-100-150-200), but also for academic results, discipline, good conduct and for many other extracurricular activities. Even today, most Salesian schools in India, in competition with public and private schools, are at the top of the list for curricular and extra-curricular activities. In fact, it has been and still is more difficult to obtain admission for children and young people to Don Bosco schools than to get a good job. Likewise, even the technical schools of Don Bosco were considered among the best and most of them had received the official recognition of the State, and the pass-outsstudents have easily found jobs in various businesses, companies and other sectors. Even those who had only completed some training in a non-formal technical profession could find jobs.

The vast majority of the students of the boarding school, who attended Salesian schools, especially those in the cities, were Catholics, especially Anglo-Indians, but there were also Protestants, Jews, Hindus and Muslims, such as in the Don Bosco school in Liluah, Kolkata. Most day scholars, on the other hand, were non-Christians: Hindus, Muslims and others. In the same way, many of the Salesian school teachers were lay people, Catholics, some of them Salesian Cooperators, and non-Catholics (Hindus and Muslims). St. John's High School, annexed to Bandel Church, for example, as highlighted in the report (report of the Extraordinary Visitation) of Don Candela in 1937, was practically in the hands of the teachers, who were all Hindus and Muslims.

The Salesians had a particular fondness for young people in technical schools (technical school = vocational training school), most of whom were Christians, orphans and / or poor, who needed technical and / or professional training, in order to get jobs, necessary to fit into normal social and political life. The addresses offered were mainly those of mechanics: turner, fitter, driller, auto-mechanics and others such as: electrical engineering, carpentry, cabinet making, printing and bookbinding. An interesting aspect was that young people, while learning a trade, also contributed to some monetary gain for the school itself. For example, the Salesians, like Don Bosco, knew the importance of the apostolate of the press and in 1924 they opened a printing house in the technical school of Tanjore, and many of the typography students were orphans. The typography (of Don Bosco Technical School, Tanjore) printed and published Catholic literature, at the request of the dioceses, parishes, schools, single persons, etc .; also undertaken print jobs ordered by various government departments of the state, such as for example government, decrees, ordinances, sentences, publications for railways, etc. This was an important means of advertising also for the Salesians: for example, the also undertaken print jobs ordered by various government departments of the state, such as for example government, decrees, ordinances, sentences, publications for railways, etc. This was an important means of advertising also for the Salesians: for example, the also undertaken print jobs ordered by various government departments of the state, such as for example government, decrees, ordinances, sentences, publications for railways, etc. This was an important means of advertising also for the Salesians: for example, thethe life of Don Bosco and the life of Domenico Savio , translated into Tamils ​​by a certain Mr. TS D'Sami, were printed and published. The typography has a privileged place among the addresses of the Salesian technical schools (for example, Don Bosco Technical School in Shillong, the Catholic Orphan Press / COP in Calcutta, etc.). The Salesians used the printing of their technical schools for their publications: books, pamphlets, pastoral literature, diocesan magazines and newspapers, Salesian news, the Salesian bulletin, etc.

A special feature of the technical schools was to take care of the humanistic formation of the students and, for this reason, the Salesians invented the Don Bosco Night School (evening school). Gradually, with vocational training, in the evening school, students received a general education in the various courses managed for them, such as English, sociology, economics, geography, history, human education, etiquette, religious education, theater, music, etc. For example, already in 1910, Don Mederlet started the Don Bosco Night School, in which technical school students, after technical training courses, received regular general education courses in the evening, which lasted from 5.30 pm to 8.00 pm. Similar evening courses became a particular feature also in the other Salesian technical schools, such as,

Another interesting and important aspect of the Salesian educational commitment was that in practically every missionary center (parishes and villages) entrusted to the Salesians - for example, almost in every village or at least in every parish of Tanjore, Mylapore, Shillong and North - East India, Calcutta, Krishnagar, Madras and Bombay - there were at least elementary schools, often middle schools and even high schools for Christian children (and not only) of the villages, who were poor, many belonging to the lower castes (dalit , scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, Other Backward Classes - OBC). Practically, in every Salesian parish residence there was a boarding school for children, who attended public or private schools during school hours and for the rest spent time in the boarding school,

The education of young people was the absolute priority of every Salesian presence.

2. Educational method (Preventive System)

What could have been the reason for the vast growth and expansion of Don Bosco schools in India in such a short time? The answer lies in the educational method that the Salesians followed. In imparting education to children the Salesians put into practice the Preventive System, the educational method transmitted by Don Bosco. This characteristic, specific to the Salesian charism, was the main reason for the Salesians to have been invited to take or start new schools. The Salesians were known as good educators endowed with a particular spirit and method, experts above all in the offer of professional training (technical schools), and this was the main reason for being called to the mission of the schools. Don Bosco's educational method, an absolute novelty, put into practice by the Salesians,

The Salesians transformed their schools, particularly orphanages and boarding schools into educational communities where the preventive system of Don Bosco, based on reason, religion and kindness, reigned supreme. Both Salesians and children interacted with each other; Salesian assistance, carried out with children in the traditional roles of a Salesian community - director, prefect bursar, catechist, prefect of studies, assistants - became emblematic and felt they were forming a family. The boys felt they were loved, the foundation of the preventive system and the basis of every success. The Salesians loved their boys and in return they honored and loved them as fathers and older brothers.

3. Schools imbued with the spirit of Valdocco

In every school, especially in boarding schools, the Salesians sought to actualize the spirit of Valdocco in the field of education and training. Thus, for example, when the Salesians took over the responsibility of the orphanage San Thome Orphanage in Mylapore, which had existed for over a century and was intended for Anglo-Indian children, on 10 January 1909, there were only 30 boys, who lived in conditions very poor and precarious. The three Salesians immediately began to manage the orphanage in the Salesian manner, following Don Bosco's method of education, which included, among other things, the time of daily prayer, participation in Holy Mass, the blessing of the Blessed Sacrament every Sunday, the daily recitation of the holy rosary, the frequent confession and communion, catechism teaching, including catechism competitions, preparation for the first communion and for the other sacraments; solemn liturgical celebrations, with a procession of songs, band music, fireworks, etc., in the feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary (above all of the Immaculate Conception, of the Assumption and of Mary Help of Christians), of Corpus Christi - all of which they were important and dear to Don Bosco and therefore also to the Salesians, and, of course, the solemn celebration of the feast of Don Bosco (January 31 after his canonization)! Thus the Salesians brought a new life for the children of the orphanage and in the technical school. They transformed them into communities (houses) where the boys and Salesians lived together as a family. Year by year the number of boys increased from 50 (1907) to 180 (1924). Naturally the Salesians have not spared, indeed they have done everything possible to improve the food, meet the material needs of the children (clothes, shoes, handouts, etc.), repair, improve, enlarge, build new buildings necessary for their home and for school. These were the commitments of the Salesians not only in the orphanage of Mylapore, but in all the other Salesian centers.

Thus, for example, in the first year of their arrival in Shillong, in 1922, the Salesians were entrusted, together with the parish, the orphanage (St. Anthony's Orphanage), which had been managed by the Congregation of the Holy Cross until then, and the former technical school which was run by the Salvatorians. In a short time, the orphanage S. Antonio was transformed into a house of Don Bosco imbued with Salesian spirit and customs. Apart from those mentioned, there were also other usual practices in every Salesian house (Valdocco and others in Italy) such as the evening prayer followed by the "good night", the hanging paintings of Mary Help of Christians on the walls of the classrooms, the hall of study etc. The boys were exhorted to recite the traditional three Hail Marys before going to bed, to wear a medal of Mary Help of Christians around the neck,

Such was the Salesian spirit, precisely that of Valdocco, which permeated all the other schools of Don Bosco (orphanages, boarding schools and technical schools): Don Bosco Liluah, Don Bosco Krishnagar, Don Bosco Tardeo, Don Bosco Matunga, Don Bosco Madras, etc. .



4. Centers in continuous boiling for training activities

Each Don Bosco school was a center in continual boiling with various educational activities, in addition to the academic one. The Salesians had given great importance to various types of extra-curricular activities.


4.1

"A Salesian house without music is a dead house". Following the example of Don Bosco and the first Salesians of Valdocco, the Salesians in India gave great importance to this particular feature of the educational formation of young people. Practically, in every orphanage (boarding school) and Don Bosco school, especially in the cities, there was a musical band. The Salesians were known to be good collectors of funds (also here following the example of Don Bosco) and they received help from benefactors for many projects, including that of buying musical instruments for the band, almost all brought or imported from Italy. The San Thome Orphanage by Mylapore, for example, obtained financial aid from benefactors from the British aristocracy of Madras for the extra expenses of the orphanage, and, although they were insufficient, they bought 25 new musical instruments from Italy to start a musical band - the San Thome Orphanage Band - in 1913, which became famous throughout the Madras Presidency and was invited to play in different places in Madras and around Madras. In the same way other Don Bosco Bands (Don Bosco Band Tanjore, Don Bosco Band Vellore, Don Bosco Band Shillong, Don Bosco Band Krishnagar, Band and Choir of Our Lady's House Shillong, Don Bosco Band Tardeo, etc.) were all famous and were also invited to play in official functions of the Church and the civil state. Apart from the educational and educational value of music, the Don Bosco bands have carried out good propaganda for the Don Bosco schools. With the introduction of the band, the Salesians offered the children not only the 


4.2

Sport has had a prominent place in the various extra-curricular activities of the Don Bosco schools. The Salesians were well aware of the educational value of sport. Organizing a sports day in schools every year became a tradition. The birth and organization of Don Bosco Club for Sport in Salesian schools took priority among extra-curricular activities. Some of these clubs became famous, for example, the Don Bosco Athletic Club Laitumkhrah, which began in 1923, became the number one sport in all of Northeast India. Athletes from various schools of Don Bosco participated in many sports competitions organized by civil and scholastic authorities, and often Don Bosco's boys won most of the trophies and returned home proud of their prizes.

 
4.3

The Salesians gave great importance to the games and in Don Bosco schools there was every kind of game: football, basketball, cricket, hockey, etc. The boarding boys, for example, had at least an hour for team games every day. Football, basketball, cricket and hockey teams were also organized for outside students (day-scholars). Even in these games, the Don Bosco teams were the best in their districts (provinces) and also in the federal state. For example, Don Bosco Hockey Team of Matunga, Don Bosco Football Team of Krishnagar, were considered the best teams in their districts. Likewise other Don Bosco school teams, scattered in various parts of India, were among the best.


4.4

Theatrical performances, acting, musical competitions and singing competitions, both at school level and in school competitions, were of great importance in Don Bosco's schools.


5. Internationality: one family


One of the first features that were noted was the internationality of the first, second and other groups of Salesian missionaries who came to India. They came from different countries: Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, Poland, Slovenia, England, Ireland, Australia, etc. and formed one and only family: the Salesian Family. They represented and witnessed the universality and catholicity of the Salesian Congregation.

From the beginning the Salesians began to promote indigenous vocations. Already in the second year of their presence in Tanjore, in 1907, two adults, Ignazio Muthu of 28 years and Maria Arulsamy, educators in the orphanage, were admitted as aspirants, and in the following years they did the novitiate and philosophy in Portugal and Italy; they returned to India in November 1911 and were sent to Mylapore as Salesian assistants in the orphanage and at the same time studied theology at the San Thome Seminary and were ordained priests - a new edition of the formation of the first Salesians at Valdocco under the guidance of Don Bosco! Soon, other young people followed them not only from Tanjore, but also from other Salesian presences, such as the Don Bosco School (boarding) Liluah, the cradle of the first Anglo-Indian Salesians.

This particular characteristic, specific to the Salesians, was one of the main reasons for the many vocations and the expansion of the Salesian Congregation in India. In fact, several religious congregations (of European origin) in India have not grown or developed, some have even ceased to exist, due to the lack of this characteristic. They had not given importance to cultivating indigenous vocations. The Salesians, on the other hand, were at the forefront of this field. Perhaps, and I note this with some sadness, this characteristic has been forgotten or perhaps not taken seriously by the Indian Salesians for the last 3-4 decades. India is the most multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-linguistic nation in the world. The emergence of ethnic-cultural-linguistic regionalism, especially in recent decades, it has influenced not only politics but also the Indian Church and consequently various religious congregations, including the Salesian Congregation: they were divided on the basis of regionalism, which to some extent is inevitable and is also right, but at the same time it has become a counter-witness, a certain lack in the full following of Christ and Don Bosco. The Indian church should overcome all forms of division based on an exaggerated form of regionalism! a certain lack in the full following of Christ and Don Bosco. The Indian church should overcome all forms of division based on an exaggerated form of regionalism! a certain lack in the full following of Christ and Don Bosco. The Indian church should overcome all forms of division based on an exaggerated form of regionalism!

6. Family spirit

The first missionaries were very close to each other and to their local superior. They felt like brothers of a family, especially close to the house manager. The family spirit, a characteristic transmitted by Don Bosco himself, which existed in many of the Salesian presences, especially in houses of formation, was indeed very enviable. For example, anyone who reads the chronicles of the first years of Salesian presence in Shillong and North-East India will be struck by three things: first, the spirit of union around the superior (Bishop Mathias), great respect, veneration and attachment that everyone had towards him. The way in which his feasts (name day, anniversaries and other occasions as ecclesial and congregational promotion)) were practically celebrated in every Salesian house, in the house of formation (Our Lady's House), in the St. Anthony's school, in the parish of Shillong, etc. are sufficient proof of this fact. Secondly, the constant movement of the superior from one station (Salesian house) to another was a sign of appreciation and love for the confreres and great interest in their Salesian missionary commitment; and, thirdly, the spirit of sacrifice, the spirit and missionary zeal ( aude and hope was his motto) of Bishop Mathias as superior whom he had transmitted to all the others. The same family spirit was infused by the Salesians in every Salesian institution.

Another characteristic of the first Salesians was their deep love for the Congregation and for the Superiors, who also transmitted to the children of the schools with whom they shared their lives. For example, the letter of Mathias written to the Rector Major Filippo Rinaldi and the reply of the Rector Major reveal on the one hand the great attachment that Bishop Mathias and his confreres had for the Rector Major, the other superiors and the congregation; and on the other hand the great esteem and affection that the Rector Major had towards him and the other confreres. Constant correspondence and personal visits to superiors, not only of Bishop Mathias but of many other Salesians (bishops, inspectors and missionaries), documented in the chronicles and in Salesian history, bear witness to this profound attachment to superiors and the congregation.


7. Love for Don Bosco

Another specific characteristic of Salesian missionaries was their great love and attachment to Don Bosco, which they transmitted and inculcated in every Salesian presence (boarding schools, elementary and high schools, technical institutes, parishes, mission centers, etc.). Don Tomatis, for example, the leader and superior of the first missionary expedition to India, had known and lived with Don Bosco for 8 years (1880-1888), and he had a great love for him. Imitating his father Don Bosco, Don Tomatis was known for his love especially for his poor boys and they also loved him as a father. The testimony of Bishop Mathias in this regard is emblematic. "The thought that God is everywhere and that we work for him strengthens me and therefore we should be happy and happy everywhere ... My ambition is to make Don Bosco known and loved. I would like to flood [all] India with Don Bosco. This filial and ardent desire that almost consumes me makes me bold, strong and courageous, even though I am not as strong as I once was ". The same can be said of most other Salesians as well. Their love and devotion to Don Bosco is amply highlighted in the chronicles of the history of the Salesians in India.They were convinced that Don Bosco was with them at every step, especially in difficult and dangerous times.For example, they had no doubt that the recovery of Don Bonardi, after a car accident, it was a miracle of Don Bosco, with great confidence and prayer, 

The Salesians felt the need and urgency to publicly demonstrate this great love and devotion to Don Bosco and so they wanted to spread the love and devotion for Don Bosco wherever they were present: schools, parishes, oratories, mission stations. Interpersonal talks, lectures, good nights- for example on the dreams of Don Bosco - they were often on Don Bosco. The boys were encouraged to read the life of Don Bosco. Like the Salesians, their boys and parishioners also had a great desire to get to know Don Bosco and they also knew a lot about him, but above all they loved him as their father. The event of his canonization, April 1, 1943, was celebrated with the greatest solemnity in all Salesian presences / institutions and this had a great effect (strong attachment and love for Don Bosco) not only on the Salesians but also on their children and parishioners. Thus the love of the Salesians for Don Bosco soon turned into the love of the people for him. For example,

8. Devotion to Mary Help of Christians

Following in the footsteps of Don Bosco, the Salesians maintained a tender devotion to the Madonna of Don Bosco, Mary Help of Christians. Their love and devotion for her was so great that they could not keep them only within them but they tried with every possible means to spread this love and devotion to Mary Help of Christians of the Christians wherever they were (schools, oratories, parishes, mission villages, etc.). It was the most evident devotion in all Salesian presences. For example, the first group of Salesians in Tanjore concluded the organized program to welcome them, with a prayer of thanks and the blessing of Mary Help of Christians. The first stone of the first house for the Salesians and of the first chapel dedicated to Mary Help of Christians was placed on the feast of the

Msgr. Mathias, before leaving for India, among so many things, urgently advised his companions to spread always and everywhere they would come to find devotion to Mary Help of Christians of Christians. The second missionary expedition led by Msgr. Mathias joined Shillong, the final destination, January 13, 1922 and entering the church, they had the pleasant surprise of finding a statue of Mary Help of Christians on the altar on the right side. They were moved to tears. Their Madonna had preceded them to prepare the place for them. After the great and enthusiastic reception function, an image of Mary Help of Christians was given to all the participants. After the first solemn celebration in Shillong of his feast, May 24, 1922, on the evening of that very important day, the Salesians solemnly entrusted themselves to Mary Help of Christians and also entrusted their mission of Assam to Our Lady. In January 1923 they enthusiastically decided to start the pious practice of commemorating the 24th of each month in his honor, thus accepting Don Bosco's recommendation regarding the spread of devotion to Mary Help of Christians.

A tender and strong devotion to Mary Help of Christians and the spread of this devotion in everyone, wherever they found themselves, were one of the very special characteristics of the Salesians. Mary Help of Christians was the mother of every Salesian educational presence. The boys and the faithful of the Salesian presences (schools, parishes, oratories, mission villages) were deeply devoted to Mary Help of Christians. They expressed their devotion in various ways: daily recitation of the holy rosary, personal and community prayer in front of the statue / image of Mary Help of Christians, bringing her own medal, reciting the three Hail Mary next to the bed before sleeping, celebrating her feasts with devotion, making a good confession, following the novenas in his honor, receiving Holy Communion, etc.

Conclusion

I believe we can say that it was precisely the spirit of Don Bosco and his educational experience that, transplanted to India, bore fruits beyond all expectations. Today, India is the country of the world that has the most Salesians.

 

Significant Educative Experiences of Salesians in India from 1906 up to 1951-52

Scaria Thuruthiyil, sdb

Introduction

In the missionary dream which Don Bosco had on 9 April 1886 he saw his sons working in Calcutta.

Don Bosco founded the Salesian Society in 1859 and at the time of his death in 1888, there were more than one thousand Salesians working in 57 institutions in Italy, France, Spain, England, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. The first Salesian missionary expedition was sent to Argentina in 1875.  In 1876 and 1877 after his visits to Pope Pius IX Don Bosco thought seriously of sending his sons to India, to take up the vicariate apostolic of Mangalore.  But Don Bosco could not realize this project due to lack of personnel.

The fame of Don Bosco as an educator of the young, especially the poor and abandoned, spread far and wide, beyond Italy, Europe and some Latin American countries. In 1883-84, Mgr. Goethals, vicar apostolic of Calcutta invited Don Bosco to start and orphanage at Giridih (Bihar). It was a very attractive offer but Don Bosco could not accept due to lack of personnel. After several years of epistolary as well as personal contacts and negotiations, first between Bishop Antonio de Souza Barroso of the padroado diocese of Mylapore and then after his demise in 1899 between his successor Bishop Teotonio Manuel Ribeiro Vieira de Castro, who had personally met Don Bosco at Mathi in 1885 and Don Rua in Turin on 19 December 1904, that finally Don Rua sent the first group of six Salesians who reached Tanjore (part of the diocese of Mylapore), a province of the Madras Presidency,  India, on 14th January 1906, to take up an orphanage with an attached elementary school (St. Francis Xavier) and a technical school (St. Xavier’s Industrial School).

In this paper I intend to present some of the salient characteristics of the educative experiences of the Salesians in India from the beginning of their presence, i.e. from 1906 up to 1951-52, relying on the available historical documents. In a word it can be stated that the Salesian missionaries who were invited to take up some of the already existing orphanages, elementary and/or high schools, and technical schools, transformed them into replicas of Valdocco, on the footsteps of Don Bosco following the educative charism transmitted by Don Bosco to his sons. Similarly any new presence, especially boarding for elementary and high school boys as well as for technical school students, was permeated with the Valdocco spirit. Preference was for orphan boys, most of whom were Christians, and other poor boys. Practically in all mission stations, where the Salesians were involved in evangelization (preaching, catechizing, converting, baptizing, pastoral ministries, etc.) there existed and still exist schools, often boarding schools attached to the residence of the Salesians, including technical, where reigned and still reigns the Valdocco spirit. The first Salesian missionaries were imbibed with the Valdocco spirit and they just transmitted that spirit wherever they went and wherever they were present. I had the fortune and joy of knowing and living with some of the early Salesian missionaries and am a fruit as well as a witness of their educative presence in India.

1. Schools: Elementary, Middle and High Schools, and Technical Schools

The Salesian missionaries set out for India with two precise scopes, in keeping with the charism transmitted by Don Bosco himself: 1. education of the young and 2. evangelization of peoples by taking up missions (parishes, dioceses) for taking care of the faithful and more especially for converting and baptizing new members to the Christian faith. 

Education of youngsters, particularly the poor and abandoned boys, was the primary aim of the Salesians who first came to India. It is to be noted that the first missionary expedition of the Salesians to Tanjore, in 1906, was to take up an existing orphanage with an attached elementary school as well as a technical school, precisely because Don Bosco and his sons were known to be good educators, as per charism they received from their Father and Founder Don Bosco, who dedicated his entire life in taking care of the poor and abandoned boys / youngsters, with the scope of forming them to be ‘good Christians and honest citizens’. Similarly, the second presence in Madras - Mylapore was again to take up an already existing orphanage (St. Thome) with an attached technical school. The second Salesian expedition to Shillong, North-East India was to take up the Mission / Prefecture of Assam, but started off their missionary activity by taking up the Parish and the St. Anthony’s school in Shillong, which again was an orphanage with an attached technical school, which was formerly run by the Salvatorians.

Similarly the main thrust of the Salesians in the different parts of India (Don Bosco in Liluah in Calcutta, St. John’s in Bandel, Don Bosco in Krishnagar, Don Bosco in Tardeo, Don Bosco in Matunga-Bombay, Don Bosco in Vellore, St. Mary’s High School and St. Gabriel’s School in Madras, etc.) was to impart education especially to ‘the poor and abandoned boys’. In fact most of the schools and orphanages, meant for poor children, already existed and most of them had attached technical schools as well. The Salesians were invited to reactivate, to renew and improve them both in quantity and quality, and transform them into good schools / Don Bosco schools, just like that of Valdocco by putting into practice the Educative System (Preventive System) transmitted by Don Bosco.

In fact, the Don Bosco schools soon became some of the best schools in India, not only for the number of students who attended them (day-scholars ranging from 500-1000-1500-2000 and more, boarders from 50-100-150-200) but also for academic achievements, discipline, good behavior and for other extracurricular activities. Till today most of the Salesian schools top the list in curricular and extracurricular activities. It was and is more difficult to get admissions for boys to the Don Bosco schools than to get good government jobs. Similarly the Don Bosco Technical schools too became known, most of them got government recognition and the pass-out students easily got jobs in various industries, firms, companies, etc. Even those who finished non-formal technical / vocational education could easily get jobs.

The great majority of the boarding boys who attended the Salesian schools, especially those in the cities, were Catholic boys, especially Anglo-Indians, but there were also Protestants, Jews, Hindus and Muslims, as for example in Don Bosco Liluah. The majority of day-scholars, instead, were non-Christians: Hindus, Muslims and others. Similarly many of the teachers of the Salesian schools were lay-people, both Catholics, some of whom were Salesian Cooperators, and non-Catholics (Hindus and Muslims). St. John’s High School, attached to the Bandel Monastery, for example, as per report of Fr. Candela in 1937, was practically in the hands of the teachers who were all Hindus and Muslims.

The Salesians had a special preference for the youngsters of the technical schools, most of whom were orphans and hence poor, who needed a vocational (technical) training so as to get jobs, necessary for getting themselves inserted into normal social and political life. The trades offered were mechanical, motor or electrical engineering, carpentry, cabinet-making, printing, bookbinding, etc. While learning a trade, the trainees contributed to earning money for the school as well. For example, the Salesians knew the importance of the apostolate of the press and started a printing press in 1924, in Tanjore which was also a training center for number of orphans.  The press published Catholic literature and undertook government jobs, court judgments and railway publications. The Life of Don Bosco and the Life of Domenic Savio, translated in Tamil, by a certain Mr. T. S. D’Sami, were also published. Press and printing technology got a privileged place among the trades in the Salesian technical schools (Don Bosco Shillong, C.O.P. in Calcutta, etc.) and most of the Salesian as well as Catholic pastoral and spiritual literature were printed in the technical schools run by the Salesians.

In order to give the technical students general education hand in hand with technical training, Fr. Mederlet began a night school – Don Bosco Night School - in 1910. After the technical training classes, the students were given regular classes of general education in the evening from 5.30 pm. to 8.00 pm. Similar evening classes or night schools continued to be a particular characteristic in the other orphanages / boarding schools run by the Salesians, like in St. Anthony’s, Shillong, in Don Bosco Technical School, Liluah, etc.

Practically in every mission station taken up by the Salesians, in Tanjore, Mylapore, North-East India, Calcutta, Krishnagar, Madras and Mumbai, there existed at least elementary, often high schools for children and habitually a boarding house for boys was attached to the parish house. The boarders attended the nearby local schools during the school hours and the rest of time at the boarding.

Education of the young was the absolute priority of every Salesian presence.

2. Educative Method (the Preventive System)

What could have been the reason for the vast growth and expansion of Don Bosco Schools in India in such a short time? The answer lies in the educative method that the Salesians followed. In imparting education to boys the Salesians put into practice the Preventive System, the educative method transmitted by Don Bosco. This characteristic, specific of Salesian charism, was the main reason for Salesians being invited to take up or start new schools. The Salesians were known to be good educators endowed with a particular spirit and method, good especially in offering vocational training (technical schools), and that was the main reason for their being called to take up schools. Don Bosco’s method of education, an absolute novelty, put into practice by the Salesians, was the reason behind their great success and appreciation by the Church and civil authorities.

The Salesians transformed their schools, particularly orphanages and boarding schools into educative communities where the Preventive System based on Reason, Religion and Loving Kindness, reigned supreme. Both the Salesians and the boys inter-mingled with one another, the Salesian assistance became emblematic and they formed one family. The boys felt that they were loved. The Salesians made sure to love them and in return the boys loved the Salesians as their elder brothers / fathers.

3. Schools Permeated with Valdocco Spirit

In every school, especially in boarding schools, the Salesians implemented the Valdocco experience of education. Thus, for example, when the Salesians took charge of the San Thome Orphanage which was in existence for over a century and meant for Anglo-Indian boys, on 10 January 1909, there were just 30 boys, living in poor conditions. The three Salesians settled down to run the orphanage in the Salesian way (by following Don Bosco’s method and spirit of education which included the teaching of catechism, holding catechism competitions, preparing the inmates for first communion and other sacraments, solemn liturgical celebrations, with procession amidst hymns, music, fireworks, etc., of the Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary especially the Assumption and Mary Help of Christians). They brought about new life in the orphanage and in the technical school. They transformed them into homes where both boys and Salesians lived together as one family. Year by year the number of boys increased from 50 (1907) to 180 (1924).

In the very first year of their arrival in Shillong in 1922, the Salesians were entrusted with the St. Anthony’s Orphanage, which was run by the Congregation of the Holy Cross and to reactivate the former technical school run by the Salvatorians. St. Anthony’s was transformed into a Don Bosco institution impregnated with the Salesian spirit and customs: good night talks, hanging pictures of Mary Help of Christians on the walls of the class rooms, study hall, regular night prayers according to the form customary in Salesian houses. The inmates were exhorted to say the tradition three Hail Mary’s before going to bed, wear a medal of MHC round their neck, celebrate solemnly the feast of the Immaculate Conception, very dear to the Salesian, to learn catechism, religious instruction, preparation of those who were to be baptized, organize sodalities and other pious associations, monthly exercise for a happy death, annual spiritual retreat, etc.

Such was the spirit that permeated in all the other Don Bosco schools (boarding’s, orphanages, technical and day-schools) as in Don Bosco Liluah, Don Bosco Krishnagar, Don Bosco Tardeo, Don Bosco Matunga, Don Bosco Madras, etc.

4. Bubbling with Formative Activities

Every Don Bosco school was a center bubbling with various formative activities, besides the academic. The Salesians gave much importance to all types of extra-curricular activities.

4.1.

“A Salesian house without music is dead”. Following the example set by Don Bosco and the early Salesians in Valdocco, the Salesians in India gave importance to this educative characteristic. Practically in every Don Bosco school in the cities, there was a brass band. The Salesians were known to be good collectors of funds (here too following the example of Don Bosco) and they got help from benefactors. The San Thome Orphanage from Mylapore, for example, got help from benefactors hailing from the British aristocracy in Madras, for extra expenses of the orphanage as well as enough to buy 25 new musical instruments from Italy for a brass band - the San Thome Orphanage Band - in 1913, which became famous in Madras. Similarly other Don Bosco Bands (D.B. Tanjore, D.B.Vellore, D.B. Shillong, D.B. Krishnagar, Band and Choir of Our Lady’s House in Shillong, Don Bosco Band Tardeo, etc.) were famous and were invited to play in official Church and civil functions. A part from the educative value of music, the Don Bosco Bands made good propaganda for the Don Bosco schools. The boys got opportunities to learn musical instruments and got training in music, which plays an important educative role.

4.2.

Sports had a prominent place in the various extra-curricular activities of Don Bosco Schools. The annual sports day of the school became a tradition. The formation of Don Bosco Sports Clubs in the schools was given priority. Some of these clubs became famous, for example, the Don Bosco Athletic Club Laitumkhrah stated in 1923, was number one in the whole of North-East. Athletes from various Don Bosco schools used to take part in the various sports competitions organized by civil and school authorities, and very often the Don Bosco boys won most of the trophies / prizes.

4.3.

D. Bosco schools gave lots of importance to games (football, basketball, cricket, hockey, etc.). The inmates of boarding schools had daily at least an hour for games. The Don Bosco teams of various games were often the best teams at the district and state levels. For example, the Don Bosco Hockey Team of Matunga, the Don Bosco Football Team of Krishnagar, and other Don Bosco Teams of Don Bosco Schools spread out in various parts of India.

4.4.

Acting in theatrical plays, elocution, musical and singing competitions, both at the school and interschool levels, were given great importance in the Don Bosco schools. 

5. Internationality: One Family

One of the first things we note is the internationality of the first, second and other groups of Salesian missionaries who came to India. They hailed from different nations: Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, Poland, Slovenia, England, Ireland, Australia, etc. and formed but one family: the Salesian Family. They represented the universality and catholicity of the Salesian Congregation.

Right from the beginning the Salesians started to foster indigenous vocations. Already from the second year of their presence in Tanjore, (1907) two men (Ignatius Muthu,28 years and Maria Arulsamy (also an adult), involved as teachers in the orphanage, were admitted as aspirants, made their novitiate and philosophy in Portugal and Italy, returned to India in November 1911 and were sent to Mylapore as Salesian assistants in the orphanage and at the same time study theology at San Thome Seminary and were ordained priests – [a ditto replica of the early salesians’ formation in Valdocco under the guidance of Don Bosco]. Soon other young men followed them not only from Tanjore but also from other Salesian presences, especially from Don Bosco schools, like Don Bosco Liluah from where hailed the first Anglo-Indian Salesians.

This particular characteristic, specific of the Salesians, was one of the main reasons for numerous vocations and expansion of the Salesian Congregation in India. In fact quite many religious congregations in India did not develop nor expand, some even ceased to exist, for the lack of this characteristic. Perhaps this characteristic has been forgotten or not taken seriously by the present Salesians since the recent 3-4 decades or so. India is the most multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-linguistic nation in the world. The emergence of ethnic-cultural-linguistic regionalism, especially in these past few decades, influenced the Indian Church as well and as a consequence various religious congregations/institutions, including the Salesian Congregation, got divided on the basis of regionalism, which to some extent is inevitable and just, but at the same time a counter-witness to being fully disciples of Christ and sons of Don Bosco, who should overcome all forms of regionalism!

6. Family Spirit

The early missionaries were also very united with their local superior. They felt like a closely knit family, especially with the rector of the house. The family spirit that existed in many of the Salesian presences, especially in the formation houses, was really enviable. Anyone who reads the chronicle of the early years of Salesian presence in the North-East India will be struck by three things: First, the spirit of union around the superior (Mgr. Mathias) and the great respect, veneration and attachment which all had for him. The way his feasts were celebrated in Our Lady’s House, in St. Anthony’s and in the parish is sufficient proof of this. Second, the constant movement of the superior from one mission station to another... Third, the spirit of sacrifice and missionary spirit of the superior and of everyone else.”  The same family spirit was infused by the Salesians in every Salesian institution. Another characteristic of the early Salesians was their deep love for the Congregation and for the Superiors, which they transmitted to the boys with whom they divided their life. For example, Fr. Mathia’s letter to Philip Rinaldi, the acting Rector Major and his reply reveal the great attachment that he and his confreres had for the superiors and the congregation. This affection for the superiors in Turin was also manifested in concrete gestures, like the contribution made by Fr. Maschio to the solidarity fund of the Rector Major. 

7. Love for Don Bosco

Another characteristic specific of the Salesian missionaries was their great love and attachment to Don Bosco, which they transmitted and inculcated in every Salesian presence (boarding schools, elementary and high schools, technical schools, parishes, mission centers, etc.). Fr. Tomatis, for example, the leader and superior of the first missionary expedition to India, had known and lived with Don Bosco for 8 years (1880 – 1888), and loved Don Bosco dearly. Imitating his father Don Bosco, Fr. Tomatis had special love for his poor boys and they too loved him as their father. The testimony of Mgr. Mathias is emblematic. “The thought that God is everywhere and that working for Him we should be happy and contented everywhere, strengthens me…My ambition is to make Don Bosco known and loved. I would like to flood India with Don Bosco. This filial and ardent desire which almost devours me, makes me daring, strong and courageous, even though I am no longer so strong as I was once”. The same can be said of most of the other Salesians as well. Their love and devotion to Don Bosco are amply evidenced in the chronicles of the History of Salesians in India. They were convinced that Don Bosco was with them in every step, especially in difficult and dangerous moments, for example miraculous healing of don Bonardi after accident on putting the linen cloth which had touched the head of Don Bosco.

The Salesians demonstrated and spread their filial love for Don Bosco wherever they were present (schools, parishes, mission stations). Talks, conferences, good-nights (on Don Bosco’s dreams) were often on Don Bosco. The boys were encouraged to read the life of Don Bosco. Like the Salesians their boys too not only knew lots about Don Bosco but also loved him deeply as their own father. The occasion of Don Bosco’s canonization, 1 April 1943, was celebrated solemnly in all Salesian presences, which increased the boys’ love and attachment to Don Bosco.  Thus the Salesians’ love for Don Bosco soon transformed into people’s love for him (for example, the setting up of a bronze monument to D.B. in Shillong with the municipality’s permission on the occasion of D. Bosco’s canonization, the great enthusiasm of the people taking part in the various religious and civil functions in honor of D. Bosco in Calcutta and in all other Salesian Centers).

8. Devotion to Mary Help of Christians

Following in the footsteps of Don Bosco, the Salesians dearly loved and spread devotion to Mary Help of Christians, which was very evident in all Salesian presences. The first group of Salesians to Tanjore, after the cultural program to welcome them, concluded by a prayer of thanksgiving and the blessing of Mary Help of Christians. The foundation stone of the first house for Salesians, the first chapel dedicated to Mary Help of Christians was laid on the feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1906 and blessed in August 1907.

Among other things, Mgr. Mathias recommended with insistence his companions before setting out for India to spread devotion to MHC. When the second missionary expedition led by Mgr. Mathias reached their final destination, Shillong on 13th January 1922 and on entering the church they had the pleasant surprise to find a statue of MHC on the altar of the right hand side. They were moved to tears. Their Madonna had preceded them to prepare the place. After the welcome function all were given a picture of MHC. After the solemn celebration of her feast on 24 May 1922, the Salesians entrusted themselves and their mission in Assam, to their Madonna in the evening of that day and made their enthusiastic decision in January 1923 to start the pious practice of celebrating the 24th of very month in her honor, thus carrying out the recommendation of Don Bosco regarding the spreading of devotion to Mary Help of Christians.

Devotion to MHC was one of the particular characteristic of every educative presence of the Salesians. The boys were deeply devoted to MHC and they expressed their devotion in various ways: reciting the holy rosary daily, praying in front of the statute of MHC, wearing her medals, celebrating her feasts by making a good confession, keeping the novena, receiving holy Communion, reciting the three Hail Mary’s before falling asleep, etc.

Significant Salesian educational experiences in China before 1950

Ten points for reflection

Michele Ferrero, sdb

Introduction: historical context

When the Salesians arrived in China in 1906 the congregation was totally Western and predominantly Italian. It was different from what it is today. The Western Salesians arrived in China on the impetus of the fresh tradition of Don Bosco and his zeal for the salvation of youth. The Salesian educational enthusiasm met the millenary Chinese culture. The first decades of Salesian history in China are also the history of this encounter between cultures.

The history of the Salesians in China exists and has already been written by authoritative researchers such as Mario Rassiga, Carlo Socol and Domingos Leong. In this article I therefore present only some aspects of this cultural encounter that can serve us today. I divide the presentation into ten points, each of which offers a positive aspect (which I indicate with the word "PRO") and a negative one (which I indicate with the word "CON") of the historical meeting between the Western Salesians and China before 1950.

Between 1906 and 1950 the Salesians had official and stable works in the following Chinese cities: Macao, Hong Kong, Shaoguan (Guangdong), Shanghai, Kunming (Yunnan), Beijing. [80]

Until 1950 there were three inspectors: 1926-1930 don Ignazio Canazei; 1930-1952 don Carlo Braga; 1952-1958 don Mario Acquistapace. [81]

The number of confreres in China grew considerably in those early years: 1906: 6 confreres; 1917: 12; 1921: 25; 1925: 68; 1928: 80; 1934: 112; 1940: 185 confreres.

The ten challenges of the Salesians in China in the first 50 years

1. Importance of human relations.

PRO: the Salesian heart

The language of heart recommended by Don Bosco to his Salesians is the most powerful means of communication that an educator can use when dealing with young people who speak another language, be it geographical or personal data. Goodness is understood all over the world and at all ages. It was said of Don Braga that he spoke various Chinese dialects ... all at the same time! For the Salesian educational work in China, Fr Braga recommended: "take them as they commonly say, from the side of the heart."

The Jesuits over the centuries had refined their journey of inculturation in the Chinese world, but the Salesians had neither the intellectual resources nor the tradition for such a complex work of transformation. But they had the example of Don Bosco. His father's heart was not Piedmontese or Italian, he was paternal. Don Braga says: "I did change method methodically. I resumed the reading of Don Bosco's life and made myself a very special and assiduous study to imitate our father in everything. "

CON: the Chinese language

"It is not enough for young people to be loved, they need to know they are loved". This is why it also often takes good words. But to say it you need to know the language of the guys you work with. For all missionaries in China the language is the most difficult of obstacles. Chinese is a language with a large number of homophonic words and compound words. For example, the Mandarin "yi" sound, with various tones and corresponding to various characters, has about 80 different meanings.

In an article on the Macao Orphanage Socol explains that the problem of language was the most dramatic element in conditioning individuals and communities. In 1910, Don Cogliolo noted that religious teaching, which should be specific to Salesians, was entrusted to two lay people because of the difficulty of the Chinese language. He added that the permanent formation of the priests was neglected because all the time was devoted to the study of the language.

Don Luigi Versiglia and Don Fergnani made progress, to the point of being able to confess to offering simple sermons. Don Olive on the other hand, struggling over the years, struggled. Coadjutor Rota, with an enormous effort of will, had learned enough Chinese for his work, but this could not be expected from the coadjutor Carmagnola.

In 1914 tailor Luigi Viola wrote to the inspector asking for reinforcements. The work was too much and he had no way of studying the language, without which nothing good could be done. Don Bernardini, the second director of ' The Orphanage Macau (1919-26), he could not' never to learn the language, even at the initial level. Don José Lucas, director since 1926, after 14 years in China spoke only a Chinese for informal conversation and never had the courage to give a "good night" to the students. His vicar, Don Emilio Rossetti, had difficulty with both Portuguese and Chinese. Don António Carvalho, the prefect of studies, did not speak Chinese and did not want to study it. The three coadjutors who ran the lab all had difficulty making themselves understood.

In a letter to Fr Ricaldone Don Canazei insisted that inculturation begin with the language. During Fr. Berruti's visit to China in 1933 he was noted in the observations that one of the main difficulties was the language.

2. Authority: teachers and hierarchy

PRO: love between educators and students

Confucius teaches that respect for the social role of people is fundamental to the harmonious progress of society. Respect for authority and respect for parents are similar.

Salesian houses have always made respect for educators one of the main virtues to be taught to children. The first Salesians, working in the educational field in China, had at their disposal an exceptional instrument: the Salesian preventive system. This was not in conflict with the Confucian tradition, indeed it suited it perfectly.

The educators were not just in the chair. "Another well-chosen initiative, also in the footsteps of Don Bosco, was the organization of theatrical performances in grand style, for example the San Tarcisio ". "Life in the Salesian house was a feast of harmony of hearts. Youths and superiors loved each other. They were years of Paradise "(Zen)

WITH: authoritarianism

The Confucian tradition is not evangelical. The superior must be honest, sincere and dignified. However, his task is not to serve but to guarantee order, harmony and progress. The superior is required rectitude towards his subjects, not familiarity; impartiality, not cordiality. The Confucian tradition is a great help to the Salesian educational mission for the educational relationship with children, but it is not enough to evangelize by educating.

Some Chinese teachers in Salesian schools took advantage of their position to impose their personal power on the children. "The work of the teachers would certainly be more active and all our work easier if we had teachers imbued with our spirit [... the masters lack that indefinable quid and that spirit, that sense of goodness, of gaiety, of joviality ', of dominating energy and lady that is all ours. "(Braga)

3. Educational tradition and importance of study.

PRO: Salesians for education

For Confucius, study is the way that leads to redemption. The importance of youth education is a shared value in China. The Salesians in China from 1906 to 1950 gave birth to significant educational works. Encouraged by the Shanghai Synod of 1924, Catholic missions in China began to consider schools as one of the best tools for evangelization.

Linked to this is the importance of good press. In China the very important written word. The Chinese like to read. Libraries and bookstores are very popular places. Good books are therefore an excellent form of evangelization. For the Salesians, the Chinese translation of the Constitutions was a very important moment.

CON: writing (if the teacher cannot read and write ...)

The Chinese writing system appeared already 3,000 years ago. Not being the alphabet-related writing the same character can be pronounced differently, as happens in fact in the various dialects of China. This is why the importance of the written word in China is enormous. Writing, even more than spoken language, is the element of national and historical unity. This represents a great difficulty for Western Salesian missionaries, especially for school work.

Don Giovanni Guarona wrote: "The language, what an obstacle, what a problem! Assemble in the chair? But those who dream so much We are sincere: how many come to know the language well or at least discretely? I think I say a lot admitting 50% "

The provincial council notified the studentate: "Every week they will have an hour and a half of Chinese. Uniform program: prayers, catechism. Learn to read them well ... "Don Rassiga comments:" Article 8 spoke of the study of Chinese; we had all been sent by superiors to the Mission at a young age even with the aim that we could learn the language of the place more easily and well ”

Providence came to the rescue, although it was not a strategic plan, but simply a choice dictated by urgency, the missions urgently needed personnel, so they began sending young clerics to missions, who learned the language better.

4. Laboriosita '

PRO: Don Bosco

Chinese labor is a visible characteristic of this people. In this culture the Salesian industriousness recommended by Don Bosco is at ease and is appreciated and understood. The first Salesians in China insisted on work, manual and intellectual as Don Bosco had taught. The Salesians also opened three notable vocational schools: the St. Louis vocational school in Hong Kong (1927); the professional school of Nantung, Haimen, later transferred to Shanghai: the Domenico Savio agricultural school in Shanghai (1935); the technical school of Aberdeen, in Hong Kong (1935).

Furthermore, the Salesian tradition does not consider serious work and joyful spirit in opposition. There is no contradiction. One can be tired but cheerful. In the early years there was some misunderstanding because the western clerics arrived zealously and enthusiastically and this seemed to oppose hard work. Don Canazei no longer wanted to accept novices. Instead, he demanded that the clerics be sent as trainees.

CON: work without a soul?

An enormous challenge in China for the Church has always been to bring people to Christ without giving the impression that there is a financial gain as an objective. At the same time a Westerner who works hard in China but does not do it for money ("da mihi animas coetera tolle!) Is regarded with suspicion: what motivations will he have?" This cultural environment presented a double temptation for the Salesians: to work little, not even the spiritual fruits are seen; or work a lot, but to earn money or positions, not for souls. Don Albera recalled: “ the enthusiasm of the moment is not enough to form the missionary, but well-defined qualities and skills are needed:physical health, true spirit of piety and sacrifice, balance of character, tenacity of will, ease of learning idioms, solid religious and civil education ".

5. Patience and temperance: indirect and complicated relationships.

PRO: Salesian charity, good manners and attention to others.

Patience is a Chinese characteristic. It is often similar to resignation and can lead to a certain fatalism. Here we see the Taoist and Buddhist influence.

Don Bosco also insisted on patience. He himself tells how he worked on his character to increase self-control. This allowed him to reach that patience so important for an educator, also called "temperance".

This Salesian style of welcoming young people to the level they are at and of accepting situations of hardship, cold, heat, tiredness, tensions with Christian resignation was much appreciated in China. In Chinese culture, indirect relationships are preferred to immediate reactions. It is an element of courtesy to avoid too direct positions, in order not to force the interlocutor to say of the "no" that can make you lose face. The "words in the ear", "not making public recalls", "never humiliating children in public", "not making angry calls" ... are all elements of the Salesian tradition that found fertile ground in China .

CON: Complications, bureaucracy, unclear responsibilities.

In this culture frankness and frankness are not always recognized as important values. The search for indirect communications sometimes leads to an increase in complications inherent in communication itself. On the one hand the complexity is positive, because avoiding clear responsibilities avoids the risk of making someone lose face.

On the other hand, complexity means sometimes slowness in decisions, lack of clarity in directives. Instead of a negative answer, out of kindness Chinese culture prefers waiting and silence. The first Salesians often came across this attitude of kindness / complication. In the correspondences and in the chronicles we often speak of "after innumerable complications", "overcome many obstacles" and also a nice "I could not bring together the notables of the place as soon as I wanted".

6. Importance of the family

PRO: family spirit

In Chinese culture, family relationships are the most important element in a person's life. Therefore the family spirit in Salesian institutions was at the beginning of Salesian work in China a wonderful means to win the hearts of young people.

The Constitutions speak of personal and pastoral relationships based on the heart, of friendship with the students, of first step, cordiality, affection. The family spirit is a Salesian characteristic that opens hearts to young Chinese people. "Treating everyone good, with regard, cordiality, sincerity"; always being the first to greet, to respect the authorities, to defend the rights of others, created 'an environment of lively sympathy for our work'.

Cardinal Zen recalls: "the meal was never skipped with the aspirantate. On the other hand, we still often got up with so much hunger. All life was very disciplined, yet how much joy! And what is the secret? I think it was the same as in Valdocco of the early times: the pity, the family spirit and the look of Don Braga. ".

CON: Individualism and lack of social solidarity

Family ties are very strong in China. However, Confucius lists only five fundamental relationships: parents-children; husband wife; brothers; friends; ruler-subject. Within these bonds there is a deep and complex network of relationships.

In China the individual always exists within particular relationships. This is positive. At the same time, as a reaction to daily living in this network there is a natural continuous movement towards some form of personal independence. Canazei wrote for the canonical visit: "Undoubtedly every educational system, including ours, must be adapted to the particular situation of the Chinese, who are gifted with great intelligence but little heart". In their educational work the Salesians in China had to deal with this cultural reality which, as happens in every place, also influenced the relational dynamics of the new arrivals, pushing towards individualism.

7. Respect for traditions ("I do not create, transmit") and the value of history

PRO: preserve the Salesian traditions.

The importance of traditions is a visible characteristic of Chinese culture. When something is appreciated it becomes tradition, passed on to subsequent generations or at least transmitted from year to year. This characteristic has done so much good for the inculturation of the Salesian charism. What was introduced as a Salesian in China was preserved.

From the beginning there was an awareness of the advanced Chinese culture and the need to distinguish "civilization" from "Salesian work", which were not the same thing, as perhaps in other parts of the world. On the occasion of the Vatican missionary exhibition in 1924, Fr Ricaldone wrote: "For the already civilized countries, where there are Missions of ours, such as in Palestine, Egypt, the Cape of Good Hope, China, etc., the programs of the mentioned courses will be similar to those of those used in Europe, with modifications brought by local uses "

WITH difficulty in embodying the newness of the charisma

A company that loves traditions is even slower to welcome new ones. Uniformity in China is a felt value.

The charisma vs inculturation dilemma became the root sometimes of heated comparisons between the province and the apostolic Vicariate. In those years the charisma prevails, there was not enough attention to local culture and the dramatic changes taking place in China. "Many times the young Chinese are not healthy to err, they do not know how to perform acts that are at odds with the delicate feeling of us men of old Europe" (Braga). This encounter / clash with deep-rooted traditions sometimes very different from the Christian message is not, however, exclusive to the Chinese mission, so it is not necessary to add anything else.

8. The importance of society

PRO: diffusion of the faith

The Chinese Christian families have as their characteristic a deep-rooted loyalty to their faith. The Christians increased a lot in China between 1911 and 1949. The Inter Nos Bulletin of 1925 reports many "joys for the missionaries": "intimate consolations, small churches, great faith in the holidays, strong and heartfelt devotion, baptisms" the feast of Christmas was really impressive ”.

The solidity of the faith of the Chinese shines in the numerous confreres who faced death and imprisonment rather than renounce their faith, including Pietro Ye, Paolo Fong, Francesco Liang, Paolo Lin, Giuseppe Seng, Francesco Tsiang, Francesco Wong, Marco Wong , Gerolamo Yip, Mattia Yao, Giovanni Yu.

WITH Political opposition to religion

Three elements represent the heart of Chinese politics in the 1900s: the transition to the republic after millennia of empire; the conflictual relationship with foreign countries; the influence of new ideas and ideologies, for example Marxism-Leninism, of Russian origin. The Salesians had to adapt to this situation of political uncertainty.

In 1928, at the end of a special visit, the visitor Fr Ricaldone wrote among the suggestions: “In institutions where they are internal, Christians are separated from pagans; the experience advises such separation and the reasons are known ".

In the 1920s and 1930s the growing spread of atheist and anticlerical communism caused much suffering to the Salesians. Don Braga “at Christmas 1923 the communists had organized a demonstration against Christmas. Ours, united in league with two Protestant schools, diverted the meeting ”. On the internal bulletin Inter Nos between 1925 and 1930 there was a lot of news on problems with pirates and nationalist soldiers and the communists, little on inculturation [82] . In the 1920s the anti-imperialist movement also turned towards the importation of foreign goods and later towards foreign missionaries.

9. Strong sense of race.

PRO: foreign missionaries

The Chinese have always been fascinated by foreigners, especially Westerners. Matteo Ricci and the first Jesuits were well received because they brought something original.

In this environment, European or American Salesian missionaries brought a great deal of fresh enthusiasm and joyful renewal. Western clerics in their twenties, although starting from the Chinese language and culture, were a visible sign of the originality of Salesian institutions compared to Chinese schools. If still today (2014) being able to send children to an international school is considered a sign of high education in China, we think how it could have been in the early 1900s. How many young Chinese were proud of having a foreign assistant or teacher!

CON: foreign missionaries

Distrust is a characteristic of Chinese civilization. In a positive sense it can be called "prudence". Two elements: mistrust of strangers in general, even greater distrust towards foreigners. In many cases in China we only trust our own family. Furthermore, there is often great distrust of the news. Confucius said "I do not create, I transmit".

Add to this nationalism, which is very strong in a country like China which, unlike Italy or central Europe, has never known a dramatic change in borders and government structures. In the years 25-28 a blaze of ardent nationalism was lit all over China and anti-foreign and anti-religious demonstrations multiplied throughout the country "

Despite the renewal of the hierarchy with the nunzio Costantini, the Primum Concilium Sinense of 1924 and the first Chinese bishops (1926), despite the encyclicals Maximum Illud (1919) and Rerum Ecclesiae (1926), the enemies of the Church often exploited the image of a "foreign" church to attack it.

10. Pragmatism and practical sense

PRO: authorita 'religious

Chinese culture is pragmatic, practical, ready to recognize the objective value of positive interventions and contributions to the well-being of the people. The Salesians were able to offer visible practical contributions also thanks to their specific status as religious. "People more than loving us were afraid of us. We were respected because they belonged to nations that had concessions in Shanghai, and Tientsin, in Beijing. However, none of us take advantage of this privileged position except to defend the rights of our Christians "(Braga)

Objectively, the small privileges enjoyed by foreign missionaries were very useful in facilitating the work, in terms of permits, visas, aid, various support and appeal to benefactors. The period between the two world wars is recognized as a time very favorable to Christian missions in China, due to the great freedom of action of the religious and the respect of the civil authorities.

CON: poor tradition of Chinese Christian mystics.

There is no doubt that Chinese culture has no sense of God acting in history as rooted as the Western Judeo-Christian tradition.

This has always made missionary work in China very special. If the missionaries reduced the Gospel to moral teaching (as in the 17th and 18th centuries), the Chinese responded by saying they had an older moral tradition. If the Church presented itself as the bearer of material progress (as in the 18th and 19th centuries), the Chinese responded that their progress had begun 5,000 years earlier. Evangelization was therefore considered direct proselytizing to the most culturally weak classes.

The Salesians adopted a regional approach: no forcing or obligation when it comes to a religious choice. In 1931 a former paper factory became a college, the Salesian house in Aberdeen. For this reason, in school regulations "to avoid misunderstandings, do not use the word" Christian education ".

Salesians and education in Latin America

Juan Bottasso, sdb

The theme is enormously broad. In order to stay within the time limits assigned to me, I have no choice but to remain very general, giving up abundant historical and statistical data which, in any case, would end up tiring. I will limit myself to giving an idea of ​​the development of those lines that have guided the activity of the Congregation on the continent, up to the middle of the twentieth century, pointing out the factors that have influenced the changes of course in the various historical moments.

Latin America is the continent where, in its first century of life, the Salesian Congregation experienced the greatest and most homogeneous development: in fact, very soon it reached all the countries and, in many of them, it became numerically the most consistent .

From the very beginning, in Don Bosco's intentions, the missions were a major concern. However, once the Salesians arrived on the labor camp, the tension between two points of view that appear evident in the correspondence between the Founder and the first missionaries immediately arose. Don Bosco insisted that they reach Patagonia as soon as possible and they pointed out that the urgencies were even greater in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, especially among Italian emigrants, disregarded by the Church, but not by the Socialists and the Freemasons.

Overcoming the enormous initial difficulties, the Salesians finally reached Patagonia but, in Argentina as in all other Latin American countries, the great development of the Salesian presence will be urban. The strictly missionary work will always be given great importance but, from the quantitative point of view, the number of confreres dedicated to it will be relatively very limited, even if the Salesian Bulletin, giving greater emphasis to this activity, will offer a different image.

With the massive migratory waves from Europe, the indigenous people of the continent were becoming an increasingly minority presence. The multitudes of which Don Bosco saw Patagonia populated, with the expeditions of the generals Rosas in 1853 and Roca in 1878, were reduced to shreds of hunted and dispersed peoples.

In other countries the indigenous population remained and remains much more substantial, but the Salesians, at least until the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, dedicated themselves almost exclusively to the so-called "primitives" (Fueghini, Bororos, Xavantes, Shuar, Yanomami .... ). This is explained: they were the groups that populated the Apostolic Vicariates, expressly entrusted to the Salesians by the Holy See. Those of the Andes and Mesoamerica were immensely more numerous but, according to the theology of the time, they ran less danger of getting lost, because they were already almost all baptized. At that time there was no talk of announcing the Gospel to peoples with their cultures, nor of proposing an integral salvation, which did not concern only the soul.

It should also be added that, for the same reason, during the epoch we are dealing with (until 1950) the Salesians did not dedicate themselves specifically to the Negro population, even though, statistically, it far exceeded the indigenous population, especially in the Caribbean and Brazil.

However, it should be added that in some colleges as much as the Salesians, as well as the FMA, no black pupils were admitted for a time.

A fundamental fact to be kept in mind is that, at the moment when the Salesians set foot in Latin America, liberal ideas reach a moment of greater affirmation, with a strong anticlerical connotation, fueled by the omnipresent Masonry. It was, among other things, a reaction to the typical situation of the ages of the Colony and of the first decades after independence, during which the Church, supported by the conservative parties of the terrentenenti, had enjoyed the absolute mono-monopoly on education.

Liberalism with a different rhythm in the various countries, but in an unstoppable way, reaches political power everywhere. The first thing we do is to nationalize education, to prevent it from influencing the Church. The password is secularity, which is almost always read in the version of a belligerent and rabid anticlericalism.

In many countries the Salesians, and religious in general, suffer enormous limitations; they are even expelled from Ecuador. The recovery will be slow, but the whole Church, not only the Salesians, will be very careful to see the first signs of the easing of restrictions imposed by liberal governments, in order to regain a presence and a voice in society.

It should be borne in mind that de-Christianization reached only a very small percentage of society, being, more than anything else, a typical phenomenon of the intellectual classes. The departure from the Church of the working masses, which in those years will occur in Europe, is completely unknown in Latin America, also because the working class is still practically non-existent.

After the First World War, with the exception of Mexico, the first signs of the thaw begin to become evident and the sector to which the Church mainly addresses is that of education. The effort is aimed at the youth of the middle and upper classes. The popular education is not neglected at all, but the importance of forming cadres with a Christian vision of society is felt, in the hope that these can drag the masses. It cannot be denied that this strategy has borne fruit. A good part of the Latin American ruling class, around the middle of the twentieth century, will come out of Catholic schools, even if the effectiveness of this data, in the following decades, will be seriously questioned.

In this context, congregations and orders established over time on the territory strengthen their presence in the educational sector. Others are added from Europe with this specific task and some are founded on the spot. All episcopates encourage this orientation. 

The female congregations that, in previous centuries had devoted themselves almost exclusively to the contemplative life, massively orient their patrols to school work. The phenomenon will have a considerable influence on society, at a time when women began to have an increasing weight in institutions and public life.

Since liberalism had attacked religious education, accusing it of being the bearer of obscurantism and constituting a brake on the advance of science, the schools set up by the congregations tried to deny that stereotype and tried to be quite the opposite: modern , equipped, in the forefront on all fronts. Very often they succeeded, so much that several of these educational centers became much more prestigious than the state ones and were preferred by the population. But soon the ambiguity of the fact became evident. Since they had to finance themselves, they gradually became institutions that favored those who were able to pay for the study. The Salesians tried to escape this logic and strove to remain faithful to the popular classes, but they did not succeed in all cases.

Moreover, their institutions very rarely became as exclusive as those of other congregations, perhaps with some exceptions in Chile.

The effort of renewal was undertaken by our Congregation in all countries, but, in some of these, the task was particularly difficult, because the obstacles imposed by adverse governments had reduced their presence to the slightest expression.

In this regard, I would like to mention a text that refers to Ecuador. Evidently it reflects the situation of a particular country but, without wishing to generalize, it illustrates a fairly widespread trend on the continent. The observation is due to the father Juan Vigna, a man with an acute capacity of observation and very frank in his expressions. He arrived in Ecuador from Italy in l266 and played a leading role in organizing the Vicariate Apostolic of Méndez and Gualaquiza, as well as in the province. I give him the word.

“On my arrival in Ecuador the landscape was something depressing, for a Salesian who came from the center of the Salesian work. The colleges and works were "poor" in every sense, in terms of organization, human preparation, presentation, personnel and activities. It was easy to guess the lack of cohesion, of coordinated personal initiatives, of organized planning, of discipline, even religious. There was a feeling that the work was going on in a spirit of inertia, but lacked the enthusiasm, the enthusiasm, the fire that warmed and pushed towards improvement ..

Salesian work lived in a state of almost total economic poverty, almost of misery. All the works in its manifestations suffered from deficiencies of every kind: each individual, in order to produce, needs a sufficiently comfortable environment; otherwise, even its psychological structure suffers and can close in on itself, become atrophied, inhibit itself. When, by religious obedience, I assumed the leadership of the Cristobal Colón College, the largest college that the Congregation had on his behalf in l939, I could still see and feel the consequences of the ideas that the Episcopal Curia of Guayaquil had of the Salesians, as well as the Jesuit fathers of the time, and I still feel that feeling of violent reaction that I then experienced internally.

The father then goes on to recount the projects he developed with Fr. Cayetano Tarruel to overturn the situation, plans that he could not realize, because almost immediately he was returned to the Amazon missions, with the position of pro-Vicar. But things were already beginning to move; the P. Tarruel will be the builder of the new, modern and large college building, from which five presidents of the republic will emerge.

The ten years of the inspectorate of his father Giuseppe Corso (l938- 1948) represent the phase of change. The same Father Vigna, referring to the end of that period and the following two decades, with obvious satisfaction:

“In the Andes and on the Costa, Salesian activity was gaining more and more vigor, consistency and importance. Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca now presented large-scale works in the eyes of society: educators with higher education, technical, agronomic, pedagogical and philosophical studies. Salesian personnel specialized in and out of the country and formed an intellectually imposing and respectable whole. From the economic point of view the province was overcoming the period of poverty and narrowness. The works presented to the public's eyes, not only a decent appearance but, in the majority, an imposing appearance. The school population that received education and education from the Salesians, now added tens of thousands of students ".

It will be this "grandeur" that will make the generation of young post-conciliar Salesians curl up a bit in the whole of Latin America, but this is another era. The young "wreckers" had not known the harsh experience of the first half of the century and, hastily, judged the past without taking into account the historical circumstances and departed from different sociological and even theological points of view. Today the judgments have become much calmer, but there is no doubt that the sensitivity towards social problems is much greater.

It is known that Don Bosco was characterized by the impulse given to the schools of "arts and crafts" (artes y oficios), destined for the poorest groups of society. In Latin America the same pattern repeated at Valdocco was repeated but, approaching the middle of the century, circumstances led to a change. Governments were pushing towards industrialization, they were beginning to talk about "import substitution policy" and, in response to these demands, little by little, arts and crafts schools were turning into technical colleges. The service they offered to society cannot be denied but, at the same time, it must be admitted that they distanced themselves from the primitive recipients, moving towards the middle class.

Public opinion was also pressing in this direction. On the continent, the tendency to escape manual labor is clear.

I would like to add a couple of data to complete the whole picture and give a more exact idea of ​​the period I was involved with.

The first refers to an aspect of which we must not exaggerate the imposition, but neither ignore it completely. After the First World War, as Rector Major Don Rinaldi and Prefect Don Ricaldone, there was a boom in vocations in Italy, with the consequent opening of numerous missionary aspirants. These young people in formation could not fail to feel the influence of the environment around them. If they left for the missions they brought with them a mentality that was quite widespread and some arrived in America with clear sympathies for the discipline and for the fascist organization. The same will happen later with Francoism. There is a curious photograph that portrays Mons. Comin on his arrival at the mission of Méndez: he is seen passing between two wings of Shuar boys, who welcome him with the Roman salute!

But even among those, the most, who were not enthusiastic about that ideology, there was a clear awareness of being bearers of civilization in the world. These were the times when it was very common to hear the slogan: "evangelize by civilizing, civilizing by evangelizing". What "civilization" meant then was clear enough. This, moreover, was part of a mentality that was then widespread throughout the Western world, which did not yet give much importance to the first shocks of the independence movements that manifested themselves in all the colonies. Then came the second World War to bleed Europe and make it lose its hegemony in the world. Latin America had been independent for more than a century but the local governments turned the civilizing mission towards the indigenous peoples who survived within their borders. The flag of Brazil proclaims it clearly: Order and progress.

The various governments that solicited the creation of Apostolic Vicariates to the Holy See cited the civilization of the savages as the reason for this creation.

And to finish (the second point) I want to make a brief mention of the missions. The theology of the "implantatio ecclesiae", which was beginning to be part of the reflections of the missionologists in Belgium, France and Germany, entered the Salesian formation programs very late. The traditional one of "going to save souls" prevailed for a long time.

The abundance of vocations, especially in Italy and Spain, pushed the Salesian bishops of the missions to look for personnel in those countries, rather than to work to find and prepare them on the spot. After more than a century, with the exception of Brazil (where the change was more in name than substance), the Apostolic Vicariates survive in Latin Amertica, almost disappeared from Asia and Africa. But they do not have an easy life because the source has dried up too quickly that, from the outside, the staff provided. More than ecclesiological reflection, it was the crisis of vocations in Europe that forced us to change the register.


This my synthesis is enormously generic and perhaps some countries will hardly recognize themselves in the description. For example, in Chile and Argentina the self-liberal pressure was much lower than in countries like Mexico, Uruguay, Guatemala, Ecuador.

I would not like it to appear too critical or pessimistic.

After all, the balance of Salesian education in Latin America up until the middle of the 20th century is very positive. If we bear in mind the devastation that the Church of the continent had produced, the shock of independence and the difficult phases of settlement of the various countries in the following decades, it is indisputable that the contribution that Catholic education has made to restore visibility and vitality to the Church in society it was enormous and, in this sense, also the Salesian presence had a great importance. Nor can we forget how much it served to lend cohesion to the social fabric to improve the level of the poor and populous classes.

In the second half of the century the situation changed, but it is wise to be cautious before judging the work of the Salesians of the first decades, in light of what happened with the renewal brought by the Ecumenical Council and the CELAM assembly in Medellin, in 1968.

The first Salesian works in Haiti

Aline Nicolas, fma

In this last year of preparation for the bicentenary of the birth of St. John Bosco, the whole Salesian family working in Haiti, especially the daughters of Mary Help of Christians, are honored by this invitation and we thank you. The theme, on which you have proposed us to intervene: "the first Salesian works in Haiti", offers us a real opportunity to give glory to God for our Congregation, for the good that it does in the world, particularly in Haiti. We have divided the theme like this:the educational context upon the arrival of the daughters of Mary Help of Christians and of the Salesians of Don Bosco in Haiti; the first foundation in Haiti: Port-au-Prince 1935; the Salesian presences multiply; the canonical erection of the Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours Province; the Salesians of Don Bosco in Haiti; the expansion of the Salesians in Haitian land; complementarity in the different works; educate, educate, train, social help, help the marginalized, educational life; the great orientations of the daughters of Mary Help of Christians and of the Salesians of Don Bosco for the future.

1. The educational context upon the arrival of the daughters of Mary Help of Christians and of the Salesians of Don Bosco in Haiti

Certain historical and sociological testimonies of the Caribbean make it clear that the education of the colony begins in the islands with religious instruction. One of the concerns of the Franciscan fathers, landed on the Spanish island, was to form the heart and spirit of the cacic children. Some were therefore educated in religion. However, this desire was brief; mining work was more important for Spain; and the Indians, annihilated by the bad treatments of which they were the object, were replaced by the most resistant black slaves, torn from the African lands. These were catechized, baptized and attended churches. This education was also aimed at adults, adolescents and children.

From independence to the revolution of 1843 the effort is remarkable for the implementation of some public and private schools in the country. Schooling attempts to take root in a state whose independence was not yet recognized by the world. Some reorganization movements try to correct the gaps created by Haitian education itself. In a certain way, schooling has contributed to the construction of the Haitian nation, even though it has not succeeded in preparing real national promoters: what pushed the observers to talk about the inability of the Haitian school.

The Haitian State and the Catholic Church, through the agreement of 1860, favored the establishment of Congreganist schools in the country. Around 1935 these schools became numerous and competitive for quality. It is necessary to emphasize a certain autonomy of these famous schools, which organized themselves as they could for the success of their recipients. It should be noted that Haiti has always enjoyed a unique privilege: the youth of the country, creative, open to knowledge and receptive of all the good that is offered to them. A youth who always hopes to find adequate places of formation to become useful to his society. 

Still, long before the "Dominican vespers" [83] of 1935, our compatriots were often driven out of the neighboring Republic because they lived there illegally. The surviving children, after having been saved from persecution and death, arrived without their parents, abandoned without consideration at the border, without a functional structure to accommodate them. So! Poor little girl needs to be accompanied to face the future. For this purpose, the government of Stenio Vincent appealed to the Salesian missions that have obtained in other countries, especially in some of our Latin American neighbors, the results that allow us to expect just as much in the Haitian sphere.

2. The first foundation of the daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Haiti: Port-au-Prince 1935

At the end of the American occupation between 1934 and 1935, the first lady of the Republic, Résia Vincent, sister of President Sténio Vincent, had an orphanage built to accommodate these surviving children as they arrived. For this purpose, she applied for valid researches with the help of the apostolic nuncio, Monsignor Giuseppe Fietta, who promised her the Salesians of Don Bosco, specialists in the education of poor children and orphans. (The agreement was signed on February 25, 1935).

While in Haiti the preparations for the new opera were going quite well, in Italy an extraordinary enthusiasm animated superior and nuns. After the traditional ceremonies of missionary expeditions, on 10 August 1935, mother Felicina Fauda, ​​Sister Paolina Chiodi, Sister Vincenza Giaj Levra, Sister Marie-Thérèse Nass, Sister Anna Mourer, Sister Catherine Barabino and Sister Julie Olive embark on the ship "Le Flandre ”in which there were already 8 Salesians, clerics and brothers who traveled to Santo Domingo to open the first Salesian school work, a school of arts and crafts. 

The first of September 1935 is the blessed day for the poor children of Haiti: the head of protocol of the presidential palace, Mr. Jean Fouchard, the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince Monsignor Joseph Le Gouaze, Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty Secretary of the nunciature of Haiti, the parish priest of St. Joseph, Fr Louis Sauveur, welcome the nuns. 

On 7 October 1935, the nuns begin the inscriptions to found their first internship at the Saline. From the beginning, we can count 65 girls from 9 to 12 years old. On 8 December of the same year, the feast of Mary Immaculate, some girls are welcomed for the oratory. In 1938 the expansion of the oratory already occurs. On Sundays in Sunday the number increases to reach 500 girls, who are preparing for the sacraments. Slowly, God's grace transforms hearts and social life itself. The sisters, encouraged, also extend their apostolate in the neighborhood of San Martin, 20 minutes away from the house. 

The courageous missionaries, finding a large number of illiterate and unemployed girls in their neighborhood of "la Saline", opened for them, in 1940, the daily evening school in which, in addition to the classical courses, they activated embroidery and sewing courses. This is the beginning of the social center for girls.

In October 1945 the primary school for interiors was born, which grew day by day. We need to think of reinforcements for so many works. For this reason, the first Haitian vocation was accepted in 1946. On 6 August 1948, the first daughter of Mary Help of Christians, Sister Marie Thérèse Lamaute, made her first vows; in 1949, Sister Marie Altagrâce Fernande Cantave, second native nun that the Lord offered to the Congregation; August 6, 1950, Sister Anne-Marie Nicolle Gaillard, foundress of almost all the other Salesian houses in Haiti. On November 5, 1947, with the power of charity, the community opened the doors of primary school to the girls of the area. This is an important milestone that allows a publicly recognized action in the neighborhood [84]and opens a future full of hope. In school the teachers complain about the inability of some girls to learn, probably due to malnutrition; then, in 1948, the cafeteria began its service with 200 daily meals.

In the Holy Year 1950 the association of devotees of Mary Help of Christians was born. On December 14, 1953, the valiant religious, trusting in Divine Providence, laid the foundation stone of the church dedicated to our Madonna Ausiliatrice, which was inaugurated on March 20, 1955. For 23 years, the native missionaries and nuns worked tirelessly in the town of Saline. The task was difficult and sometimes discouraging, because this village, entrusted to them, is badly seen by many because of its moral and material misery. The sisters, however, are very attached to it and receive the consolation of the sympathy of the Haitians who greatly admire their work so much so that, to show their great consideration to the daughters of Mary Help of Christians, the Haitian government decorates the superior, Sister Augustine Cayoli, of the rank of Knight of Honor,

2.1. Salesian presences are multiplying

Thus presences multiply. In 1958, it was the opening of the orphanage of the Infant Jesus and a primary school in Pétion-Ville, Jacquet. In 1962, the first departure to the provincial cities, more precisely in the northern region, for the opening of the Maria Ausiliatrice house, a fundamental school, a professional center with parish catechesis in Cap-Haitien. In 1970, at Thorland Marie Régine, the opening of a primary school in a worker's environment. In 1984, the nuns oriented themselves towards the south, opening the house of the Cayes: basic school 1 and 2 grade and pre-vocational, for the poorest children in the city and around late school.

In the year 1988, the aspirantate Laura Vicuña opens its doors to Thorland. On August 5, 1990, after 55 years of Salesian presence in Haiti and effective educational work of our courageous missionaries who were able to attract many young people to share the Salesian charism with them, the general mother of that time, Mother Marinella Castagno, established the novitiate in Haiti, thanks to the support of the Provincial Mother Lourdes Pino Capote, and to the full satisfaction of the whole Salesian family in Haiti and of the local church. The house is under the protection of Mary Help of Christians, with Sister Marie Sylvita Elie as her first teacher.

On March 19, 1991, with the canonical decree of erection, the Vice Province of "Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours" was inaugurated by Mother Lourdes Pino Capote, then a visiting representative of the mother mother General Marinella Castagno; Sister Marie Josseline Laguerre was chosen as Superior of the Vice Province. During these 6 years, the sisters have made new conquests for the Lord. According to the budget, in 1992 the Gesù Bambino community opened in Cité Militaire, located in the northern suburb of the capital. On August 31, 1994, the official establishment of the Cité Lintheau community took place. On September 24, 1995, three Salesian sisters left for the south-east to bring the charism to Jacmel. On the feast day of St. Joseph, in the year 1996, the provincial house began to write its history in gold letters. 

2.2 Canonical erection of the Province of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Six years have just passed, and with the decree of canonical erection of the general mother, Mother Antonia Colombo and her council, on 16 July 1997, the "Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours" Province is created. A significant year, precisely because the world is celebrating the 125th mo anniversary of the foundation. Three years later, on 11 June 2000, Pentecost Sunday, strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Salesian Sisters opened a new home for Kenscoff. In 2002, without losing time, the daughters of Mary Help of Christians leave for Hinche. On 15 August 2003, Ouanaminthe's house opens. As true daughters of Don Bosco and Mother Mazarello, the Salesian Sisters go to Anse-a-Veau on 21 July 2008 to start a fundamental school and work with other volunteer groups.

On 8 December 2011, 170 years of the birth of the Salesian work for the benefit of poor youth, 11 months after the terrible earthquake of 12 January 2010 that devastated the Haitian capital, the Lord allowed the FMA to lay the first stone for the building of a colossal work in favor of the smallest of Haiti: the orphanage of the Croix-des-bouquets for 150 children, with the preschool and a fundamental school.

3. The Salesians of Don Bosco in Haiti

In 1849 Don Bosco had promised to send his Salesians to Haiti [85] and on May 27, 1936, after insistent requests made by the bishops and the Haitian government, the first Salesians were welcomed by Archbishop Joseph Le Gouaze of Port-au - Prince, Monsignor Giuseppe Fietta, apostolic nuncio in Haiti and President Sténio Vincent, to take over the management of the national school of arts and crafts at the Saline. The pionniers are Fr Pierre Marie Gimbert of French nationality, Fr Alphonse Gravejat, the coadjutors Adrien Massa, Barthelemy Minoli, Albert Coletto, the cleric Jacques Dorion; don Antoine Figura, who arrived on 8 November 1938, and Fr Ange Garau on 4 March 1939. 

The school begins on October 5, 1936 with some students in precarious conditions that the pioneers recalled with pride and emotion. Four trades were planned: mechanics, cabinet-making, sewing-sewing, shoe-making. The first workshop in progress was that of cabinet-making with the coadjutor Adrien Massa. The building for the mechanical laboratory would have been available in January 1938. In October 1938 there were 64 students distributed as follows: 17 in carpentry; 18 in tailoring; 18 in shoemaking; 11 in mechanics. The primary school had two classrooms, middle and elementary, and a preparatory course for the survivors of Santo Domingo. These workshops, run by dynamic and competent Salesians, will give impetus to the school that will become the best professional school in the country.

Without wasting time, local vocations begin to arrive and develop. Fr Serge Lamaute, the first Haitian Salesian, took his vows in 1945. The following year, Master Hubert Sanon, the first coadjutor, made his vows in Cuba. In 1948, a group of five youths was sent to France to do the novitiate and philosophy studies.

3.1 The expansion of the Salesians in Haitian land.

During 15 years the missionaries and the young Salesian Haitians engaged in the national school of giving you and jobs, in French école d'arts et métiers (ENAM), giving this institution a good reputation in terms of professional education. In 1951 they opened a work at Petion Ville; in 1955 the Fondation Vincent in Cap Haitien was created by the Salesians, for a project of middle school of agriculture and the first parish dedicated to St. John Bosco in Haitian territory.

In 1981, the Don Bosco Thorland training and recreation center opens. In 1982 the Salesians took over the diocesan center of arts and crafts of Bergeau, in the Cayes. In 1995 the house of Fleuriot was inaugurated to welcome the post-novices and, in 1998, the provincial house in Drouillard. In 2002 a technical school will be established in Fort Liberté. In 2004 the work of Gressier begins and, in October 2007, the St. John Bosco vocational school of the Cardinal Keeler center in Gonaives.

Since January 1992, Haiti which was part of the Province of Mexico, then of the Antilles with Cuba, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, has become a visitatory based in Port-au-Prince under the patronage of Blessed Philip Rinaldi. Currently present in 5 geographical regions of Haiti, the Salesians run 9 vocational training centers, without forgetting the work of the small schools of P. Bonhen and the laboratories of the Lakay-Lakou project for street children in Port-au-Prince and Cap -Haitien.

In 2008, a project to reform the national arts and crafts school was launched to transform it into a technical teaching superior school. On December 18, 2009, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Salesian Congregation of Don Bosco, the normal Salesian technical school was inaugurated. The 12 January earthquake led to a rethink and refinement of this reform.

The trades taught in the Salesian training centers along these seventy-nine years are: carpentry-cabinet-making, sewing-cutting, shoemaking, industrial mechanics, masonry, automobile mechanics, electricity, agriculture, IT, home arts. These crafts maintain their importance even if there is a need to modernize them and add other specialties according to the needs of the country and the labor market.

4. Complementarity in the different works
4.1 Educate, Instruct, Train 

Today the sisters work in 7 regions of the Haitian republic. The quality of their presence is increasingly asserted in education, which is for them the key to the development and humanization of every society. They promote the rights of poor children and young people in working-class neighborhoods through 15 educational centers including 12 basic schools, 3 secondary schools with included vocational courses, 2 normal schools, 4 youth and professional centers, 9 oratories for children, 3 family homes for girls in difficult situations and a structure to welcome and accompany the "street children" who are constantly increasing in our cities. They also promote the preparation of good techniques for the country with the professional training given in the Maria Ausiliatrice hotel school,

4.2 Social help, help to the marginalized, educational life

The daughters of Mary Help of Christians promote the right of children and young people to Christian formation, identity, culture, associationism, equality, solidarity, fraternity. Numerous activities, such as reinforcement and dissemination of educational institutions, fairs with differentiated themes, awareness forums are made to educate children and young people about socio-political responsibility, honesty, care for the environment and leadership, without forgetting commitment groups such as CACH (Active Citizens for Building Haiti), the catechetical centers that accompany hundreds of children doing their first communion every year, many young people who make confirmation, illegitimate couples who regularize themselves. On solidarity,

The sisters also promote the right of young people and children to health. Almost all the centers have a school canteen which ensures a hot dish to the recipients. In every center there is an infirmary with the presence of a full-time nurse and a doctor who passes periodically to ensure a regular accompaniment to the health status of the children.

The daughters of Mary Help of Christians reach 11708 children in formal education of which 90% are girls, although, since 1982, some schools have been open to mixité. Between formal and informal education the sisters reach 18082 people. In their educational service, the sisters find the help of other branches of the Salesian family. Indeed, the educational presence of the laity constitutes a positive force for the proper functioning of the works. There are 834 lay people (teaching and administrative and / or support staff) who collaborate with the sisters in the noble commitment of education. Moreover, they feel fulfilled in their mission.

Alongside their specific curriculum of study, the pedagogical and Salesian formation of teachers is ensured with weekly or monthly meetings, seminars organized at local or provincial level. The sisters made the choice of a strategic plan for teacher training to make them more able to transmit the contents to the recipients, to combat school failure, a persistent scourge in Haiti, and to accompany them on the path to a new vision of education in today's world.

5. Great guidelines of the daughters of Mary Help of Christians and of the Salesians for the future

Two offices, one for development and the other pedagogical, were created to follow the FMA projects more closely and, on the part of the Salesians, a planning and development office works to advance the works of the Vice Province of Don Filippo Rinaldi. Thus, with their presence, Salesians and Salesians constitute a very representative force not only for society but also in the Church of Haiti - which appreciates the Salesian charism so much - where many services are entrusted to the FMA and to the Salesians: Service to the Nunciature, to the Office of Religious, in the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education.

Another sign that allows us to perceive a good implantation of the charism in Haiti is the growth of vocations. Currently, the Province of Notre Dame du Perpetuel Secours has eighty-five nuns, seventy of whom have perpetual vows, eight missionaries, a sister in neo-missionary formation, fifteen juniors, ten novices, three postulants, five aspirants and numerous young people who attend our homes in look for their vocation. Parish nuns are studying in Haiti or abroad to qualify for the purpose of offering better training to young people. The sisters are prepared and continue to form themselves in various disciplines: catechetics, Silesian spirituality, religious sciences, education sciences, human sciences, juridical sciences, administrative sciences, normal school, accounting and languages.

Seventy Salesians in Haiti, of whom 45 are priests, 3 are coadjutors and 3 are missionaries. Among the priests 6 are studying, 1 in the United States for pastoral care of Haitian immigrants, a cleric in training, 8 in philosophy, 10 in theology, 3 novices in the Dominican Republic, 2 Salesian Haitians on mission, a bishop for the Archdiocese of Cap-Haitien. The Salesian family in Haiti is composed of the Salesians of Don Bosco, the daughters of Mary Help of Christians, the Salesians / cooperators, devotees of Mary Help of Christians (ADMA), from the associations of the former students, from community of Don Bosco missions, from the aspiring VDBs, from the Mamma Margherita association. Many engagement groups flourish in Salesian homes in Haiti.

The sisters are committed to doing an overall work with the Salesians who, like Don Bosco, are present in the works and collaborate with them in the well-prepared overall pastoral care through a committee that allows them to do a work of evangelization and formation while trying to spread Salesian spirituality in the Salesian youth movement.

There is also work on the net through the school commission which, reinforced by the initiatives of the Salesian schools of America, produces fruit in the lives of children and young people by offering them an educational and pastoral spirituality to be good Christians and honest citizens for society .

The sons of Don Bosco of Haiti work above all in evangelization, education and vocation promotion. They renew their commitment to work with high-risk children and young people as privileged recipients. They educate to a culture of solidarity for social, economic and environmental development.

6. Conclusion

Here is the work carried out by the daughters and sons of Don Bosco, since their arrival. Thanks to the witness of the pioneers, Salesian work is well established with significant presences in places of great poverty. Their work continues over time thanks to the attention and direction received from the congregation. Because, always, but especially after the terrible earthquake, the superiors of the daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the superiors of the Salesians have made numerous visits to Haiti, encouraging and reviving the fire of God's love in each, each. Renewed in their consecration, the Salesians and Salesians feel better prepared to accompany the children, the young in their struggle for life.

Praised be God for these women and these men who, with faith in Jesus Christ, through word, their life, their work, had the courage to witness to the Salesian charism in this portion of the church in Haiti.

DEVELOPMENTS OF THE SALESIAN CHARISM THROUGH THE NORMAL SCHOOLS THAT WERE UNDER THE ADDRESS AND ANIMATION OF THE FMA IN COLOMBIA AT THE FIRST HALF OF THE TWENTY-CENTURY

Sara Cecilia Sierra Jaramillo. fma

From 1897 [86] , the first Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA) arrived in Bogota and with them the Salesian feminine educational proposal, coming from Europe and generated in particular historical conditions to be inserted, from then on, into the dynamics of Colombian society, through a process of appropriation, where the appropriate is recreated permanently, because this process is not limited to the reception of knowledge and practices, but also supposes what emerges from the action exercised by the new cultural context on what arrives 

It is from this perspective that the "Developments of Salesian Spirituality" are traced, which were fostered through the educational-pastoral action of the FMA, in the Normal Schools of Colombia, in the first half of the 20th century. Study that is carried out from two lines or benchmarks of analysis. The first has to do with the nature and priority objective in the animation of these institutions is: "train teachers", and the second referred to the charismatic component that carries the religious community itself, which prints a style, a character, an identity to the educational environment, and is precisely concerned with "teaching to live the mission of being a teacher", with the strength of those who do it by vocation.

The study on the first component offers a vision of the historical conditions that surrounded the Normal Schools of Colombia, under the direction of the FMA, in their priority task: "to train teachers". A process that is analyzed both from the internal dynamics of the nascent Republic, as well as from the newly founded Religious Institute, in the process of expansion and consolidation.

The second line of inquiry shows how normal schools become a training device based on an animation system and a production of knowledge. From these two referents, the charism is recreated and embodied in each teacher, in each Institution and in each pastoral educational practice.

1. THE NORMAL SCHOOL AND THE TRAINING PROCESSES OF TEACHERS

The normal schools supported by the infantile jjardines and the elementary schools, that were at the service of the processes of formation of teachers like "Annexed Schools [87] ", although not always by means of a legal disposition, become fields of application and multiplication of the Salesian educational proposal, in laboratories of cultural production and in referents of credibility for a society, which has great expectations in front of the community of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, which at the request of Father Rabagliati, Superior of the Salesian Fathers in this nation, they come to work together with them on the education of children and youth in the country [88] .

Let's start by pointing out as a mark of special historical significance, the fact that the first program of normal studies offered by the FMA in Colombia, is implemented in the physical plant of the College of La Merced in Bogota, former convent of the Capuchins, but taken by the government and destined to the education of the daughters of the heroes of the Independence. La Merced was the first official establishment in Colombia and the second in Latin America that offered baccalaureate studies to women. It was created at the initiative of José Rufino Cuervo, Governor of the Province of Bogotá, through the Decree of May 30, 1832, and with it new possibilities of promotion for women are opened.

During the War of a Thousand Days [89] (1899-1901), it was used as a military hospital. It is to this place where they move in 1903, the religious that from Nizza Monferrato, risk crossing the ocean to reach Colombian lands. The house [90] , which initially served them to live, in a few years it is small and uncomfortable, because new vocations and girls begin to arrive with which, in 1900, the educational work begins. It is to note, that the increase in the cost of the lease is another reason that urges them to leave. Poverty and scarcity [91], which lives a large part of the population, due to the internal conflict in the country and the devastating effects of the war that has been lived, are also characteristic of the foundations made in the first fifty years of the history of the FMA in Colombia.

The Sisters acquire the premises of La Merced, through a contract [92] that they formalize with the Ministry of Education, which in addition to giving social visibility to their work, allows them to have women as a priority recipient of their evangelizing mission, and their education as a fundamental apostolic action, thus responding to the mandate that, according to St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello, they received from above for the founding of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians [93] : "Take care of them are my daughters [ 94] "," I entrust them to you " [95] .

It is important to highlight that thanks to the management carried out before the Ministry of Education, by Messrs. Javier Tobar and Enrique Álvarez [96] , La Merced, until 1911, it was the Central House of the FMA in Colombia and a point of reference for the programs of teacher training [97] that are progressively implemented in the educational works that were being founded [98] .

In this task Sister Honorina Lanfranco [99] played a decisive role , as a teacher and intellectual of education, which imparts a style and character to the normal courses [100] , which were thought primarily from childhood education and of the institutions from which this population was attended, being a pioneer, and with it the FMA, in the theme of the kindergarten teachers, kindergartens and elementary schools throughout the country.

Thus, a few years after arriving in Colombia, they already have the opportunity to take care of the initial training of the teachers who will be in charge of the education of children. This is made possible thanks to a network of situations that are experienced not only in the country, but also in the nascent FMA Institute.

1.1. Tensions and resistances

The FMA arrive in Colombia towards the end of the historical period called "La Regeneración" [101] (1886-1903) and beginnings of the conservative hegemony (1903-1927), in which the Church recovers certain privileges in the educational field as a result of the resistance movement to the attempt of secularization that the radicals had fixed to the school in the previous years (1870-1886).

In this period, marked by the new Constitution of 1886 and the formalization of the Concordat between the Church and the State in 1887, Catholicism is declared as the religion of the nation and it is established that education is organized and directed in common agreement with the Church, to whom is delegated the moral formation and the ethical direction of society, in turn, is given control of public and private education and is made guardian of family and civilization. The State is responsible only for the transmission of knowledge.

Thanks to the conditions offered by this political framework of the current government, the arrival of numerous religious communities is allowed to take over the direction of education. The private secondary schools [102] , which is the case of the educational proposal that the FMA start at La Merced, have the faculty to grant the title of teacher to those who, as part of their high school studies, do the courses of normal, the majority for women and directed by religious congregations, consecrating in this way the hegemony of the catholic pedagogy as much in the education as in the formation of teachers [103] .

But this picture changes substantially from 1927, when the government began to gradually implement the recommendations made by the second German Pedagogical Mission [104] , hired by the conservative government in 1924, for the modernization of the State. The Ministry of Public Instruction is created and the ethical education of schoolchildren is established as the right of the State, and not of the Church, since until then it had been limited solely to the dissemination, promotion and financing of the sciences necessary for progress. It is argued that technical progress implies new values ​​and that citizen and public ethical training must be in accordance with these.

The liberal party (1930-1946), which assumes as the flag of its government, precisely, the unification and centralization of public education, becomes the subject of opposition by the conservatives, although they themselves were those who initially mobilized the process. The ecclesiastical hierarchy, in turn, feels attacked because its functions that it had traditionally carried out are removed.

Both the ones accuse the new government of violating the modern individual liberties and the traditional fueros of the moral of the Colombian people. The old quarrels are revived, that in 1876 unleashed the War of the Schools [105] (1876), at the beginning of the 20th century the war of the Thousand Days (1899 -1901) and at the end of the first half of the 20th century, the war civil with which the period of conservative restoration is installed (1946 - 957).

In each change of government there is a dismantling of the reforms and advances reached, where institutions and teachers live and suffer from a highly conflictive and politicized environment due to the interplay of relations established between the State, parties and the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Everyone is fighting or joining together to tell, in particular, primary school and Normal what kind of man they should form, for what kind of society and how to do it. 

1.2. From pole of transmission of a method to institution of knowledge

The normal school in Colombia [106] , since its creation by Law 6 of 1822, is established as a school of first letters that rigorously applies the method of mutual teaching of Joseph Lancaster [107] , being configured, as a model to teach the method and reproduce it in the Republic.

These conditions, as Zuluaga explains, [108] made the normal school an institution to train teachers by means of a teaching method that, far from strengthening its character as an institution of pedagogical knowledge, makes it simply a pole of dissemination of knowledge. mutual teaching, with a very simple projection in the office of teacher. Only with the Ospina Reform in 1844 will this situation be transformed. The normal school becomes more important and a precise relationship with the teacher's office. With it the strict emergence of said institution is favored, by separating the teacher's preparation from the spaces in which the teaching of the students was taught [109]. This institution not only houses the teaching method but also the pedagogy. It not only forms preceptors, it is empowered as an institution of pedagogical knowledge to intervene in pedagogical practice through its director. It gives way to the institutionality of pedagogical knowledge that consisted in the teaching of knowledge and the moralization of children.

1.3. New approaches, new practices

With the government of Mariano Ospina Rodríguez, the pestalozziana pedagogy was introduced in Colombia, through Mr. José María Triana at the Lancasterian Normal School of Bogotá between 1845 and 1847, as a resource to improve mechanical teaching in the grammar and arithmetic classes . A few years later, the Pestalozzian method is legitimized by the Organic Decree of Public Instruction of 1870, promulgated during the government of the radical liberals (1870-1886). It begins to be officially disseminated in the normal schools of the country by the Protestant teachers of the first German Pedagogical Mission (1872). This time it no longer appears as a simple procedure, but was proclaimed as a universal, theoretical and practical method for the normal schools of the country that advances and consolidates with the Second German Pedagogical Mission. 

In this process of innovation, the education of children and women receives a special impulse, the first normal female school of the country was founded in 1872 and, at the end of the twenties, it was promoted, as a government policy, its entry to the baccalaureate, which until then had been thought, almost exclusively, for men. Courses are offered for their commercial training and in other areas of knowledge. Law 28 of 1932 is enacted, through which civil rights are extended to women.

The Church and the conservatives reject the evolutionary concept of human development, which inspires the Pestalozzian approach, question the departure of women from the home and the processes of secularization of the State. They promote the War of the Schools (1876) and retake power (1886-1903, 1903 - 1930). The progressive conservatives organize the System of Public Instruction, ironically inspired by the North American Handbooks of the pestalozzian pedagogy, which become the theoretical and methodological basis of the texts that made triple support not only for primary education but also for normal education in Colombia: Plan Zerda [110] (1893); Law 39 of 1903 or Organic Law of Public Instruction, also called the Uribe Law and its Decree 491 of 1904 [111]; and the Manual, "Elements of Pedagogy" [112] , by Brothers Luis and Martín Restrepo Mejía.

This Manual, the masterpiece of Catholic pedagogy, is adopted as a text for normal schools. It serves as a theoretical source for the processes of teacher training since the end of Regeneration and, above all, during the Conservative Hegemony. It contains, "cosmopolitan ideas and pedagogical techniques taken from the Pestalozzian experience of American Protestants, but appropriate, adequate and sifted by Catholic philosophical orthodoxy, which was then neo-scholasticism or neotomism. This philosophy had been proclaimed as the official philosophy of the Catholic schools by Leo XIII in his encyclical Aeterni Patris of 1879, and it lasted in the secondary education of the country until the seventies of the twentieth century. " [113]

The formative conception offered by the manual is broken from the second decade of the twentieth century, with the second German Pedagogical Mission and with the educational proposal introduced by Agustín Nieto Caballero, focused on the theories and methods of the active school and thinking of the exponents of experimental pedagogical currents, such as Dewey, Decroly, Claparade, among others. During this period a special interest is developed by anthropometric research, physical and mental hygiene. The motto "healthy mind in a healthy body" is promoted. Paidocentrism emerges as a true revolution of modern pedagogy. Be part of the recognition, study, observation and monitoring of the child.

The pedagogical knowledge, is built in context, its developments are successive and increasingly deep and complex. The work of the Church in the educational field is questioned and attacked by liberals and intellectuals. The Church pronounces itself and resists a secularized vision of man and society. 

1.4. From moral redeemer to social redeemer

From the end of the nineteenth century to the first half of the next century, the conception of teacher, which encompasses both the knowledge and the pedagogical practice that circulates through the manual "Elements of Pedagogy", refers to the office of teacher as an architect and as apostle, both in the sense of the transcendent (the teacher is an artist of an immortal and free being), and in the sense of the social (the teacher is an artist of civilization), which in the words of Restrepo, author of the manual, does not It would be another thing to recognize the teacher as a "noble worker of progress who initiates those who come to life in the tasks undertaken by those who left and by those who leave". A profession that can not be reduced to a mere office of employee and official but on the contrary should be assumed as a mission and an apostolate, in the image of the Good Shepherd.

This figure of teacher remained until 1946, but almost imperceptibly was transformed, to be in harmony with the state educational proposal that is installed more decidedly from the thirties of the twentieth century. The new system of teacher training is based on values ​​and a pedagogy of social and political foundation, which seeks to make students understand the social mission of the school. It promotes, therefore, knowledge and understanding of the social problems of the environment, the spirit of solidarity and the development of charitable activities for the community. In this same sense the contents of the subjects are organized and the teaching is reoriented, so that it is in tune with the new knowledge and social conceptions [114] .

The vision presented here on some characteristic features of the first fifty years of the history of Colombia in the twentieth century, serves as a frame of reference to locate the conditions of possibility in which the Salesian charism is inserted and developed in these lands. Through the normal schools that were directed and animated by the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, belonging to a religious congregation founded only in 1872 and, therefore, in the process of internal consolidation and expansion to other countries and continents.

2. A STYLE, AN ENVIRONMENT, A TEACHING MODE TO BE A MASTER

When the FMA arrive in Colombia, they have to overcome critical and complex situations. Issues that can not be postponed or omitted, because they are inscribed in the very dynamics of culture, because the day to day imposes them: How to remain faithful to the charism when the sociopolitical and cultural conditions of the new context require a process of inculturation of the same ? How to give an identity, an address to the processes of teacher training, if the institutions where they are formed are the target of the swings and political struggles? How to offer a comprehensive and unitary vision of the teacher's mission, if, faith and life, faith and reason are proposed as different and irreconcilable pathways for modernity?

But it is precisely in this game of tensions and resistances that the conditions of possibility are created for the dynamic and creative development of the Salesian charism that is made visible through the pedagogical practices around the process of teacher training and the animation of the works education associated with this task. Through them we can identify the lines of force that connected the inner life of the Normal Schools both with the global strategies of modernization of Colombian society in the first half of the 20th century, as well as with the strategies of internationalization and expansion of the educational proposal Salesian

2.1. An animation system as a training strategy

The Institute of the FMA, a few years after its foundation, begins its expansion process. With the first group of sisters [115] that arrive in Colombian lands (1897), there are already 18 missionary shipments [116] outside the Italian lands. They, supported by the Salesians and with the accompaniment of the visitors who, from the Mother House, move to the new foundations, assume the challenge of the processes of inculturation of the Gospel, with their own style, that of the Salesian charism, and with a specific mission, education.

In order to carry out this task, it is necessary to guarantee, in the very process of growth of the Institute, internal consolidation, unity and fidelity to the charism received [117] . In response to these challenges, from the government of Mother Catalina Daghero, formative strategies and a system of government and animation are defined that allow the charism to grow and develop thanks to the possibilities that it finds in the processes of reconceptualization, which are derived from of the pedagogical and didactic work implemented in the normal schools, institutions of knowledge, as in the recontextualization dynamics that are built by the immersion in the culture of the educational communities and by the appropriation of the heritage that comes from the center of the Institute.

This is how the normal school of the FMA that begins to function in the physical plant of La Merced since 1904, is constituted in the first laboratory of appropriation of the Salesian pedagogical knowledge in Colombia and, in turn, in the instance that accompanies the processes of initial and permanent formation of the sisters in the field of pedagogy, since it is assumed that being an educator is something intrinsic to the vocation of the FMA. This is why one of the greatest concerns of the superiors, the specific case of Mother Octavia Bussolino [118] , among others, is the formation of the sisters. She considers that the closeness of the novitiate to the normal one favors that the young vocations begin to prepare themselves for the development of their life project, which will revolve around the exercise of teaching.

Another front that, in this same perspective, is assumed from the normal schools, as part of the permanent formation of the sisters, is the study and appropriation of the Manuals and Regulations [119] sent by the Institute, with guidelines and pedagogical norms and didactic, that in addition to establishing parameters and criteria, for classroom interventions, raise the quality of the teacher's work and the performance of students. This process is led, from 1904 until the beginning of the forties by Sr. Honorina Lanfranco [120] , graduated from the Normal Our Lady of the Graces of Nizza Monferrato [121] . Through it, permanent accompaniment is offered to the communities, -"As usual the trip was taken advantage of by Sr. Honorina, to give the clear and simple rules, in order to obtain good results in the use of the new methods" [122] -, and a rigorous and systematic follow-up is also carried out , to the formation processes of the sisters who work in the school, which is recognized and validated by the entities of the State: "when officially the Pedagogical Studies Centers were regulated, with the aim of unifying the work of the teaching about the criteria of the government (Decree 1486 of July 1940), requested and obtained, from the Directorate of Public Education, the permit (...) to realize them with the sisters appointed as teachers in official schools. He then undertook the task of organizing and presiding over the monthly meetings because he wanted the Institute to always be at the forefront of the progress of youth education. [123]

Situation that in this historical moment is a true novelty, because the liberals who come to power (1930 -1946), seek, among other purposes, to unify and centralize public education, to counteract the chaos and dispersion in the curricula, that is generated by the succession of legislative efforts, during the first three decades of the twentieth century.

This reality, which crossed much of the first half of the century and from which derives not only a State that fails to impose its provisions on education, but also some territorial entities that cover dispersion introduce all kinds of innovation, Providentially, it becomes a condition of possibility so that through the normal schools of the FMA in Colombia, an animation system is structured to serve the formation processes that unfold with all autonomy and freedom, not only within the works educational institutions but also in relation to the contexts in which they enroll.

This system of animation, which emerges, is assumed as one of the developments of the Salesian charism, as regards the formation strategy, which was at the base of the foundation and growth process of the Valdocco oratory and the first community of Mornés. He is accompanied and supervised by the locoglobal community of the Institute, with clear and specific rules and guidelines. It is put at the service of the pastoral educational mission, which is inspired by the charity of Christ the Good Shepherd and finds in the "Da mini animas cetera tolle" of Don Bosco, a style, a way of life that attracts and summons others they feel impelled to work "for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls", as they demonstrate, the numerous vocations that arise from the normal schools:"The life carried by the novices and sisters is one thing, the resonance of the educational feels very strong in the novitiate and for the sisters who work in education, the life of the postulants and novices feels very close because they are their students who have just graduated and who are already beginning to shoulder apostolic work with them " [124]

2.2. Knowledge and salesian pedagogical practices

The Institute, to respond to the challenges that arise from its process of growth and expansion, which are associated not only with unity and fidelity to the charism but also with the processes of insertion of it in other cultures and peoples, defines and implements a series of strategies that have to do with the professional formation of the sisters in the field of education [125] , the prior preparation of the missionaries who leave for other countries [126] , the foundation of an institution of pedagogical knowledge [127] ] -the Normal School of Our Lady of Grace-, the systematization and publication of manuals and regulations [128] , among others, that guide and base the life and praxis of the works.

Through this set of interventions, the Institute, besides responding to the aforementioned challenges, produces knowledge and establishes practices from which to name what is inherent in the Salesian charism and how it can be embodied in the daily actions of the teacher at school and with his students. From this knowledge and these Salesian pedagogical practices normal schools appropriate: to guide the educational work of the works " end of school is to provide students with solid Christian education and sufficient instruction, so that they can then receive diplomas of teachers or Commerce; and those who do not want to continue their studies, have knowledge to handle their house skillfully " [129] ; propose an education system:"In the education given to the students governs the preventive system used by the great nineteenth century pedagogue Venerable Juan Bosco. This system consists of informing the girls beforehand of the school regulations and of never leaving them alone, putting them in the inability to commit faults; define a style of presence: " The Masters accompany them to the place they should meet; they give them ample freedom to jump, run, play, as they please; they recreate with them, they speak to them with kindness, they correct them with firmness and softness; and as affectionate mothers surround them with care to free them from all danger to the soul and to the body " [130] ; offer biblical theological references of the mission: The educational system is based on these words of Saint Paul: "Charity is benign and patient; everything suffers; everything waits for it and it sustains itself in any disturbance " [131] ; and establish some educational-pastoral criteria: " Gymnastics, music, declamation, singing and walks are means used in the school as very effective to obtain discipline, help morality and health. The frequent confession and communion, the daily mass, are the columns in which he holds his educational building " [132] .

These practices that are introduced and mark a mode of existence of the Salesian educational proposal, coexist and are enriched by the Christian human thought of the time and by the currents of modern pedagogy that come so much for the missionary sisters who have studied in the School Normal of Nizza Monferrato, as per the contributions offered by the "Manual of Pedagogy" by Martín Restrepo, accepted by the hierarchy of the Church, also by the thought of the Active School led by Nieto Caballero and the intellectual wing of liberals and conservatives.

The pedagogical knowledge that is configured offers some contents and a foundation to the educational practices of the Normal Schools that allow them to enjoy a certain intellectual autonomy in the postures and approaches proposed in the publications, in the creation of programs for teacher training , in the foundation of kindergartens that at this historical moment do not exist in the country [133] , and in the qualification of qualified teachers to work with this population and in these new institutions, the defense of didactic and pedagogical positions that in a moment given they did not enjoy the approval of the Church because they were inspired by educational conceptions that at the time were considered of doubtful origin [134] .

This is how normal schools are defined and revitalized. It is made possible by the circulation of knowledge and practices that give identity, a way of existence to institutions and their graduates. These knowledge and practices are constituted by the play of two tensions. The first of these arises from the definition of a set of strategies that, when implemented to guarantee fidelity to the charism, open up new spaces of understanding and theoretical appropriation of the same. The second is established from the challenges imposed by a society in which emerging problems and situations that go beyond the conventional ways from which it has acted and urge to return to the sources and find in them the principles and arguments to rethink the interventions with new methods and pertinent to the times. These forms of production of knowledge allow the charism to develop and be a response to the youthful realities in permanent evolution.

CONCLUSIONS

Normal schools, as teacher training institutions, can be considered as a hinge, an exchange mechanism par excellence that allows the FMA, the appropriation and diffusion of the Salesian charism in Colombian lands and, in turn, becomes a laboratory to recreate and enrich it in the midst of the tensions and resistances imposed by the new cultural context.

Through these institutions an animation system for teacher training is developed (initial and permanent FMA and laics), with a priority objective: to promote consolidation, unity and fidelity to the charism in its process of growth and expansion. It operates based on the understanding of school culture, which is a reflexive and critical work whose reference point is the manuals and regulations established by the FMA Institute.

This system of animation, together with the other practices, which are defined and protected in a rigorous manner, as means to guarantee that the being and actions of the subjects and the institutions are ordered around the principles and foundations that are inherent in the Charism received, develop and configure a Salesian pedagogical knowledge that opens the horizon of meaning to understand and live it, reducing the fear of distorting it and making the process of inculturation more autonomous and safe.

But next to these forms of knowledge are installed those imposed by a complex and constantly changing world, which goes beyond the conventional ways as the mission has been assumed and demand to return again to the founders, to their sources, (especially the Gospel) and the Preventive System, to re-read from the emerging perspectives, the essential and constitutive elements of the Salesian pastoral educational proposal and to trace new routes of accompaniment to young people in the process of building their life projects, which are assumed from a specific option , to be a teacher with a characteristic style, the pastoral educational charity of Christ the Good Shepherd.

Daughters of Mary Help of Christians - Middle East Province

Development of the works: 1891 - 1950

Ibtissam Kassis, fma

Introduction

The MOR Province of the FMA is present in 5 Five Nations and six states (considering the Holy Land as a single nation but with two states). Three religions. A mosaic of confessions and ethnicities! Today a missionary who moves to different lands, studies them first, asks Google all the questions that pass in his mind! Certainly our first sisters did not consult any source before saying their Si to the Holy Land, they were sure that Jesus and Mary were waiting for them there. For them the Holy Land is the Land of SI, where God celebrated his marriage with humanity. You call us, here we go, Lord, to do Your Will. A little at a time they discover that the land of Jesus, the first to be evangelized, is no longer entirely Christian, indeed Christians are a minority, Muslims and Christians of other denominations are to be known welcoming and loving. Learning their language and knowing their beliefs are ways to go to get to the heart of each brother and sister. They knew that the Turks dominated here, but they did not imagine what it cost the population that has remained in poverty and ignorance! From the Bible they had learned that this is an eternally disputed land of neighbors and far, but perhaps they believed that the time has come when every people became independent and autonomous in governing and managing the goods of their own land. Instead! 1914 the first world war that forced the Italians to leave the country including the nuns.

1918 . The war ends. Defeated, the Turkish empire collapses, and the winning nations establish the MANDATE system on the various parts of the shattered Empire.

1947 - Before the end of the British Mandate on Palestine, the United Nations set out, at the table, its division between Jews and Arabs.

1948 - War between Israelis and Arabs. In the same year Israel declares the birth of the Israeli state. The days of their independence are commemorated by the Palestinians as the black day of defeat! Thus the holiest land in the world due to the presence of the greatest monotheistic religions, has become a theater of violence and massacres. Only the triumph of peace can open better horizons and restore serenity to these peoples.

In this difficult context the FMA of the Houses of the Holy Land operated: A challenge in fire characters urges them continually: TURN ON LIFE TO BURN DEATH!

Just have the courage of WAIT! And the audacity to place oneself at the side of the young, to help them progress, in the arduous journey of purification, in the hope of being able to celebrate together, in the name of the common Father Abraham, the liturgy of Reconciliation and Forgiveness, realizing the dream of God expressed in Isaiah 19: 23-25: "  On that day there will be a road from Egypt to Assyria; the Assyrian will go to Egypt and the Egyptian to Assyria; the Egyptians will serve the Lord together with the Assyrians. On that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the middle of the earth. The Lord of hosts will bless them: Blessed be the Egyptian my people, the Assyrian work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance. "

I have dwelt on this introduction because the conflict with Israel, overt or devious, is at the root of all the troubles of MOR. But even to say nevertheless we continue to challenge the story and dream big. The development of the various works in spite of everything, from courage and confidence in " He who has begun the Good work with us and with us, is able to bring it to completion "

TERRA SANTA 1891

BETHLEHEM - Casa Maria Ausiliatrice

Bethlehem is the marvelous story of a fruitfulness that continues, and the MOR Province could not be born elsewhere. Thanks to the urgent invitation of Abouna Antoun "Belloni", the decision is taken at the two vertices SDB and FMA, and together we start towards the Promised Land.

24 September 1891 In the Temple of Mary Help of Christians the "Yes" of the five Daughters of Mary Help of Christians destined, with the Salesians, to the Land of Jesus. With "Yes", the "Ecce" and the "Fiat" on which Fr Rua, among the emotion of all, the blessing of Mary Help of Christians is abundant.

October 8, 1891 - ARRIVAL in Bethlehem. After the festive and enthusiastic notes of the Banda degli Orfani, a dissonance that grows in volume with the passing of days. The Daughters of Mary Immaculate (Lay Association) who see their labor camp invaded and so fond of them come out in these expressions: "the sea that led them will bring them back" ... Cohabitation is difficult. D. Belloni, the Father of the Orphans, who called the Salesians and the FMA for the Orphanage decides: to Sr. Annetta Vergano, superior of the squad, the progress of the house. To the others, the possibility of a choice: either to be FMA, or submit to the new Superior, continuing to work in the same vein, or return to Liguria, the seat of their foundation. Four make the first choice, the others, the following June, return to their homeland. But, on the horizon, new difficulties, more painful. They come from above! Prayer wins. Propaganda Fide authorizes Salesians and FMA to stay and work in Palestine. In thanksgiving, all night at the Holy Grotto! And it is December 24th 1891.

Opera educational:

They could have contented themselves with serving the few orphans they needed to feed day and night and keeping their underwear clean. But the educational heart wonders: And where are the girls? Passing through the streets of Bethlehem there is no lack of meetings with girls and repeated invitations to come to the oratory, and the answer is immediate. Every Sunday, many and always on the rise ... 100 ... 150 ... 200 and, in the days of awards, even 300. The courtyard? A land not yet leveled. And the environments for the meeting caves dug into the rock arranged at best. I do a glean from the chronicle, which will give the idea of ​​the work.

1900 the chronicle speaks of internal girls, certainly few given the small local. 

1908 In the small courtyard, the two rudimentary rooms accommodate: 70 girls aged three to five. Thus the nursery school rises!

1910 visit of the Italian school inspector, he marvels and congratulates the courage of the sisters, and their dedication and the exuberance of the girls. Five elementary classes. Maximum narrowness of premises. girls alternate in those rooms. Great poverty: two mats on the ground and a few benches around. In the Church under construction, the 12 girls of the laboratory are poorly sheltered from the wind and the elements.

July 8, agreement with the Italian consul, visiting the school, to take the school supplies from the Jerusalem school legally recognized and subsidized by the Italian government! Gesture of benevolence and esteem by the Italian authorities.

1914, the inauguration of a beautiful and vast Chapel: The Sisters built them, between sacrifices and difficulties of every kind. Thanks to the Great Engineer Barluzzi and to the unwavering faith of Mother Annetta Vergano! From the top of the niche, in the center, Mary Help of Christians smiles and blesses. From the port, he traveled on the back of a dromedary, like the great lords of that time, arrived intact!

Most of all deserves to be remembered Commendatore Schiaparelli, known for his generosity towards the Italian religious institutes that operated in MOR. Information is given on several baptisms of Greek Orthodox women of Greek nationality requesting baptism! And then the first communion.

1914 The first WAR! world. December 20th . We leave everything and we leave for Italy. Five years of exile and then the RETURN! The needs have changed and we can no longer think of school in tight and unfit places. But you put all the effort in the oratory, you build a nice living room and equip yourself with the playground.

1943 Bethlehem is also the novitiate of MOR . A cave is a dormitory, the other is a study, the roof is covered with sheets attached to the best, all with joy and enthusiasm!

JERUSALEM  1906. HOUSE S. GIOVANNI BOSCO

- response to the desire of Mother Daghero and Fr Rua, who had encouraged a work in Jerusalem on their visit.

1906 - February 27 - the entrance to the residence: Musrara , a hundred meters from the "Walls". Humble beginnings. A girl in kindergarten and four girls in tailoring, the first registered. But Development is accelerated: kindergarten, six elementary classes with the teaching of three languages: Italian, Arabic and French; private course for the middle school, embroidery and tailoring course . The many students, of the popular class, differ in faith and nationality, but there is no friction or rivalry. Candelabrum, Cross and Crescent, ecumenical climate, freedom and respect for each! Distinguished visits, civil and religious pass, admire and promise aid!

1914-20 December . An order: let's go! The taller students, very affectionate, hear "their" church, house, school and, saved the sacred vessels and the most important objects, ask the Turkish Government to teach. Grass teachers! the Authority grants, moved, D. Bosco blesses!

1918 - August . It begins again! The situation is new. Defeated the Turks, the English dominate, New programs, new needs.

1920 - 23 July . The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Mg Luigi Barlassina , proposes to the General M. "the opening of a technical-commercial, theoretical-practical school for the teaching of foreign languages ​​and the keeping of accounts and registers, in various languages. With this, the cutting and sewing school for the complete training of women ". The SI is full! But, environments and funds? No fear! the new school arm is finished. Seven classes and a large hall: theater and tailoring. The number of students is duplicated Classes and courtyard are insufficient. Near, another house and beautiful land! New classes, gym and a nice courtyard. A new arm that with the previous one reflects the " test " of extraordinary Love, of the Good Shepherd. Great vitality of the work:500 girls, young girls and young people who are preparing for life, with great dedication on the part of international sisters, prepared for the various disciplines: Arabic, French, English, Italian, music, painting, cutting and sewing, book-keeping, typing, shorthand. And theater direction cannot be missing. The recipients are of various religions, confessions and nationalities. All enjoy an enviable education for those times. Every occasion is good for preparing an academy, giving girls the chance to showcase their talents. All this is witnessed by the various visits of ministers, ambassadors, inspectors and commanders. Which gave the newspapers excellent impressions, and great praise. 

Now that everything seems to be settled, the ghost of war reappears.

1940 - The Italian Sisters are interned. The others, few, without making noise, continue to give themselves without respite. At their side, among the youth, the "new local vocations", a gift of the Lord!

1943 - Barriers finally fall! We return to work with new energy in the furrow abandoned for the war. The students are almost 500, and All'Oratorio, always a lot of party. Argentine voices throughout the neighborhood, enjoy! But is there really peace? in

1948 -   May 14 - Self-proclaimed State of Israel, but the struggle continues harsh and hard.

May 27 - Terrible odyssey, fire and destruction everywhere. Defying the risks, the sisters manage to escape, leaving home to the flames and with it many important documents, both from the sisters and the school.

1949 - February - After 16 months of combat: the armistice !

New boundaries and clear separation! Musrara, on this side, in the Jewish area. Beyond, among the refugees, the Sisters who are coming to Bethlehem.

June 24 - The new edict inviting you to return is welcomed!

June 26 - The Director with the two Sisters leaves Bethlehem. And with the longest and most uphill road, the heart sings the Ascending Psalms (126 - 127) that instill hope. Need it! Once through the great gate, the signs of war: trenches and destruction. It must be rebuilt!

Meanwhile, in the courtyard above, the Oratory reopens its doors. The first year is about seventy. They are all Jewish; the others, beyond the walls! But over time, the group thins out of the intransigents. Surrounded by fundamentalist Jews it becomes impossible to resume school and educational activities.

SYRIA DAMASCUS 1913 HOUSE MARIA HELP OF MAN

School and Outpatient Department

Two twin works, born together and raised under the same roof from 1913 to 1950, invited ANSMI National Association to help Italian Missionaries, a moral body based in Rome.

Everything starts in the provisional and precarious situation. Immediately at work on two very different fronts:

Outpatient clinic to help and treat the sick, the great Damascus had just 3 foreign hospitals and they too were growing. A clinic in the Salhiè area is already a precious gift.

Kindergarten and elementary school for girls, who dreamed of it? It seemed that the main work was the clinic, but the sisters are educators born. And then divide the tasks well and do both activities well. The oratory will then unite all the forces! In the most beautiful of enthusiasm ...

1914 - The First World War broke out, as for all the works of the Province, also in Damascus was closed and the Sisters forced to return to Italy, waiting for better times. They left Syria in May 1915.

March 1920 - it was possible to resume work even if not yet clear. The Association has rented rooms for the Hospital and for the elementary school and the tailoring course. The post-war years were not so calm for Syria! The war between the Druze and the French was not easy for anyone. Nevertheless the work multiplied and the projects of the Association grew. Construction began on the hospital and the school on the ground in Via Salhié which had been bought before the war.

The chronicle of 1924 reports an interesting activity report:

1. Outpatient clinic - visits from 70 to 80 patients per day, hospital - patients 16-18 per day

2. Kindergartens - 30 children, Primary school from 1st-5th - 48th girls

6 March 1926 - Inauguration of the building for the Italian women's school and the Italian hospital! In the counter page of the chronicle of 1928 the rapid growth of the educational work is evident: a total of girls and boys who attended the oratory, the school and the music courses 178 . Although Italian , the school has welcomed Syrian girls from the start, giving them all the advantages of Italian companions. In fact, in 1932 , even for them the holidays, paid by the Government, are made in Italy.

School and Hospital take on an unexpected development and life proceeds normally until 1940 , the beginning of World War II, the invitation to leave Syria, but the French Authorities allow the sisters to remain even only in the part used as a convent. The state of isolation does not last more than a month and, thank God, everything can be resumed as before and perhaps with greater intensity given the need that is being created in the city.

June 8, 1941 - England declares war against France. Syria was not spared, being a French colony! Schools closed again, the Italian Colony is forced to leave. The hospital becomes a refuge for Italians who cannot leave. On the 26th of the same month, a heavy bombardment, even the Hospital is hit but, thank God, no one injured. However, it is occupied by the military and the Sisters are prisoners of war.

November 13, 1941 - Friendly people intercede for internment to take place in Bethlehem , at the house of the Salesians in Bethlehem. The internment lasts five years and, only on Wednesday, April 17, 1946, the first Sisters begin to arrive in Syria to resume activities. 18 July 1946 - Finally the Sisters return to the hospital to stay, 1948 knows the war between Arabs and Israelis for the occupation of Palestine. The echoes of the fighting reach as far as Damascus, and even our hospital receives wounded and dying. Meanwhile, the practices continue to get the school back.

October 4, 1948 - finally returned, the school reopens in the rooms of the men's school (via Boustan Rais), behind the hospital. A small inmate is also opened. Superb is the counterpart of the cover of the 1950 Chronicle ! The names of 26 FMA with their different occupations are included. One has the idea of ​​the vastness of the work and of a very active community that feels the teaching and education as its first task. The students, internal and external, of the various cycles, including the Tailoring Course, reach the beautiful number of 705! The school is no longer just Italian, the school is born with the programs of the Syrian state, while continuing to teach Italian as a third language alongside French and Arabic. Even the Hospital takes on ever greater dimensions, so the Superior, in view of a better management of the two works, decide on April 12th 1951 for the definitive separation of the two communities.

EGYPT - 1915 ALESSANDRIA - CASA MARIA AUSILIATRICE

December 20, 1914 . The Sisters of the Holy Land, leaving for Italy. The ship makes a stop in Alexandria. But in the escape, the Salesian brothers invite you to stay, here in " Alexandria of Egypt " there is also a mission for you. The hard years of the First World War, but with the impetus of the " Da mihi animas ", the festive Oratory flourished, the school of embroidery, music, painting, activities often praised in the well-known newspaper "M essaggero ".

In 1918 the sprout grows, a regular school is started for the children of Italians abroad: five elementary classes, three complementary, impregnated with the Preventive System . In 1922 the first Union of the Past Pupils rises: it is the 50th jubilee year of the FMA Institute. From this group the two first Alexandrian vocations will blossom, Sr. Felicina Gherra and Sr. Antonietta Balmas.

1933 -   The students are already 250 and the School is transferred for two years to via Menasce, and finally to via Abbassides, 25. Here, it is established in 1935. The work takes relevant proportions: the Oratory frequented also by Egyptian girls. As the elementary school grows, the complementary school becomes a specialization school, which is considered one of the rare examples of vocational training for young people. Many former students have found good employment both in the industrial world and in the commercial world.

In 1936 he  arrived in Alessandria sr. Palmira Parri, the expedition leader of the mission in China. His experience and great governmental talent will give the work a strong boost.

In 1939 the Second World War broke out. Italy is also involved, and the following year, the school suffers the sad consequences. The men are interned; all the rooms available are used to host families in difficulty and children in need of everything . The Teachers of the State Schools (littorie) repatriate, but the Sisters remain in their place, multiplying in works of charity and in teaching. The School reaches the highest level: 644 are the students who attend kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, vocational training, techniques and high school.These are the heroic years: we work hard, we suffer, we hope and help each other in every way. It is in these years of war that Sr. Adriana Grasso attends our School and is infected by it: she will be Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. And with her, other young women: Sr. Maria Flavia Spadola, Sr. Giovanna Migliorini, Sr. Maria Paggi, Sr. Anna Maria Corbò. All remembered the great fascination exercised over them by the nuns, in particular by Sr. Palmira. After the storm of war, the Italian authorities and our superiors return to support and animate the school and find it beautiful and flourishing, as before, thanks to the Help of Christians. The Association of Cooperators is also flourishing .

If all our works had been created for the education of Italians in the underworld, this of Alexandria is considered the most important, here the sense of Italianness was strong, and the attention of the government was very benevolent: legally recognized and annually subsidized. Here too the news appoints an infinite number of Italian authorities visiting the school, the local newspapers have left us the testimony of great achievements: exhibitions, academies, prizes distributed to the most successful, holidays in Italy.

HELIOPOLIS - 1927 SACRED HEART HOUSE

Called by the Italian Government to take over the colonial school " Alessandro Manzoni" in Heliopolis - Città del Sole - to take express care of Italian youth.

1927 - First year the school had a total of 23 students, but in the second it already started the course of cutting and sewing, embroidery and painting and an integrative course of culture after elementary school.

1929 In the third year the students were 210 and, at the insistence of their parents, the four year classes that became particularly efficient during the Second World War were replaced by the Cultural Course. It is a period marked by many illustrious visits: the Reggio commissioner, Ugolini Guido, and the inspector of Italian schools, the Italian consul Enrico Bombieri with Mrs. Sofia, all expressions of high esteem and appreciation of the school are recorded. The great receptions in which the school took part tell everyone's interest in nourishing the great patriotic sense in the minds of the young, Italianness was the watchword.

April 14, 1929 The chronicle reports an article in the Impartial newspaper , in which it describes in detail, the prize-giving party in which great ecclesiastical and diplomatic authorities and the two Italian and Egyptian governments took part.

The years of the second world war were hard for everyone but the school did not know interruption. On the contrary, the Italian students of the Cultural Course are all received for free and those from the elementary schools, although the number is not given, the news reports 90 students benefited who also receive lunch from the school. The Sisters hope that the number of members of the cutting course will exceed fifty to be able to meet the expenses of maintaining even the other students! ...

1946 We are in the post-war period and the providence assigns as director of the Community sr. Palmira Parri, a person of great heart and high spiritual stature. Poverty is great everywhere, and she reaches everyone with the heart of Mother. Once the storm of war had passed, normality was returning, and the female commercial class was replaced by the gymnasium classes, which made it possible to find employment sooner. Sr. Palmira applies to the Italian government for recognition.

1948 on the horizon clouds begin to be seen! Nationalizations ? On October 27 an urgent meeting by the Jesuits to study the situation of the schools and property of the religious.

02.09.1949 again a meeting by the Jesuits of all the representatives of the Catholic schools. The obligation to teach Islamic religion in our schools comes, what should we do?

In 1954 the school was able to open its doors also to Egyptian students and this, thanks to the arrival of Arabic-speaking Sisters, like Sr. Rosa Hihi, Palestinian, who will teach in first grade.

CAIRO - 1929 CASA MARIA AUSILIATRICE

We read in the chronicle of the house: "With the help of God and of the Virgin Help of Christians the new house in Cairo opens today - 1/10/1929 - this is due to the generous" yes "of three sisters. The Ines villa is rented to Rod El Farag, and the Salesians go to school: kindergarten (6 children in all) and first grade (15 pupils) ". But day after day everything grows. The Salesian brothers, who have supported the beginning of this work so much, understand the great unease for the Sisters of staying in a relatively distant house with no chapel and many other needs. This is why the Rev. D. Rubino, so kind to us, made us build a house in a part of the courtyard of their school.

30/4/1930 , we change homes. Which then became the home of the community dedicated to the Salesians.

On 18/1/1931 the Oratory begins with only five girls and, like all of Don Bosco's speakers, he soon grows and makes himself heard. Only a few months after his birth he was able to present himself to the public with a solemn academy for the 50th anniversary of the death of Mother Mazzarello; the Journal of Orient also talks about it . School, oratory, everything goes smoothly, and despite the fact that the premises are small and not very suitable, one even has the courage to start the cutting and sewing workshop, a typical legacy of Mother Mazzarello.

On 19/6/1932 the first exhibition of the works is held. The Journal of Orient also spoke of this, praising perfection and good taste. The students are constantly increasing. The needs and initiatives are increasing and the premises are becoming ever closer.

On 12/2/1933 Sr. Teresa Tacconi, director, signs the purchase deed of a villa in Via Ebn El Assir - Rod El Farag. With the help of the Salesian brothers and many friendly people, the premises are repaired and adapted and on 30/8/1934 the final move is made to the new house. It is the first of a series of houses that, one after the other, and with much sacrifice, the first Sisters managed to buy, demolish and adapt for school environments.

1948 the Egyptian Arab elementary school was born, it will continue its growth until middle school, with time it takes a lot of development. Unfortunately, the limited spaces do not allow the start of the high school, insistently requested by the parents.

In 1950 , next to the first villa, the salon-theater, the church and the tailoring workshop were built. From the chronicle of that year we deduce:

a complete and thriving school. 18 nuns at the service of 500 from nursery school girls to commercial school girls, to foreign languages. General reflections as a conclusion:

RECIPIENTS and programs:

1) the care for the education of women, at a time when very few girls went to school. Our sisters immediately aimed at a complete, religious, cultural, professional and artistic education.

2) if the French and English schools were addressed to the society's elite, our Salesian schools targeted the people. This is confirmed by the teaching approach, the attention to the possibility of a profitable and easy to reach job. In the eighties I was in Cairo there are not few Italian past pupils who lived in Australia or America, who requested a certificate from the archive, validated by the Italian embassy.

3) Attention to the poor is confirmed by the testimony of several past pupils who have become adults and well-off, have committed themselves to helping our works or other poor through us. The expression that is repeated "what you have done to us, we feel the need to do it to others". One of them loved to call himself "the postman of Jesus".

4) The fascist period has given schools a great development, but also great interest for the students. Italians and non-Italians had the month of vacation in Italy for free. We met some ex-students who talked about them as the best memories of their lives. Attention to Italians has never isolated young native women. They were accepted by all non-Italian girls. Being treated as Italian did not detract from their national identity, still so confused between different Turkish dominations. French, English and finally Israelis!

5) The meaning of art in all its expressions was very cultivated: the music, both religious and patriotic or cultural song was well cared for, refined souls, and made the students ready for every illustrious visit, for every welcome of pilgrims or visitors, and both were numerous.

6) Local newspapers have always appreciated the work of the Salesian nuns, the exhibitions, the academies, the summer camps that lasted from 20 to 30 days at sea or even in Italy.

The educational impact of the Salesian Work in South Africa

a preliminary investigation

William John Dixon, sdb

What was the educational impact of Salesian work in South Africa until 1950?

The Salesian work for young people in South Africa began at the end of 1896, we can be sure of this because the Chronicle of the Claremont House has a wonderful memory, the original ticket of the first group of Salesians who arrived in South Africa, in Città del Chief in 1896.

'Steam ship Greek tickets, November 28, 1896, from Southampton to Cape Town:

  Federico. Barni, Thomas. Giltenan, Carlo Fea, Daniele Dellacasa and J. Raimetti ' [135]

This list in itself offers us a key to understanding the original reason for what the Salesians thought they were going to do. Fr Frederico Barni had been a pioneer of the Mission in London and Cleric Thomas Giltenan was a young Irishman, sent to help with teaching English, and taking care of the interior. The other three were brothers who had come with the skills of printing, binding and tailoring. Their main and general work then was the technical training of poor and abandoned youth. What they evidently had little or no idea was the complexity of the working world in the colony, then very racially divided.

The history of technical training in South Africa dates back to 1850:

It was under the influence of Sir George Gray in the early 1850s that a very elaborate and precise system was set up for vocational and vocational training, for non-whites. For example, over the years 1855-1861, over £ 46,000 was provided by the Colonial Office in London for this type of education for non-whites. ... These schools formed and prepared not only cobblers and tailors, but also carpenters and masons. [136]

The need for technical training served and responded to the continuous requests of Cape Town as an imperial and commercial port, but from the beginning work, in those trades, tended to be limited to people of color.

In the preceding years and after the Anglo-Boer war the so-called "poor whites" had developed.

'The problem of poor whites was mainly a rural problem ... It produced a transition from a patriarchal form of rural life to the modern form of industrialized and commercialized agriculture. Many (poor white farmers) crowded the cities and slums created at that time. There was no occupation for them because they were not specialized in the commercial field. They were also reluctant to do unskilled work because it would lower them to the level of blacks. " [137]

What is interesting historically is that at the time when Don Barni brought the first group of Salesians to start working in the first house of the Institute in Via Buitenakant, at the same time the government of the Chief had made a decisive turn in their policy regarding technical education, which on the one hand allowed the beginning of our work, on the other, unfortunately, limited it in working for white children.

From 1855 under governor Sir Charles Gray, the colonial authorities, who had always been concerned about the need for skilled labor in a colony where skills were scarce and where the government was anxious to keep labor prices low, decided to introduce the technical training services in colonial schools for black people. In 1895, however, there was a great change in policy. An influential politician, Herman van Roos (Afrikaner), who later became Minister of Justice in the Union Government worried about juvenile delinquency among the children of unemployed whites. He also held that role for the establishment of the first reformers of the South African Union. One of his assistants, an Englishman named EH Norman,

'In fact, the Dutch Reformed Church was the first to propose a vocational culture as a measure to combat the' Poor Whitism '("poor bianchismo"). In the 1890s he sponsored the creation of industrial schools, expanded after the Anglo-Boer war as a training tool for poor white children from rural areas, in industrial occupations such as shoemaking, carpentry, etc. ... and for training of girls in domestic work. In 1910 there were only 400 students in these schools, a simple drop in the sea. Furthermore, in 1911 the Department of Prisons established two industrial schools, more or less structurally as reformers for poor children and in legal difficulties.

The fact that vocational training has been associated with the poor, young people in distress and delinquents has seriously hampered its future development. The association of ideas mentioned before, that manual work was 'work Kaffir' placed training in professions that require unacceptable manual skill for the boy and girl from the middle and affluent homes.

Thus professional education was born in South Africa with tremendous limits. Although the Church has "baptized" it and the Department of Prisons supported it for some time, it was started out of shame. Later it was located on the "door step" of the Provincial Education Department: and this foundling was never happy. In reality it was the Cinderella of the school system. [138]

The colonial government of Cape Town had decided in 1895 to offer a contribution of £ 12 a year for their education and to pay, at the same time, the salaries of their teachers.

Bishop John Leonard, [139] Apostolic Vicar of the Western Cape, saw this as a unique opportunity to address the persistent problem of what to do with Catholic orphans who had grown up in Nazareth House. He was also looking for an economic solution to the problem of publishing the Catholic magazine Mons.Kolbe, as a great businessman and very attentive to the use of money. The Salesians seemed an answer to his prayers ...

But the clear link between the finance of the Cape Town Government, available for industrial schools for white children and the foundation of the Salesian Institute, I suspect, has given the Salesians a unique place in the development of technical education in the City of Chief, but also hindered their further expansion and development in South Africa over the next 50 years. While it is clear that they had no intention of either being involved in the penal system or limiting their mission of divided racial education, when it was associated with the traumatic experience of failure, it is clear that the expansion of Salesian work, beyond beyond the Institute, it was severely detached from the nature of its origins.

However, the situation was educationally okay, as according to a grant from the Cape Town Government, there were annual checks by government inspectors. These clearly show that the students are at the Institute especially in the period 1897-1917, struggling with basic literacy. Inspection reports for the period from 1897 to 1908 show groups of boys who worked hard at Standard Work. [140] What is to be considered very politically very important is that, at the same time, in 1927 there were significant groups of school-age students of the Institute who obtained the National Technical Certificate and some even passed the National Press Exams that were renowned to be extremely difficult for the full-time professionals themselves.

We must pay tribute to those Salesians who have devoted much time to this apostolate for the most part misunderstood and unattractive in those early years.

In addition, the misunderstandings between Don Barni and Bishop Leonard had led the Salesians to be declared legally bankrupt and also having to accept a Council of Supervisory Authorities called in Dutch law, 'curatores bonis' without whose signature no check could be signed or no agreement could be entered into. All this has meant that a wider development of our work has had to wait.

Perhaps from a Salesian point of view it is also worth saying that the model of education that those first Salesians brought to South Africa was a model born and raised in a rapidly developing economy such as Turin. Don Bosco, who had appreciated the independence of small-scale hill farmers, sought an equivalent model in the city and saw that specialized master craftsmen were indeed independent and could make personal choices. They were not exploitable like so many poor citizens. How this model entered South Africa, tormented by the Anglo-Boer conflict and a racially stratified labor market, is a question that has yet to be fully resolved. Associated with this is the clear awareness that in England, from which the Cape Town Institute depended, the Salesian model of educational development had taken a very different path. In Battersea, what began as a parish mission in a poor area of ​​London that dealt with a community of poor immigrants, many of whom Irish skippers and Belgian prostitutes, with the support of a state primary school, developed into a a sort of minor seminary or secondary school with interns, which favored vocations. In those early years, no salesian or oratory technical school was ever attempted, and those who presented themselves, candidates for Salesian life, were mostly trained initially as teachers of the pupils of the Sacred Heart Elementary School, before qualifications later. one year at the Catholic Teacher Training College in Hammersmith, and finally as candidates for the priestly order. There was no effort to train or develop skilled craftsmen who could become the staff of the Institute in Cape Town. The ideal of Don Macey seemed to have been the formation of gentlemen for the clergy rather than the Salesian in shirt sleeves. Without help and with very little sympathy from London, it is no wonder that Fr Tozzi, successor of Don Barni, found himself in serious and real difficulties to face bankruptcy and bankruptcy, and at the same time the need to build the new Institute on a secure financial basis, which meant that it would take 30 years before the Salesians could try to develop a second home on the 8-hectare agricultural estate at Claremont on Lansdowne Road, just 15 miles from Cape Town. However, the attempt to start an agricultural school in Claremont had a bad start.

One of the most significant voices of the Salesian Echo, in the 20's of 1900, refers to an Award Visit to the Institute in Lansdowne from nothing less than the Minister of Justice, Van Roos, and the Secretary for Agriculture, Du Toit, who he said, trying to discover the fact that the gardening market was considered as "color work":

"... while most of the intensive crop market in our country was done by people of color, with the strong arm of African labor, there was a need for European intelligence to direct its future."

This clearly racist ideology, concerning agrarian education, must have been the kiss of death for our agricultural schools, whose pupils were taken from the poor white citizens who had no experience of the land nor the intention to take on an occupation "Of color".

What is clear, from one of the first reports of Don Tozzi's visit to Lansdowne in 1932, was that the creation of a festive oratory for black boys should have been the priority. The agricultural school in Lansdowne served effectively as a farm for the needs of the hungry of the Institute and was very prominent by the Salesians as a school of preparation for the Institute, although the Chief authorities always refused to recognize it as a separate institution.

However, real pressure to find another model in Lansdowne did not exist until 1945, when the dairy herd stalls were declared a risk to public health.

In the history of the GBR Province the prevailing educational model was that of the College of Battersea, as a daytime and internal secondary school. This model was recopied at Farnborough in 1902, although in reality the foundation was for the orphans of the Anglo-Boer war and also, in due course, at Chertsey in 1919 and Bolton in 1925 and lately at Bootle in 1960. The idea of ​​a secondary school that taught Arts and Crafts was out of any scheme, due in part to the apprenticeship system in force in the United Kingdom, which was totally outside the school system and which began only after compulsory elementary education was over.

Don Tozzi, even though he spoke and wrote very correctly in English, he never really felt right with what, I suspect, he thought was an English model of education for the 'middle class'. His attempt to broaden the educational base in Lansdowne in 1921 looked at the continental model of an agricultural school that had been so successful in Spain and experienced by the Bondioni brothers, Oswald and Maurice, as pioneers. Although he left South Africa to become an Provincial in 1926, it is clear from the Visitation Reports, which still held the reins there until he left for the United States in 1940 because of the coup carried out by some Irish and Scottish confreres.

The departure of Don Tozzi for America and the influence of Don Ainsworth meant that the second educational model, introduced in South Africa, was the model of the English Grammar School, very selective. Don Bill Ainsworth was the 'gray eminence' beside the extremely hesitant Don Couche. Even though he was only provincial secretary, while caring for Fr Couche through what we now call 'nervous exhaustion' after the war, he became a very effective supporter in the provincial council. He effectively promoted the development of the Catholic High School (Grammar School) for boys, on the English model, in Lansdowne (after the war) and even more effectively when he became Provincial Delegate for South Africa, under Don Hall.

This was what the English Province could offer very clearly. Although the first generation of English and Irish Salesians had received little training, and although some had qualified as elementary school teachers, few, if any, had a bachelor's degree from before the war, much less the qualification for 'teaching. The closure of Lansdowne as a farm led to the purchase of a property outside of Johannesburg and the transfer of dairy cattle to that new site in 1949.

The House of Daleside, although initially conceived as an agricultural school, very quickly developed an interesting collateral activity that has become an unusual feature for the Salesians. In the first reports, it is said that, while there were few white students at the College, the newly born school already had 60 students in its first year of existence. This was the first step for the Salesians to enter the educational path for non-whites in South Africa, even though it was considered as a by-product of their main work.

If it is true that the schools in Lansdowne and in Daleside actually developed as day and home schools for Catholic children, small but very effective, yet they always struggled to find, on the one hand enough Catholics, willing and able to pay for education of their children, and also of a suitably qualified Salesian staff.

Swaziland 1953

What is particularly interesting about the foundation in Swaziland, is that its pioneers Fr Frank Flynn and don Fleming were among the first to obtain external awards (degrees) from London, through correspondence courses (Wolsey Hall), and when they arrived at Bremersdorp in 1953 were determined to show that what was a resume delivery offer could in no way be inferior to the curriculum and qualifications offered in any equivalent school in the UK or Ireland.

Despite starting from a much lower base in which English was no more than a second language, they opened up to a great religious dimension, and of sporting and cultural activities that, only the idea, can still make us flounder. Teams were not formed only for football or other ball games in international school competitions, but also teams for tennis, athletics, swimming and even cricket as well as Shakespeare's poetry and acting, as well as what has been described as singing and dancing 'Zulu'. The Ottonian band that had so fascinated Bishop Bernaschi at the Institute, has its successors today in Manzini.

In a very interesting memorandum, in the Delegation's archives, there is an anonymous document that serves as a response to those who preferred to limit the curriculum field to the standards required for the Junior Certificate, and thus avoid the difficulties of preparing students until matriculation , and the pre-university exam.

The author suggests, it seems to imply, that this proposal presupposes that Africans should be given only a level of education suited to their own expectations. This has been strongly denied since it is clearly shown that university education had to be made accessible for their students, as indeed it is told in the chronicle about the first student (of Manzini) who began attending university in Rome in 1960.

From the experience of Cape Town we can draw another characteristic. A clause that would have exempted the Salesians from missionary work outside the school was removed from the contract by the Provincial Council so that Manzini was not only a Catholic school for boys, but was also a mission center for Swaziland. From this clause the origins of the Mission and School of Malkerns can be traced, as well as the immense service and responsibility that the Salesians have assumed for the Cathedral, for the diocese and for the wider Church in South Africa.

Swaziland became an outstanding didactic example for a South Africa tormented by racial segregation in education and apartheid in society, in which highly motivated educators and missionaries could have formed a new generation of African leaders.

A laconic note in the chronicle in Manzini, shows that while the German Dominican Sisters were invited for the Academy (Sacred Concert) for the Feast of Our Lady, he also notes that the ex-chief Albert Lutueli, the leader of the ANC, was the guest of honor. This was at a time when he was almost always under house arrest in South Africa and yet he felt confident in entrusting his sons to the Salesians, for their education.

In the period immediately following the Sharpeville shooting, when the racial tension was growing and the school strikes had also occurred in Manzini, the Salesians, in relation to the Royal Councilors, were able to deal with the spread of most of the discontent.

In an episode after the school world disturbances, after the Soweto school riots in 1975, Don Larry O'Donnell suspected something about his deputy Stanley Mabizlea, but wisely turned a blind eye, cutting him off from school activities. He actually turned out to be the head of the ANC organization in Swaziland, which was preparing armed resistance to the South African forces around Swaziland.

Boyseens 1952

Didactically less clear and effective was the impact of the Hostel (for Young White Workers) in Boyseens, founded in 1952. Although clearly established as a model to try to offer young white workers a decent base in which to complete the apprenticeship, it never really became part of the network where local businesses really supported work. Unlike a similar job in Munich, employers have never been convinced of social obligations at the home of workers, or even having to supervise their apprentices outside of work.

(Translated from the English by Francesco De Ruvo, sdb)

The Educational Impact of the Salesian Work  in South Africa

a preliminary survey

William John Dixon, sdb

What has been the educational impact of the Salesian work in South Africa  till 1950?

The Salesian work for young people in South Africa began at the end of 1896. We can be certain about this because the Claremont House Chronicle has a wonderful memento, the original ticket of the first group of Salesians to come to South Africa, Cape Town in 1896.
‘Steam ship Greek tickets, 28th Nov 1896, Southampton to Cape Town:

Federico. Barni, Thomas. Giltenan, Carlo Fea, Daniele Dellacasa and J. Raimetti ' [141]

This list in itself offers us a key to understanding the original scope of what the Salesians thought they were coming to do. Fr Frederico Barni had been a pioneer of the Mission to London and the Cleric Thomas Giltenan was a young Irishman, sent to assist with the teaching of English, and looking after the boarders. The other three were coadjutor Brothers who came with the skills of printing, book-binding and tailoring. Their overall emphasis then was the technical education of poor and abandoned youngsters. What they clearly had little or no idea of, were the complexities of the world of work in the racially divided Cape Colony.

The history of the technical education in South Africa dates back to the 1850’s:

It was under the influence of Sir George Grey in the early 1850s that a very elaborate and sound system of industrial and vocational education was started for non-whites. For example during the years 1855 to 1861 over £46,000 was provided by the Colonial Office in London for this type of education for non-whites. ... These schools turned out not only shoemakers and tailors but also carpenters and masons.[142]

The need for technical education served the continuing demands of Cape Town as an imperial and commercial port but work in those trades from the beginning tended to be restricted to coloured people.

What developed in the years leading to and after the Boer War was the so called problem of the ‘Poor Whites’.

‘The poor white problem was mainly a rural problem. ..It involved a transition from a patriarchal form of rural life to the modern form of industrialized and commercialised agriculture.
Many (poor white agricultural workers) flocked to the cities and created slums. There was no employment for them because they knew no skilled trades. They were loath to do unskilled work because that would reduce them to the level of the Blacks.’[143]

What is interesting historically, is that at the same time as Fr Barni led the first group of Salesians to start work at the Institute’s first home in Buitenakant street, the Cape Government had made a decisive change in their technical education  policy which both allowed the beginnings of our work and yet sadly limited it to working for white children

From 1855 under Governor Sir Charles Grey, the Colonial authorities who had always worried about the need for skilled labour in a colony where skills were scarce and where the government were anxious to keep labour prices down, decided to introduce technical training departments in colonial coloured schools. In 1895 however, there was a major change of policy. An influential Afrikaner politician, Herman van Roos, who later became Minister of Justice, in the Union Government became concerned about juvenile delinquency among the children of unemployed whites. He was responsible in that role, for setting up the first Reformatories for the Union of South Africa. One of his assistants an Englishman called E. H. Norman, who became the first probation officer in South Africa and believed that prevention was better than cure, promoted the development of so called Industrial Schools, where white children, in danger of ending up in prison were sent to be taught a useful trade.

‘In fact the Dutch Reform Church was the first to propose vocational education as a measure for combatting ‘Poor Whitism’. In the 1890's it sponsored the establishment of industrial schools and extended them after the Anglo-Boer War as a means of training potential Poor White boys from rural areas in industrial occupations such as shoemaking, carpentry, smithy work etc and girls in domestic work. By 1910 there were only 400 pupils all told in these schools, a mere drop in the bucket. In 1911 the Prisons Department established two industrial schools, more or less as reformatories for destitute and delinquent children.

The fact that vocational education has been associated with the destitute, defective and the delinquent sorely handicapped its future development. The association and the idea mentioned before, that manual work was 'Kaffir work' placed training in occupations requiring manual skill beyond the pale for the boy and girl from the well-to-do or average homes.

Thus vocational education was born in South Africa under tremendous handicap. Though the Church baptised it and the Prisons department nursed it for a time, it was begotten in shame. Placed later on the door step of the provincial education department, this foundling was never happy. In fact it was the Cinderella of the school system.[144]

The Cape Colonial Government had decided in 1895 to offer a grant of £12 a year for their useful education as well as paying their teachers’ salaries.

Bishop John Leonard[145], Vicar Apostolic of the Western Cape, saw this as a unique opportunity to deal with the persistent problem of what to do with Catholic orphans who had outgrown Nazareth House. He also wanted an economical solution to the problem of publishing Mgr Kolbe's Catholic Magazine, for he was a great business man and very careful with money.The Salesians looked like an answer to his prayers...

But the clear connection between Cape Government finance becoming available for Industrial Schools for White children and the foundation of the Salesian Institute, I suspect, both gave the Salesians a unique place in the development of technical education in Cape Town but also hampered their further expansion and development in South Africa for the next 50 years. While it is clear they had no intention either of becoming involved in the penal system or restricting their mission to racially divided education, when this was combined with the traumatic experience of going bankrupt, it is clear that the expansion of the Salesian work beyond the Institute was severely hampered by the nature of its origins.

 Educationally, however it was because there was a Cape Government grant that there were also the annual inspections by government inspectors. These clearly show that students often arrived at the Institute in the period from 1897 to 1917 who were struggling with basic literacy. The Inspection reports for this period 1897-1908 show groups of boys who are struggling with Standard 1 work.[146] What is very remarkable educationally is that at the same time, by 1927 there were considerable groups of the Institute’s school age students who were achieving National Technical Certificates and some even passing the National Printing Exams which were renowned for being exceedingly difficult for full time adult professionals.

We have to pay tribute to those Salesians who dedicated themselves to this mostly unappreciated and un-glamorous apostolate in those early years.

In addition, the misunderstandings between Fr Barni and Bishop Leonard which led to the Salesians being legally declared bankrupt and having to accept a board of Supervisors called delightfully in Dutch Law, 'curatores bonis' without whose signatures no cheques could be signed or business done. All this meant that a wider development of our work had to wait.

Perhaps from a Salesian point of view it is also worth saying that the model of education that those early Salesians brought to South Africa was one that had grown up in a rapidly developing economy like Turin. Don Bosco who appreciated the independence of small hill farmers looked for an equivalent in the city and saw that skilled Master Craftsmen were effectively independent and could make their own choices. They were not exploitable like so many of the urban poor.
How this model fitted a South Africa bedevilled by the Anglo-Boer conflict and the already racially stratified jobs market is a question that is still to be fully answered. Coupled with that, it is clear that in England on which the Cape Town Institute depended, the pattern of Salesian educational development took a very different path. At Battersea what started as a parish mission in a desperately poor area of London catering for a poor immigrant community, many of them Irish bargees and others Belgian prostitutes, with a state supported elementary school, developed into a sort of junior seminary or boarding secondary school that fostered vocations. No Salesian Technical School or Oratory was ever really attempted in those early years, and those candidates who presented themselves for Salesian life were mostly trained as pupil teachers in the Sacred Heart Elementary School, before qualifying after a year at the Catholic Teacher Training College in Hammersmith and ultimately aiming at priestly ordination. There was no effort to train or develop skilled Master Craftsmen who could staff the Institute in Cape Town. Fr Macey's ideal seems to have been the top hatted clergy gentleman rather than the Salesian in shirt-sleeves.

With no help and precious little sympathy from London, is it any wonder that Fr Tozzi, Fr Barni’s successor, found himself so struggling to cope with the fall-out from the bankruptcy and the need to build the Institute on secure financial foundations that it meant that it would be 30 years before the Salesians even tried to develop a second house on the 8 acre farm property at Claremont on Lansdowne Rd, only 15 miles outside Cape Town. The attempt to begin an agricultural school at Claremont however, got off to a very bad start.

One of the most telling entries in the Salesian Echo for the 1920's refers to a Prize giving visit to the Institute and Lansdowne by no one less than the Minister of Justice, Van Roos,  and the Secretary for Agriculture, Du Toit, who said, trying one suspects to cover the fact that market gardening was considered as coloured work:

 ‘…while most of the intensive style market farming  in our country was done by coloured people, with the strong arm of African labour, it needed the intelligent Europeans to direct its future’.

This clearly racist ideology for agricultural education must have been the kiss of death for our agricultural schools, whose pupils were drawn from the urban poor whites who had neither any experience of the land or any intention of taking up a coloured occupation.

What is clear from one of Tozzi’s earliest visitation reports at Lansdowne in1932 is that he thought that the setting up of a festive oratory for coloured boys should be the priority. The agricultural school at Lansdowne effectively served as a farm for the needs of the hungry Institute and was very much seen by the Salesians as a Prep school for the Institute though the Cape authorities refused ever to recognise it as a separate institution.

It was not, however, until 1945 when the milk herd stables were pronounced a risk to public health that there was any real pressure to try another model in Lansdowne.

In the history of the GBR province the prevailing educational model was that of the College that was established at Battersea, as a boarding and day secondary boys school. This was replicated in Farnborough in1902 though it was actually originally founded for the orphans of the Boer War and also in due course at Chertsey in 1919 and Bolton 1925 and latterly at Bootle 1960. The notion of a secondary school that would teach Arts and Trades was an alien one due partly to the prevailing apprenticeship system in the UK which was totally outside the school system and only began after compulsory elementary education was over.

Fr Tozzi, though he spoke and wrote English very correctly, was never really at home with what I suspect he thought was a ‘middle class’ English model of education. His attempt to broaden the educational base at Lansdowne in1921 looked to the continental model of an agricultural school that had been so successful in Spain and brought over the Bondioni brothers Oswald and Maurice to pioneer it. Though he left South Africa to become Provincial in1926, it is clear from the visitation reports that he still held the reins there till his departure for the USA in 1940 due to the coup staged by some of the Irish and Scots confreres.

The departure of Fr Tozzi for America and the influence of Fr Ainsworth meant that the second educational model waintroduced in South Africa was the model of the selective English Grammar School. Fr Bill Ainsworth was the ‘eminence grise’ under the extremely hesitant Fr Couche. Though he was only provincial secretary yet because he nursed Couche through what we would now see as ‘nervous exhaustion’ after the war, he became a very effective advocate on the Provincial council. He effectively promoted the development of a Catholic boys’ secondary Grammar school on the English model at Lansdowne (after the war) and more effectively still when he became the Provincial Delegate for South Africa, under Fr Hall.

This very clearly was what the English Province was able to offer. Though the first generation of English and Irish Salesians had little formal training though a few had qualified by the pupil teacher route as elementary school teachers, few, if any, before the war had a university degree, much less a teaching qualification. The closure of Lansdowne as a Farm led to the purchase of a property outside Johannesburg and the transfer of the dairy herd to this new site in 1949.
Daleside, though it was thought of initially as an agricultural school very quickly developed an interesting side-line that became an unusual feature for the Salesians. In the first reports, it says that while there are very few white pupils at the College, the native school has already 60 pupils in the first year of its existence. This was the Salesians first entry into non-white education in South Africa, even though it took place as a bye-product of their main work.

While it is true that the schools at Lansdowne and in Daleside actually developed as small but very effective Catholic boys boarding and day schools yet they always struggled to find sufficient Catholics willing and able to pay for their sons’ education and a properly qualified Salesian staff.

Swaziland 1953


What is particularly interesting about the foundation in Swaziland is that its pioneers Fr Frank Flynn and Fr Fleming were among the first to gain external London degrees via Wolsey Hall Correspondence courses and when they came to Bremersdorp in 1953 were determined that what was on offer by way of curriculum was in no way inferior to the curriculum and qualifications offered in any equivalent schools in the UK or Ireland.

Despite starting from a much lower base where English was very much a second language, they encouraged a breadth of religious, sporting and cultural activities that can still make us gasp. Not only were teams entered for soccer or ball games inter- school competitions, but also for tennis, athletics, swimming and even cricket as well as debating, poetry and Shakespeare recitations as well as what were described as ‘Zulu’ songs and dancing . The Brass marching band that had so entranced Bishop Bernaschi at the Institute has its successors at Manzini today.

In a very interesting memorandum, in the Delegation archives there is an anonymous paper answering those who would have preferred to restrict the range of the curriculum to the standards required for the Junior Certificate and avoid the difficulties of staffing and teaching the students up to the Matriculation, pre- university exam.

The author suggests that this proposal assumes that Africans should only be given a level of education suitable for their proper expectations. This is strongly refuted by the author for whom university education should be made possible for their students as indeed it was and the chronicle recounts the first Manzini student to attend the university at Roma in 1960.

One feature had, also, been learned from the Cape experience. A clause that would have excused the Salesians from mission work outside school was excised from the agreement by the Provinicial Council so that not only was Manzini, a Catholic Boys Grammar school it was also a Mission centre for Swaziland. One can trace the origins of the Malkerns Mission and School from this clause and also the immense service and responsibilities that the Salesians have assumed at the Cathedral, for the diocese and for the wider Church in Southern Africa as a result.

Swaziland became an outstanding educational example for a Southern Africa bedevilled by racial segregation in education and ‘apartheid’ in society where highly motivated educationalists and missionaries could shape a new generation of African leaders.

One laconic note in the Manzini chronicle while recording that the German Dominican sisters were invited for the Academy( Sacred Concert) for the Feast or Our Lady also notes that ex- chief Albert Lutueli the leader of the ANC was the guest of Honour. This was at a time where he was practically always under house arrest in South Africa and yet it was to the Salesians that he felt it was safe to entrust his sons for their education.

In the immediate aftermath of the Sharpeville shootings, when racial tension was on the boil and school strikes occurred in Manzini too, the Salesians managed by reference to the Royal Councillors, to diffuse most of the discontent.

In a later episode of school disturbances after the Soweto schools riots in 1975 Fr Larry O'Donnell suspected but wisely closed a blind eye to his Deputy, Stanley Mabizlea’s out of school activities. He actually turned out to be the Head of the ANC's organisation in Swaziland organising the armed resistance to the South African forces around Swaziland.


Boyseens 1952


Less clear educationally effective was the impact of the Young White Workers Hostel at Boyseens founded in 1952. Though clearly founded as a way of trying to offer young white workers a decent basis from which to complete apprenticeships, it never became really became part of the network whereby local businesses actually supported the work. Unlike similar work in Munich, employers were never convinced that they might have any social obligations to house, or supervise their apprentices outside work.

Development of the DB charism until the middle of the 20th century

Developments in the Salesian educational mission in the Congo

Alphonsine Fwamba Tshabu, fma

Introduction

In an educational issue on RFI, dedicated to the contemporary history of Africa through his great men, Alain Foka thus introduces the topic: "No one has the right to delete a page of the history of a people because a people without history is a soulless world ” ; and on Face book, I read that it is a real mission to allow young Africans "... to know that they are not coming from anywhere". This formative mission entrusted to historians and the media is carried out today through this Congress of Salesian History in preparation for the Jubilee of the Bicentenary of the Birth of Don Bosco. In tracing back to the source of the Salesian charism I revisited, recalled, relived every memory, every gesture - however banal it was - that contributed to the construction of the great building that became the Salesian Work of the FMA in our nation, today the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

I would like to express my gratitude here to our pioneer missionary Sisters of Europe who have sown the charism of Don Bosco and Maria Mazzarello in the Congo, "going forward overcoming every obstacle", sustained by their own ardent faith and guided by the well-known general objective : forming " good Christians and honest citizens" , as can be seen through their various initiatives, from the moment they arrived in the Congo in 1926. In my contribution, I concentrated on the twenty-five first years (1926-1951), the years of "humble beginnings", when the Work of the FMA was being carried out as a mosaic of small parts added step by step and whose beautiful face appeared after a certain time.

1. The context in which the FMA arrived

The presence of the FMA in the Congo is linked to that of the Salesians of Don Bosco, already present in the Belgian Congo since 1911. Fr Francesco Scaloni, Provincial of Belgium and the Belgian Congo, at the end of the canonical visit to Élizabethville in 1914 - today Lubumbashi - expressed the first wish that the FMA should come soon to the Congo, given the urgency of the education of the woman and the young Congolese girl; and this despite the harsh living conditions in the villages, tropical diseases, etc. Thus there were many disputes between Fr Joseph Sak, the then Director of the House of Élizabethville and Superior of the Salesians of the Congo and Mgr Jean-Félix de Hemptinne, Benedictine, Apostolic Prefect of Katanga since 1910.

In 1924, Don Sak was able to obtain from the Holy See an area of ​​evangelization in the extreme south of the Congo, "the Boot of Sakania", which became the Apostolic Prefecture of High-Luapula entrusted to the SDB, and in particular to himself, appointed Prefect on September 13, 1925. He was now free to create the works he wanted and entrust them to the congregations he would personally choose. In that year, Mother Luisa Vaschetti, who succeeded Mother Caterina Daghero, entrusted the foundation of the first mission of the FMA in the Congo to the Province of Belgium. Thus, without delay, Archbishop Sak wanted to start a first FMA work near the home of the SDBs in Sakania, the capital of his Prefecture.

2. Overview of the foundation of the various communities and works (1926-1951)
2.1. Sakania (1926)

On 24 January 1926, at 4 am, the population of Sakania, led by Bishop Sak, saw the first six FMA from Belgium arrive at the train station. They were warmly welcomed. In the light of a lantern, says the chronicle, Monsignor took them to a poor house "in masonry of clayey ground" which would be their home. This first team included Sister Mathilde Meukens, Belgian - the Superior -, Sister Serafina Ughetti, Italian - the Economa -, Sister Valérie Herkens and three sisters with temporary vows, all of them Belgian: Sister Maria Van Assche, Sister Rachel Vleurinck and Sister Hubertine Wolckenar. Let's see what these Sisters have accomplished in this mission land. 

2.1.1. Provide a roof

According to the Chronicle, five days after their arrival, as soon as their bags are unpacked and their house settled, they are already "welcoming" already a first hostess, Marie Claquin, a small 11-year-old mulatto; and at the end of the year, there were already six female guests.

Other girls were accepted in semi-boarding school: it was the case of Ngandwe, a three-month-old girl on the verge of death from malnutrition, who her mother began, on November 26, 1926, to deposit her with the Sisters in the morning and resume it in the evening , so that the child could receive the due food that her mother could not give her. After five months, the child had recovered so well that she could remain permanently in her family. 

2.1.2. Childhood Work and Medical Assistance to the population

Beyond this, the Sisters began a first activity in favor of children up to the age of three, to which they lavished hygienic care: soap baths, weighing and medical examinations. Infants also received milk if the mothers could not feed them enough. It should be noted that the mothers who brought the children to the Opera of Childhood, generally also attended the "sewing workshop" where the Sisters taught them some domestic knowledge: you can see the beginning of what we call today "the rural development or social promotion ".

The second activity was the medical one, born from the fact that the adult population, seeing the concern of the Sisters to come to their aid, spontaneously presented themselves for treatment. So without waiting for the state or another institution to build adequate infrastructure, the FMA began to provide assistance to the people of the neighborhood abandoned to itself. Only in 1944 the provincial government of Katanga built a state hospital for the entire population of the surrounding villages, entrusting the management to the FMA.

2.1.3. From literacy to formal, maternal and elementary school

On February 4, 1926, the day the FMA welcomed the first hostess, she also set off, in an SDB room, a first form of rudimentary school with about fifty mothers, with their children carried on their backs and a big girl on their side in case of help. You can imagine the scene: the mothers trying to learn to read by singing - something they love very much - while their children have fun doing gymnastics, and all in the greatest spontaneity of simple people. In addition to these activities, a Sunday oratory was added, with catechism, which began on 19 September 1926 with seven children.

Little by little things took a more complete form. In December 1926, a kindergarten was started for the (white) children of the European settlers who were in Sakania for work. This school would no longer exist in 1935, since Bishop Sak never encouraged the apostolate among Europeans, convinced that the missionaries were destined in priority to serve the native population. Instead, on March 1, 1932, he authorized Sister Valérie Herkens to start a kindergarten class for Sakania's native children.

In 1929, a dormitory was set up to serve as the classroom of a primary school still in decision making. The girls were separated from their mothers to reach every group that could now evolve at their own pace. Then a second elementary school was opened for the girls under the direction of Sister Maria Wanmans and, in February 1935, a third grade of the elementary school was created specifically for boys: this class existed with the FMA until 1938, when Mons Sak had her transferred to the SDBs. The elementary school started with the first two degrees.

2.2. Kafubu (1929)

2.2.1. Foundation

On 24 January 1929, through Archbishop Sak, in agreement with Mother General Luisa Vaschetti, a second community (missionary station) was founded by the FMA in Kafubu, 15 km from Élisabethville, in full rural area, with small villages in the surroundings. On that date, Sister Matilde Meukens, the Superior of the FMA in the Congo, and two other Sisters, Maria Van Assche and Hubertine Wolkenar, left Sakania to go to Kafubu.

2.2.2. Elementary school and boarding school (1929)

From Sakania, the Sisters brought with them three little girls who housed (in the form of a boarding school). Ten days after their arrival, February 4, 1929, the first elementary school class started with about forty students. They taught religion, reading, writing, singing, drawing and hygiene. On February 3, 1930, a second class was started with 26 students. A few months later, the Sisters engaged in the literacy of vagabond village boys. If this form of schooling with boys has not been a great success, it continues, however, with girls. In 1935, the boarding school for elementary school students was transferred to Musoshi, and then to Kafubu in 1955, on the occasion of the opening of the "Home Saint Joseph" [Casa San Giuseppe].

2.2.3. The clinic (1930)

Given the need to treat children, the FMA began the Childhood Work in Kafubu in 1930, as they had already done in Sakania. Seeing that many patients (adults) did not have where to go for treatment, a makeshift clinic was added to a room in the local elementary school, waiting for one to be able to build a clinic in due form. Bishop Sak sent them drugs. It can be said that the clinic has "saved" many lives, not only in the Kafubu, but also in several nearby villages. 

2.2.4. The first orphanage in Kafubu (1947)

As the number of orphans grew in the area, it soon became necessary to set up an "orphanage", which began in Kafubu, on 9 July 1947, without the need for an immediately suitable building with the necessary equipment. It was done as it was possible! We had to wait until 1950 to benefit from an adequate building, following the initiative of Mgr. René Van Heusden, the successor of Mons. Sak, who obtained financial subsidies from the "Fond du Bien-être Indigène" [FBI] (" Indigenous Wellness Fund ”). The goal was not to keep children permanently, but to reintegrate them into their families as soon as possible.

2.3. Musoshi (1936)

We quickly mention the beginning of an FMA community in Kipushya in 1932: a mission station in the lower part of the Sakania boot, in a very remote area, where the SDBs had settled in 1929. The FMA community was quickly closed after two years of existence (in 1934): officially for financial reasons, Msgr. Sak no longer having the possibility of providing for a third house of the FMA. But it seems that the real reason was the fact that they had failed to start a work due to the reticent attitude of the population and the lack of a proper collaboration with the Salesian Director - from the dominating character - of this missionary station. According to some witnesses, the Sisters would go away crying.

The work of the FMA in Musoshi, about 40 km from the Kafubu, still in the rural area of ​​the Boot of Sakania, was more successful. SDB and FMA had arrived there almost simultaneously in 1935-1936. The FMA school activities also began here in very precarious situations. A first grade elementary school was housed in a straw hut, with no blackboard or desks, with a small blackboard on its knees. The girls, all internal, ate their meals under the trees for lack of a refectory; and it was not unusual to see the students contend for their own dish with the monkeys or to run away suddenly because of a snake fallen from a tree in their midst! To stimulate a taste for learning and regularity in attending classes, the Sisters always had to go to the villages to encourage parents to send their children to school; on the other hand, girls could be absent for housework, especially when the harvest was approaching. Often the girls were married precociously by their parents.

Here, too, solid constructions were built much later. In fact, it was only in 1950 that the Musoshi Mission obtained substantial help from the "Indigenous Wellbeing Fund" and the " Center d'Etudes des Problèmes Sociaux Indigènes"(CEPSI) [Center for the Study of Indigenous Social Problems]; this aid allowed the construction of a series of new buildings: outpatient clinic, hospital, boarding school for girls, and above all a "pedagogical school". This was the first FMA secondary school in the Congo, a school called "pedagogical learning" that lasted two years, able to train female teachers graduated to teach in elementary schools at least in the first grade. A "heroic" beginning because, as there were no candidates on the spot, they had to be convinced and brought from the entire Vicariate of Sakania.

2.4. A novelty: the BCK community in Elisabethville (1951)

Great news: in 1951, this time with the full consent of Bishop Hemptinne, the FMA could open a first house in Élisabethville, in the urban area. A community at the service of the railway company hospital called " Bas - Congo-Katanga" (BCK). Fortunately, the Sisters had the opportunity to be well paid by this Society; therefore this allowed them not to be in charge of the SDB or the local Church. Although the FMA's main commitment was the medical service, being in this house in Élisabethville allowed them to carry out an intense activity of youth accompaniment in the various Catholic Movements existing in this city.

3. Conclusions: elements of spirituality and pedagogy lived by the FMA in the Congo

To conclude, we recall the aspects that favored the insertion of the Salesian charism in the Congo through the FMA:

- A profound spirituality made of sacrifice and self-denial: The pioneer missionaries faced a difficult climate (sometimes very humid and hot, sometimes extremely dry and cold), tropical diseases, the remoteness of cities, in a region where roads and bridges were rare or often in poor condition. The Sisters lived in isolated communities, without communication with the outside world. The adaptation to a people so different from those of Europe was not a trivial matter. On the material level, sometimes the necessary to live normally was lacking. This is still witnessed today by a Belgian missionary nun, Sister Josée Vandevoort - 95 years - arrived in the Congo in 1948: "The Sisters sometimes suffered from hunger to such an extent that they had to share a single egg to eat"! So we believe that missionary activity took place with very limited resources, but for the inner dynamism of every FMA, whose source originated in faith in Jesus Christ who gave them strength and hope. Here is an aspect that would be advantageous to rediscover today the poverty of the beginning: the FMA did not wait to have the adequate infrastructure to start their educational activity. As we have seen, the beginnings were very modest: simple but profound activities, without any resounding success: "He who sows in tears will reap in joy", says the psalmist (Ps 126.5). The Sisters could have been discouraged due to a lack of cooperation from the local population that is well rooted in their customs, and for lack of financial resources. This has not happened, fortunately. Here is an aspect that would be advantageous to rediscover today the poverty of the beginning: the FMA did not wait to have the adequate infrastructure to start their educational activity. As we have seen, the beginnings were very modest: simple but profound activities, without any resounding success: "He who sows in tears will reap in joy", says the psalmist (Ps 126.5). The Sisters could have been discouraged due to a lack of cooperation from the local population that is well rooted in their customs, and for lack of financial resources. This has not happened, fortunately. Here is an aspect that would be advantageous to rediscover today the poverty of the beginning: the FMA did not wait to have the adequate infrastructure to start their educational activity. As we have seen, the beginnings were very modest: simple but profound activities, without any resounding success: "He who sows in tears will reap in joy", says the psalmist (Ps 126.5). The Sisters could have been discouraged due to a lack of cooperation from the local population that is well rooted in their customs, and for lack of financial resources. This has not happened, fortunately. without any resounding success: "He who sows in tears will reap in joy", says the psalmist (Ps 126.5). The Sisters could have been discouraged due to a lack of cooperation from the local population that is well rooted in their customs, and for lack of financial resources. This has not happened, fortunately. without any resounding success: "He who sows in tears will reap in joy", says the psalmist (Ps 126.5). The Sisters could have been discouraged due to a lack of cooperation from the local population that is well rooted in their customs, and for lack of financial resources. This has not happened, fortunately.

- The effort for inculturation and learning of the local language : Note that since their arrival, the FMA missionaries have diligently applied themselves to learning the local language, the Cibemba, encouraged by the Superior, Sister Mathilde. You may not believe it, but the fact is that Mathilde has hand-copied, in its entirety, a Cibemba dictionary before being able to buy a copy for each Sister, despite the limited financial resources available.

- The oratorian style: The oratory was one of the first activities of the FMA. In the same context, various Associations came to be added: the Devotees of Mary Help of Christians, the Daughters of Mary, the Maria-Domenica Association, the Association of Angels, etc. in which the spiritual element was central in offering young people stimulating ways of life. In the way the FMA works in the Congo, there has always been a strong family spirit highly appreciated by the students, which contained the known Salesian ingredients: joy, humor, organization and creativity; and everything through singing, theater, sport, walks, and above all the trips during which the girls - the schools as the oratory - prepared their own food, in the savannah on the banks of a river, something they liked them very much!

- The pedagogy of the feasts : The liturgical celebrations of the Church, as well as those specific to the Salesian Family, were particularly honored. On those occasions, novenas and tridus were organized with the "fioretto", a solemn mass, and then the usual recreational activities already mentioned. Furthermore, the anniversaries or visits of the Apostolic Prefect, the Superior (SDB) of the mission, or the Superior Sister took place in a festive atmosphere.

- The importance reserved for sacramental preparation : After the long preparation of the catechumens to receive the sacraments (in collaboration with the SDBs), the FMA welcomed for a couple of days different groups of children, young people, adults (men or women): a opportunity to offer them catechism lessons more intensely, without those people being too worried about material things.

- The care for the ex-students : On 6 December 1948, the first gathering of the ex-pupils took place in Kafubu, to prepare to celebrate the Immaculate Conception; this type of gathering has been maintained for a long time. It was the beginning of the AEFMA Association in the Congo.

(Translated from the French by Placide Carava, sdb)  

Development of the charism of Don Bosco until the middle of the 20th century.

Developments in the Salesian educational mission in the Congo

Alphonsine Fwamba Tshabu, fma

Introduction

In one of RFI's educational programs devoted to the contemporary history of Africa through his great men, Alain Foka introduces the program in these terms: " No one has the right to erase a page from history of a people because a people without history is a world without soul "; and on Facebook , I read the statement that it is a true educational mission to enable young people in Africa "... to know that they do not come from nowhere". This formative mission entrusted to historians and the media is being carried out today by this Salesian History Congress in preparation for the Jubilee of the Bicentenary of the Birth of Don Bosco. The experience of going to the source of the implantation of the Salesian charisma made me revisit, retrace, relive and collect any memory, any gesture so commonplace that it contributed to the construction of the great building that became the Salesian FMA in our country - the Democratic Republic of Congo - today.

I express my gratitude to our pioneering missionary Sisters of Europe who have sown in the Congo the charism of Don Bosco and Mary Mazzarello, "against winds and tides", supported by their ardent faith and guided by the well-known general objective : to train "the good Christian and the honest citizen", as we will see through the various activities undertaken since their arrival in Congo in 1926. In my contribution, I concentrated on the first twenty-five years (1926-1951) ), these years of "modest beginnings" where the work of the FMA was realized as a mosaic of small pieces added step by step and whose beautiful figure appeared only after a while.

1. The context in which the FMA arrived

The presence of the FMA in Congo is linked to that of the Salesians of Don Bosco already present in the Belgian Congo since 1911. Father Francesco Scaloni, provincial of Belgium and Belgian Congo, at the end of his canonical visit in 1914 to the house of Elisabethville, today, Lubumbashi, expressed, the first wish that the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians come quickly to the Congo given the urgency of the education of the Congolese woman and girl, despite the harsh conditions living in villages, tropical diseases etc. From then on, there was much controversy between Father Joseph Sak, then director of the house of Elisabethville and superior of the Salesians in Congo, and Mgr Jean-Félix de Hemptinne, Benedictine, prefect apostolic of Katanga since 1910.

In 1924, Le Père Sak gave the Saint-Siège a territory of evangelization in the southern extremity of the Congo, "La Botte de Sakania", who after the Apostolic Prefecture of Haut-Luapula was assigned to SDB, particularly at lui-même nommé Préfet on September 13, 1925. Désormais, you are free from and believe in the works that I want to give you from the congregations that are celebrated. In the same year, Mère Louise Vaschetti, who succeeded Mère Caterina Daghero, trusts the foundation of the premiere mission of FMA in Congo in the province of Belgique. Alors, late, Mgr Sak thinks about a premiere work from FMA near the house from SDB to Sakania, chef-lieu de sa Préfecture.

2. Overview of the founding of different communities and works (1926-1951)
2.1. Sakania (1926)

On January 24th, 1926, at 4:00 am, the population of Sakania, with Mgr Sak at the head, saw arriving at the train station the first six FMA from Belgium. They were warmly welcomed. In the light of a lantern, says the chronicle, Mgr led them to a poor house "adobe", which would be their home. The first team was Sr Mathilde Meukens, a Belgian national, who was the superior; Sr. Séraphine Ughetti, of Italian nationality, who was economical; Sr. Valérie Herkens and three other temporary vows, all of Belgian nationality: Sr. Maria Van Assche, Sr. Rachel Vleurinck and Sr. Hubertine Wolckenar. Let's see what they achieved in this mission land.

2.1.1. Offer a roof

According to the information given in the Chronicle, five days since their arrival, the time needed to unpack their luggage and arrange their little house, they "welcomed" already a first resident: Marie Claquin, a small mulatto of 11 years, and at the end of the year, the boarders were already six.

Other girls were welcomed in half-board: this was the case for Ngandwe, a three-month-old girl on the verge of death from malnutrition, that her mother began, November 26, 1926, to file with the Sisters in the morning and take her back in the evening so that she can get enough nutrition that the mother could not give her. At the end of five months, the child had recovered so well that she could definitely return to her family.

2.1.2. Childhood work and medical care to the population

Beside this, the sisters initiated a first activity for babies up to the age of three, to which they lavished hygienic care: soapy baths, weighing, as well as consultation by a doctor. Babies also received milk in case the mothers did not know how to feed them enough. It should be noted that the mothers who introduced their children to the work of childhood usually attended the "workroom" where the Sisters taught them some household knowledge: we can see here a beginning of what we call today : rural development or social promotion.

The second activity was medical, born of the fact that the adult population, seeing the solicitude of the Sisters to help them, came spontaneously to be cared for. So, without waiting for the state or another body to build appropriate infrastructure, the FMA began to provide care to people in the surrounding area left to their own devices. It was not until 1944 that the provincial government of Katanga built a state hospital for the entire surrounding population of villages, entrusting its management to the FMA.

2.1.3. From literacy to formal, kindergarten and primary school

On February 4, 1926, the day when the FMA welcomed the first boarder, also started, in a local SDB, a first form of rudimentary education with fifty mothers, their babies on the back and a big girl at their side for a possible help. One can imagine the scene: moms learning to read by singing - what they love - while their children have fun doing gymnastics, all happening in the greatest spontaneity of the day. simple people. To the activities already mentioned, finally added a Sunday patronage, with the catechism, which began September 19, 1926 with seven children.

Little by little things took a more complete form. In December 1926, there was the opening of a kindergarten for the (white) children of European settlers who lived in Sakania because of their work. This school would cease to exist in 1935 because Archbishop Sak never encouraged the apostolate among Europeans in his conviction that the missionaries were primarily intended to serve the native population. For cons, the 1 st March 1932, he allowed the Sr. Valery Herkens launch a guardian class for Aboriginal children Sakania.

In 1929, a dormitory was built to serve as a class of a primary school in gestation. The girls were separated from the mothers for the benefit of each group that could now evolve at their own pace. Then, a second basic class was opened for girls under the direction of Sr. Maria Wanmans and, in February 1935, a third class of the primary school was created specifically for boys: this class existed at the FMA until 1938 , date when Mgr Sak made her move to the SDB. The primary school was started with the first two degrees.

2.2. Kafubu (1929)

2.2.1. Foundation

On January 24, 1929, through Mgr Sak in agreement with Mother General Louise Vaschetti, a second community (mission station) was founded for the FMA at Kafubu, 15 km from Elisabethville, in the middle of the rural area, with small villages around. On that date, Sr. Mathilde Meukens, the superior of the FMA in Congo, and two other sisters, Maria Van Assche and Hubertine Wolkenar, left Sakania to go to Kafubu. 

2.2.2. Primary school and boarding school (1929)

From Sakania, the sisters brought with them, three little girls whom they hosted (in the form of boarding school). Ten days after their arrival, on February 4, 1929, a first class of primary school started with about forty students. Religion, reading, writing, singing, drawing and hygiene were taught here. On February 3, 1930, a second class opened with 26 students; A few months later, the sisters began to teach the little vagrant boys of the village. While this form of schooling for boys has not been a great success, it has continued for girls. In 1935, the boarding school for primary school students was transferred to Musoshi, to return to Kafubu in 1955, at the opening of Home St. Joseph.

2.2.3. The dispensary (1930)

Given the need for child care in 1930, the FMA initiated the Childhood Work Kafubu, as they had already done in Sakania. Seeing that many (adult) patients had no place to go for treatment, a makeshift clinic was added to a primary school room, until a proper clinic could be built. Mgr Sak sent them medicine. It can be said that this clinic has "saved" many lives, not only in the Kafubu, but also in several surrounding villages.

2.2.4. The first orphanage at Kafubu (1947)

Since in the region the number of orphaned children was always growing, we soon felt the need to open an "orphanage" which started in Kafubu on July 9, 1947, without immediately having a suitable building and equipment required. We managed as best we could. It was not until the year 1950 to have a suitable building, as a result of the initiative of Mgr. René Van Heusden, the successor of Mgr. Sak, who obtained subsidies from the Indigenous Wellbeing Fund (FBI acronym). The goal was not to keep the children permanently, but to reintegrate them into their families as soon as possible.

2.3. Musoshi (1936)

We move quickly on the opening of an FMA community in Kipushya, in 1932, mission station located at the bottom of the Sakania Boot, in a very isolated area, where the SDB had established in 1929. The community of FMA was quickly closed after two years of existence (in 1934), officially for financial reasons, Mgr Sak no longer having the opportunity to support a third home of the FMA. But it seems that the real motive was that they had failed to start a work, given the reluctant mentality of the population and the lack of good collaboration with the SDB, because of the dominant nature of the Salesian director of this mission station. According to the testimonies, the Sisters were gone crying.

The FMA work in Musoshi, some 40 km from Kafubu, still in the rural area of ​​Sakania's Boot, was more successful. The SDBs and the FMA arrived there almost at the same time in 1935-1936. Here again, the school activities of the FMA began in very precarious situations. A first class of primary school was housed in a straw hut, without a table or benches, with slate on the knees. The girls, all interns, had their meals under the trees, for lack of refectory and it was not uncommon to see the students argue their dish with the monkeys or to see the students abruptly run away because of a a snake that had fallen from a tree in their midst! To stimulate the taste of education and regularity in school attendance, at school, the Sisters had to go continually to the villages to encourage parents to send their children to school, otherwise the pupils would be absent because of housework, especially when the harvest time was approaching. Girls were often married early by parents.

Here again, solid constructions followed only much later. Indeed, it was in the 1950s that the Musoshi Mission obtained consistent support from the Indigenous Well-being Fund and the Center for Studies of Indigenous Social Problems (CEPSI), which made it possible to build a series of buildings. new: dispensary, hospital, boarding school for girls, and especially a "pedagogical school". It was the first high school of the FMA in Congo, school, known as "teaching learning" of a two-year, able to train graduate teachers for primary schools at least 1 st degree. A beginning "heroic" because not finding candidates on the spot, it was necessary to convince them and bring them from all the vicariate of Sakania. 

2.4. A novelty: the BCK community in Elisabethville (1951)

Great novelty: in 1951, this time with the full consent of Bishop de Hemptinne, the FMA was able to open a first house in Elisabethville, in an urban area. A community serving the hospital of the railway company called Bas-Congo-Katanga (BCK). The sisters were fortunate enough to be well paid by this society, which enabled them to take care of themselves without depending on the SDB or the local Church. Although the main work of the FMA was the medical service, this house being located in Elisabethville, it allowed them to develop an intense activity of supervision of the young people in the various catholic movements existing in this city.

3. Conclusions: elements of spirituality and pedagogy experienced by the FMA in the Congo

In conclusion, let us note the aspects that favored the insertion of the Salesian charism in Congo through the FMA:

- a deep spirituality of sacrifice and self-denialthe missionary pioneers had to face an uneasy climate (sometimes extremely humid and hot, sometimes extremely dry and cold), tropical diseases, the remoteness of cities, in a region where roads and bridges were rare or often very bad state. They lived in isolated communities, without communication with the outside world; adaptation to a people so different from those in Europe was not easy. On the material level, sometimes the necessary was lacking to live normally. As a Belgian missionary sister, Josée Vandevoort, 95, who arrived in the Congo in 1948, testifies: "the sisters sometimes suffered from hunger so much that they had to share a single egg to feed themselves" ! We believe that the missionary activity was then realized, without great means, but from the inner dynamism of each FMA that had its source in the faith in Jesus Christ that gave them strength and hope. Aspect it would be beneficial to rediscover today.early poverty: the FMA did not wait until it had the proper infrastructure to begin its education activities. As we have seen, the beginnings were very modest: simple but profound activities, without any striking success: "Who sows in tears, reaps singing," says the psalmist. The Sisters could have been discouraged given the lack of collaboration of the local population rooted in its customs and the lack of financial means. That did not happen, fortunately.

- the effort of inculturation and learning of the local language: We notice that arrived on the spot, the FMA missionaries immediately applied themselves zealously to the learning of the local language, the Cibemba, encouraged by the superior, Sr Mathilde. We may not believe it, but it is a fact that she copied by hand, and in full, a dictionary of Cibemba before being able to buy a copy later for each sister and that, despite the lack of means financial resources available.

- the oratorian style:Patronage (oratory) was one of the first activities of the FMA. In this same context, various associations were added: the devotees of Mary Help of Christians, the Children of Mary, the Association of Mary Dominic, the Association of Angels, etc. where the spiritual element was central in providing young people with stimulating life models. In the way of working of the FMA in Congo, there was always a strong family spirit which was very appreciated by the pupils and which had the well-known Salesian ingredients: spirit of cheerfulness, humor, organization and creativity; and that through the songs, the theater, the sport, the walks, and especially the excursions during which the girls, schools as of the patronage, prepared themselves their food in bush at the edge of a river, something that they loved!

- the pedagogy of the feasts: The liturgical festivals of the Church, as well as those proper to the Salesian Family, were in the spotlight. On this occasion, novenas or triduums were organized with the "fioretto", a solemn Mass, and after, the usual recreational activities already mentioned. In addition, the birthdays or visits of the apostolic prefect, the superior (SDB) of the mission, or the superior sister took place in a climate of celebration.

- the importance given to preparation for the sacraments: At the end of the long preparation of the catechumens at the reception of the sacraments (in collaboration with the SDB), the FMA welcomed for a few days at home, different groups of children, young people, adults (men or women): an opportunity to receive catechetical teachings in a more intense way without worrying too much about the material.

- the care given to the former students: It was on December 6, 1948 that the first meeting of the old students took place in the Kafubu, to prepare to celebrate the Immaculate; kind of meeting that has been going on for a long time. It was the beginning of the AEFMA Association, in Congo.


[1] See L. VAN LOOY and G: MALIZIA, Salesian vocational training, Rome. LAS, 1997, p. 19.

[2] See L. VAN LOOY and G: MALIZIA, Salesian vocational training, Rome. LAS, 1997, p. 25

[3] The two reforms affecting the life of D. Bosco in Piedmont are: The Boncompagni law of 1848 and the Casati law of 1859

[4] STELLA P., Don Bosco in economic and social history LAS, 1980, pag. 248

[5]   From 1856 Don Bosco, after various experiments, began the work of vocational schools with his own apprenticeship.

[6] Idem pag 27

[7] See L. VAN LOOY and G: MALIZIA, Salesian vocational training, Rome. LAS, 1997, p. 30

[8] Don Bosco in the world , 1964, pag.151

[9] From now on FMA.

[10] Cf Grazia Loparco - Maria Teresa Spiga, the Uglie di Maria Ausiliatrice in Italy (1872-2010). Help in education. Documentation and studies , Rome, LAS 2011, pp. 12. 14.

[11] Cf G. Loparco, The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Italian society. Pathways and research problems (1990-1922) = Il Prisma 24, Rome, LAS 2002. The second part of the research highlights the diversification of the works of the FMA (pp. 281-705).

[12] Mara Borsi, A training workshop: the magazine "Da Mihi Animas" = Orizzonti 21, Rome, LAS 2006.

[13] The process was initiated in 2011 with the establishment of two commissions: a study commission and an international one made up of FMA experts in the animation of this educational environment (cf Setting for Youth Pastoral, Oratory building site open , Rome, LAS 2013 , pp. 15-16, in particular note 3).

[14] Cf M. Borsi, An educational environment with multiple and differentiated proposals. The identity of the OCG promoted by the magazine Da mihi animas (1953-1990) , in the ambit of Youth Ministry, Oratory ..., pp. 85-107 .

[15] Cf Giorgio Chiosso, Education and pedagogy in the pages of the "Salesian Bulletin" of the early twentieth century , in Jesús Gonzáles Graciliano - Grazia Loparco - Francesco Motto - Stanislaw Zimniak, Salesian education from 1880 to 1922. Instances and implementation in different contextsvol. I = Association of Salesian History, Studies 1, Rome LAS 2007, pp. 126-133. The first congress of festive oratories is held in Brescia (10 June 1895) on the initiative of the Filipino fathers, followed by others, in 1902 in Turin on the initiative of Fr Rua. In Faenza (April 1907) the third congress takes place, the fourth in Milan on the occasion of the third centenary of the Ambrosian oratories (September 1909), the fifth again in Turin in 1911 and, after the First World War, in Cagliari in 1921 and in Bologna in April 1923.

[16] For a more in-depth view on the contribution of the Salesians to the Congresses of the first decade of the twentieth century and on the situation of the speakers of the Congregation of St. Francis de Sales cf Pietro Braido , The Salesian oratory in Italy "place" favorable to catechesis in the season of Congressi (1888-1915), in "Salesian Historical Researches" 24 (2005) 1 (46), pp. 7-88; Id., The Salesian Oratory in a dramatic decade (1913-1922) , in "Historical Salesian Research" 24 (2005) 2 (47), pp. 211-268.

[17] Cf Luciano Caimi, The educational contribution of the speakers and youth associations , in Luciano Pazzaglia (edited by), Catholics, education and socio-cultural transformations in Italy between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries , Brescia, La Scuola 1999, pp. 629-696.

[18] Cf Regulation for the installation and development of festive oratories at the Sisters' houses, in Deliberations of the General Chapters of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians held in Nizza Monferrato in 1884, 1886 and 1892, Turin, Tip. Salesian 1894, pp. 39-44.

[19] Cf Regulation of the women's festive oratory , Turin, Tip. Salesian 1985.

[20] Regulations and Programs for festive Oratories and for kindergartens , Turin, Tip. Silvestrini & Cappelletto 1912, 1.

[21] Cf Subjects to be discussed in the VII General Chapter of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Commission Question 6, in the General Archive of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (AGFMA) 11.7 121; General Chapter VIII held in Nizza Monferrato in September 1922, p. 43; General Chapter IX. Nizza Monferrato 1928. Answers - Instructions - Exhortations of the Superior Fr. Filippo Rinaldi Rector Major of the Salesian Society and Apostolic Delegate for the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians , Turin, FMA Institute, p. 21;General Chapter X held in Turin in July 1934. Answers - Instructions - Exhortations of the Most Reverend Don Pietro Ricaldone Rector Major of the Salesian Society and Apostolic Delegate for the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians , Turin, FMA Institute 1934, pp .44-45;

[22] Cf General Chapter XI of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians held in Turin - General House from 16 to 24 July 1947 , Turin, FMA Institute 1947, pp.58-59.

[23] Cf P. Ruffinatto, The educational report. Orientations and experiences in the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians = Il Prisma 28, Rome, LAS 2003, pp. 268. 303.

[24] Elisa Roncallo (1856-1919) comes Eletta Consigliera Generale and Assistant First in 1907 during Chapter VII (cf Giuseppina Mainetti, Mother Elisa Roncallo from the first disciple of S. Giovanni Bosco , Turin, FMA Institute 1946).

[25] Cf Elisa Roncallo, The family spirit , in Caterina Daghero, Circular letter of 24 January 1917 , n.25.

[26] Mother Daghero (1856-1924) leads the Institute for a long time since the death of Maria Domenica Mazzarello 1881 to 1924 (cf G. Mainetti, Mother Caterina Daghero first Successor of Blessed Maria Mazzarello in the government of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians , Turin, SEI 1940).

[27] Cf Caterina Daghero, Circular Letter of 24 October 1917, n. 33.

[28] Cf Eulalia bosco., New impetus for the speakers , in C. Daghero, Circular letter of 24 April 1923, n.83.

[29] Cf C. Daghero, Circular letter of 24 May 1923 , n. 84.

[30] Cf E. Bosco, Festive Oratories , in C. Daghero, Circular Letter of 24 May 1923 , n. 84.

[31] Id., In the fiftieth anniversary of the missions , in Luisa Vaschetti, Circular letter of 24 December 1927, n. 113.

[32] Carolina Novasconi (1890-1970) joined the general council in 1939 and was responsible for the speakers for twenty years and then vicar general (cf Maria Collino Obeying love: mother Carolina Novasconi , Rome, FMA Institute 1995).

[33] Carolina novasconi., Oratory and college: a difficult relationship? , in L. Lucotti, Circular Letter of 24 September 1946, n. 302.

[34] Cf Stefano Trione, Steering Manual of Festive Oratories and Religion Schools. Clipboard. Echo of the congress of these institutions, held in Turin on 21 and 22 May 1902, p. 142 .

[35] Cf com esempio Maria Imaculada Da Silva - Isabella Cavalho de Menezes, The performance of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in the official Education «Instituto Nossa Senhora Auuxiliadora» - Cachoeira Do Campo, Minas Gerais - Brazil (1904-1922) , in J. Gonzales Graciliano et al. , L'educazione Salesiana ..., vol. II pp. 197-198.

[36] Questi stessi elementi sono sottolineati anche nello studio which presents the diffusion of the FMA in the first decade of the parish presence in Spagna (cf María F. Núñez Muñoz, Mission and education.) The first decade of the presence of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Spain, Seville, Inspectoria María Auxiliadora 2006, pp. 59-61).

[37] S. Trione, Manuale Directivo, p. 142.

[38] Cf Cronaca di Buenos Aires, Almagro , in AGFMA C (879) 01; Cronaca of Buenos Aires, Boca , in AGFMA C (879) 04.

[39] Also in these speakers youth associations are promoted and valued and among the activities one finds walks, games, lotteries, theatrical performances.

[40] Cf Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians , Monograph , Turin, Salesian Typography 1906, in AGFMA 90: 8, p. 4.

[41] Cf Ibib. The 1906 Monograph also publishes an overview of the various works in which it can be seen that the festive oratory is the most widespread work. There are 75 with 32,000 registered and 29,450 attending (cf ibib, p.8).

[42] It was common practice for the speakers to be directed not only by the superior of the religious community, but also by a Salesian director or parish priest. He had the role of spiritual guide for girls and animator of educational activities (Cf Piera Cavaglià, Education of women between inwardness and social responsibility. The educational experience of Don Fiippo Rinaldi , in José Manuel Prellezo, The commitment to educate Studies in honor of Pietro Braido = Encyclopedia of Educational Sciences 45, Rome, LAS 1991, p. 510). For a more in-depth view of the role of the oratory director cf P. Ruffinatto, The educational relationship , pp.106-111.

[43] Cf Regulation for the installation and development of Oratories p. 43; Regulation 1895 III, 2 § 8.

[44] Cf Regulation 1895, II 2 § 2-3.

[45] Cf ibid, III 3-4 § 9.

[46] Cf ibid , VI. III 5.

[47] Cf ibid , §7.

[48] P. Ruffinatto , The contribution of don Michele Rua, p.303.

[49] The biographical notes of the deceased FMA, a precious narrative source, offer numerous testimonies of this practice which is gradually consolidated from its origins and remains alive over time. See, for example, the profile of Giuseppina Ferrero, Cf Giovanna Anzeliero - Elisabetta Maioli, Let's memory. Biographical outline of the FMA deceased in 1988, Rome, FMA Institute 2014, pp. 164-170.

[50] This source is made up of the reports of the various Italian Provinces sent to the General Council on the occasion of the centenary (1941) of the opening of the first oratory by Don Bosco, (cf Chronology of festive oratories , in AGFMA, 331-1 1/11).

[51] Cf Alessia Civitelli, The Oratory of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians at Turin Valdocco at the beginning of the 1900s , in J. Gonzáles Graciliano et al. , Salesian education ..., vol. Pp. 345-375.

[52] Cf ibid , pp. 366-367.

[53] Cf Concetta Ventura, The Oratories in the Houses of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Sicily during the Rectorate of Don Rua (1888 -1910) , in G. Loparco - S. Zimniak, Don Michele Rua , p. 312. The reports kept in the archive of the Sicilian Province are not dated.

[54] Cf ibid , pp. 326-327.

[55] Cf Chronicle of festive oratories , in AGFMA, 331-1-11, p. 13.

[56] Cf ibid , p.4

[57] Cf ibid , p.45. The summer school had this schedule: 9-12 vacation tasks; 14-16 work; 16-17 catechism and gymnastics.

[58] Cf ibid , p.40.

[59] Cf ibid , p. 34

[60] In Gragnano (Naples) in 1937, about sixty ladies adhere to the nuns' invitation and set themselves up as patroness ladies to contribute to the cost of the oratory with a monthly offer of 10 lire (cf ibid , 331 - 1 - 4, p. 15).

[61] Cf ad ibid,331-1-11, p. 23; 331-1-4, p. 10

[62] Cf ibid , 331-1-11, pp. 45-46. In San Severo (Foggia) the oratory is open three years after the establishment of the FMA community, in October 1928. The first Oratorians reach the number of 162 and over the years they are gradually increasing until they reach the number of 720 to decrease in 1937 due, says the source, to the opening of the Parish of S. Maria delle Grazie (cf ibid , 331-1-4, p.38).

[63] Cf ibid , 331-1-11, p. 47; p. 52; p.57. In the History of the Oratory of Reggio Emilia we read: "For some years we have been noticing a decrease in the number of Oratorians and not much consistency in those who frequent it. The proximity of the city attracts them with cinema and other entertainment [...]. To attract them to the oratory, it was decided to reinstate the use of the attendance booklet by promising those with the highest number of presences a small prize in the time of the carnival. This got good fruit. Some recitations have also been made which have served to put some animation and movement in the oratory ”( Ibid , p. 53).

[64] Ibid , 331-1-10, p. 34

[65] Cf ibid , 331-1-2, p. 35. The chronicle of the oratory of the “Santo Spirito” Institute (Livorno) reports the assistance to the orphans of the 1908 earthquake, the work performed in the kitchens set up in the districts most affected by cholera in 1911, assistance to the children of recalled on the occasion of the first and second world wars (cf ibid , 331-1-10, p. 41-42).

[66] Cf ibid , 331-1-4, p 38.

[67] Cf ibid , 331-1-11, pp 5. 19. What is significant is what we read in the chronicle of the oratory of Satriano (Catanzaro): "The house of the oratory is the home of all the youth of the country" ( Ibid , 331-1-4, p. 40)

[68] Ibid , p. 29

[69] Cf Statistics for Countries from the 1st foundation to the whole of 1908 ; Main statistics Works of the FMA Institute throughout the year 1928 ; Specification of the different Works to which the FMA Institute awaits throughout the year 1950 , in AGFMA [without signature]. Noteworthy is the contribution, from the sociological point of view, of Alessandra Mastrodonato, in which the diffusion of the Institute in Italy is presented through its works and in which it is possible to verify the numerical consistency of the oratory (cf Alessandra Mastrodonato, Il rooting in the national territory: houses and works , in F. Motto - G. Loparco, Salesians and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Italy - a common educational path (1859–2010), Rome, LAS 2013, pp. 19-74).

[70] The choice of this period is arbitrary: in 1884 the series "Letture Drammatiche" was born and Don Bosco, while paying considerable attention to the publications, nominated Don Giovanni Battista Lemoyne, the director of the series, that is, editor responsible for the choice of plays to be published and their contents corresponding to the Catholic faith, to the educational and missionary mission of the Salesians. The year 1918, the final year of the First World War, after the war turmoil that changed the political geography of Europe and the world and also involved the Salesians in the different parts of the conflict, started the history of the congregation at birth and to the activity of Salesian works enclosed within national borders.

[71] The six FMA missionaries, all Italian, were: Sr. Innocenza Vallino, Sr. Giulia Berra, Sr. Clothilde Appiano, Sr. Cecilia Da Roit, Sr. Maria Bricarello and Sr. Antonietta Rosetti.

[72] Luigi MATTHIAS, Forty years of mission in India. Memoirs of His Excellency Monsignor Luigi Matthias, Vol. I, In Assam 1921 - 1935. Turin, LDC 1965, p. 116; Chronicle of St. Mary's Convent - Gauhati 1923-1924, 8 December, in AMG-GH; DAUGHTERS OF MARY HELP OF CHRISTIANS, Silver Jubilee Souvenir of the Canonical Erection of the Province of the Immaculate Heart of Mary - North India. Shillong, Don Bosco Press 1978, p. 30.

[73] Cf. Letter of Mons. Stefano Ferrando to Don Pietro Ricaldone, Shillong, January 20, 1939, in the Central Salesian Archive (from now ASC) B709 (file 2), (typewritten). The same letter is published as Stefano FERRANDO, "The Salesian Sister in Mission", in Salesian Bulletin 63 (1939) 5, 145-147.

[74] Ibid em

[75] Letter of Sr. Giulia Berra to Mother Luoisa Vaschetti, Gauhati, 26 January 1926, in the General Archive of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (from now on we will quote: AGFMA 15 [923] 20).

[76] Cf. Chronicle of St. Mary's Convent - Gauhati 1942, June 15, in AMG-GH, (dattiloscritto).

[77] Cf. Chronicle of St. Mary's Convent - Gauhati 1942, November 29, in AMG-GH, (dattiloscritto).

[78] Cf. Chronicle of Sacred Heart Convent (Civil Hospital) - Guwahati 1945, March 17, in AIHM-SH, (manuscript).

[79] Cf. Immaculate Chronicle of the Heart of Mary Convent (Ganesh Das Hospital) - Shillong 1947, October 30, in AIHM-SH, (manuscript).

[80] Other houses were opened after the 1950s: Hong Kong: Tank King Po 1953, St Anthony 1952, Taiwan: Tainan 1963, Taipei 1967 etc.

[81] Inspectors from 1958 to the present: 1958-1962 Don Bernard Tohill; 1962-1968 Don Luigi Massimino; 1968-1974; Don Alessandro Ma ; 1974-1977 don Giovanni Wang; 1977-1983 don Joseph Zen; 1983-1989 don Norberto Che; 1989-1995 don Giovanni Battista Zen; 1995-2001 don Pietro Ho; 2001-2006 don Savio; 2006-2012 don Simone Lam; 2012 - don Lanfranco Fedrigotti.

[82] Inter Nos 1925-30:

[83]Who does not remember the sad and bloody history page of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic? In a week, from 2 to 8 October 1937, the Haitians are killed with machetes, knives by troops, civilians and local Dominican political authorities. This massacre of the Haitians was an action calculated and implemented by the President of the Republic, the dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina to homogenize the population of the border area and destroy this embryo of the "Haitian republic" of which the Dominican authorities spoke referring to important Haitian immigration in their country. The massacre took place on the Dominican shore of the river of Dajabon called from that moment "River of the Massacre". Between 15,000 and 30,000 Haitians were killed without gender or age differences.

[84] The Sisters open primary school to external schools with two classes. The school grows little by little and, on 6 June 1959, the first group of students can successfully pass the State exams.

[85] Giovanni Battista LEMOYNE, Biographical Memoirs of Don Giovanni Bosco, Vol. III . Turin, SEI, 1903, p. 569.

[86] "The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians arrived in Colombia, at the request of Father Rabagliati, Superior of the Salesian Fathers in this nation. Six missionaries led by Mother Brigida Prandi arrived in Bogota on January 11, 1897. " Cecilia ROMERO, Sr. Honorina Lanfranco, teacher by vocation and teacher educator , in: Jesús Graciliano GONZÁLEZ- Grazia LOPARCO- Francesco MOTTO-Stanislaw ZIMNIAK. (to cura di), L'Educazione Salesiana from 1880 to 1922, Istanze ed attuazioni in diversi contesti. Vol. II. Atti of the 4th Convegno di storia dell'opera salesiana (Mexico City 12-18 febbraio 2006). Associazione cultori storia salesiana-studi 2. Rome, LAS 2007,216

[87] "The Uribe Act of 1903 ordered that in each department a normal school for boys be opened and another for women, schools would have an attached school for exercises in teaching methods." Javier SÁENZ OBREGÓN, Oscar- SALDARRIAGA-Armando OSPINA, Looking at childhood: pedagogy, morals and modernity in Colombia, 1903-1946 ", Medellín, Universidad de Antioquia 1997, pp. 140-141.

[88] Its mission, says the chronicle, will be to take care of the Salesians' clothes, dedicate themselves to the education of the girls and devote themselves to the assistance of the poor lepers. Vilma PARRA, Memories Inspector San Pedro Claver 1897-1946 HMA Colombia . Colombia, Cargraphics SA 1998. p 13

[89] The Catholic-conservative political intolerance prevailed until generating the most devastating civil war that the country experienced, the so-called civil war of the Thousand Days "Oscar SALDARRIAGA Of the office of Master, practices and theories of modern pedagogy in Colombia. Bogotá, Editorial Magisterio 2003, p. 229  

[90] They arrived at the house located in front of the dressing room of Carmen, which Father Rabagliatti had taken as a lease for them. It comprised eight very small rooms and one larger one; two patios, one of 3 square meters and the other wider. Vilma PARRA, Memoirs Inspector ..., p.12

[91] "In February 1900, during the civil war, the first teaching center began with twenty girls from outside, daughters of benefactors and relatives of the Sisters (...). The community was fully aware of its teaching mission and willingly sacrificed to welcome the girls, who gave the Salesian rhythm to the modest house. In 1901 the children's group reaches thirty, and in the same year amounted to forty "but," the joy of the boarding house ends soon, because in the month of May they raise to 1.00.00 pesos to the lease, for the community It is impossible to accept such a condition. The requests were many, because it was known that the daughters of Don Bosco were educators, but it was not possible to accept more girls because of the narrowness of the premises ". Ibid ., P. 92

[92] A contract was stipulated between the Ministry (then called Public Instruction and the community for four years.) The clauses of the contract are not known, therefore it is not known if the scholarships compensated the rent of the premises or the work of the Sisters, Ibid ., P.94

[93] You now belong to a religious family that is all of the Virgin (...) Consider your beautiful title of Daughters of Mary Help of Christians as a great glory and think often that your Institute should be the living monument of Don Bosco to the exalted Mother of God. Giselda CAPETTI, The Path of the Institute over a century. Volume I. Barcelona, ​​EGS Rosario 1971, p 25

[94] Giselda CAPETTI,  Chronohistory Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Volume I . Barcelona, ​​Editions Don Bosco 1974, p. 22

[95] Ibid.., 83

[96] Don Javier Tobar and Don Enrique Alvarez, managed to get the Ministry of Education to entrust the La Merced College to the FMA. Vilma PARRA, Memoirs Inspector ..., p.94

[97] In 1904 The community took the decision to give the Mary Help of Christians School the direction of Normal School, it is explainable that the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians imbued with the spirit of the Normal School Our Lady of Grace by Nizza Monferrato, were fully aware of that the mission is totally oriented, not only to the feminine instruction, but to the preparation of Christian teachers.

[98] 1905 Soacha.La foundation was made by the repeated requests made by the pastor of the place for the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians to take charge of the school and two public schools. At the moment the old School works like Private Superior School of Private character.

1911 founding of Guadalupe as asylum, college (...) in 1960 started as a private Normal School and in 1963 it became official.

1912 foundation of La Ceja, preparatory courses and normalist. In 1956 the approval of the Superior Normal School courses is given.

1915 Foundation of Santa Rosa. In 1921, he offered the first degrees of normalista.

1915 Foundation of the María Auxiliadora School in Medellín. In 1919 the curriculum for the training of teachers specialized in kindergartens will be created. Open chair of child pedagogy, Institution of Female Normal.

1926 Cáqueza Foundation. In 1948 approval of normal studies. She was already offering a title for rural teachers. 1948, the Metropolitan Curia, authorizes the issuance of a catechist teacher diploma.

1937 foundation of Santa Barbara. Start as a children's home, offers complementary classes for students of Media instruction and higher courses I and II of normal.

1949 Normal de Fátima in Sabanagrande Atlántico. Ibid ., Pp.110,225,238,631

[99] Sr. Honorina Lanfranco entered the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in 1894. She was 22 years old and had completed her studies and obtained the laurea in pedagogy, standing out for her high cultural level (...) Mother Catalina Daghero sent her to Colombia. He arrived in Bogotá where he was immediately entrusted with the direction of the La Merced school. Cecilia ROMERO, Sr. Honorina Lanfranco ..., II, p. 208

[100] Undoubtedly to the wise and diligent management of Sr. Honorina, (...) the solidity that marked the normalist studies from the beginning and consequently the obtaining of the government, the authorization to grant the elementary or superior teacher diploma to the students who fulfilled the requirements demanded by the MIP. Ibid ., P 219

[101] The Regeneration (1886-1903), a period of anti-liberal reaction government, which suppresses the attempt of secularization that radical liberals had set for education through the Organic Decree of Public Instruction of 1870. A new Political Constitution is established (1886), a Concordat was formalized with the Church (1887) and a national education system called Public Instruction was established. Oscar SALDARRIAGA Of the office of Master, practices and theories of modern pedagogy in Colombia. Bogotá, Editorial Magisterio 2003, p. 93

[102] "The normals were attached to the secondary section, through Law 89 of 1892, and for the first time the provisions of these years draw up a precise study plan and its corresponding programs, and it was assigned in each of the years of study three hours of theoretical pedagogy and three hours of practical pedagogy. Martha Cecilia HERRERA -, Carlos LOW, History of the normal schools in Colombia , in: "Magazine Education and culture" 20 (1990) 43

[103] Ibid.,41-48

[104] Second German Mission: "The government hired in 1924 the Second German Pedagogical Mission, with the purpose of elaborating a global project of educational reform, which was presented to the House of Representatives in 1926 without it being obtained. However, its recommendations will be applied gradually in the process of reform implemented in the following decades. for the Pedagogical Mission, it was clear that without teacher training institutions it was very difficult for an educational reform of a general nature to triumph ". El Espectador , (Bogotá). 1925 publications of 4,8; nov; 18,19,20 and 26

[105] The War of the Schools, known by this name, because it was raised by the conservative party of Miguel Antonio Caro against the project of secular public schools promoted by the radical liberals, supporting the First German Pedagogical Mission that brought the Pestalozzian method. Oscar SALDARRIAGA Of the office of Master ..., p. 95

[106] Francisco de Paula Santander, authorized in 1821 the establishment of the first schools in the main cities of Colombia and with them the normalist education. These were still of an embryonic nature and initially were not differentiated from the first letters schools because in these the teacher was trained simultaneously with the children in the knowledge that later would be imparted. In this way, the teacher lacked specific training that would provide him with a reflection on his profession and a level of preparation of a certain quality in terms of the content of the knowledge that he had to impart. Martha Cecilia HERRERA, History of the schools ... , 41-42

[107] The system was presented as a "perfect school machine" that allowed a single teacher to teach a thousand children at a time, the rudiments of morality, writing and calculation ". Oscar SALDARRIAGA Of the office of Master ..., p. 150

[108] Olga Lucia ZULUAGA, The normal schools in Colombia during the reforms of Francisco de Paula Santander and Mariano Ospina Rodriguez , in: "Education and Pedagogy Magazine" .12 and 13 (1996) 263-278.

[109] Who prepared to be a teacher, in the schools of mutual education that received the name of normal school, was limited to the dissemination of the method of teaching monreal of Joseph Lancaster. This is how the future teacher carried out the same studies that the child was studying in the primary section and thus learned the Lancasterian method. The teacher lacks, therefore, a specific training that will provide him with a reflection on his craft and a level of preparation of a certain quality in terms of the contents of the knowledge he should impart. Ibid ., 272

[110] Zerda Plan (1893), regulates the Primary School Manual and determines five years of post-primary education for normal schools as a requirement to obtain a master's degree. It is maintained until 1933. Martha Cecilia HERRERA, History of the schools ... , 43

[111] Law 39 of 1903 and its decree 491 of 1904, establish the obligatory nature of the teacher's diploma obtained in the normal school, as a condition to practice teaching in the primary school. Ibid ., 44

[112] Manual "Elements of Pedagogy", by brothers Luis and Martín Restrepo, called by some authors "La Summa pedagogica". Elements of Pedagogy is  a scholar compendium that appropriated, combining and selecting, the best contributions of the Pestalozzian tradition, both North American and French, but also took up elements of other pedagogical traditions, both national - English, German and Spanish - and religious - Protestant, Catholic and secular. (...) Restrepo, like a good part of the Colombian teachers at the end of the 19th century, had made contact with a series of North American manuals and of the Pestalozzian Protestant tradition, which had been translated for Latin America by the Appleton publishing house in New York, and distributed from Bogotá, distributed by the very Catholic Librería Americana of Miguel Antonio Caro. They were texts where teachers were taught, assembly techniques, organization and direction of schools, the methods of "Objective teaching" and the "Principles of instruction". Oscar SALDARRIAGAOf the office of Master ..., p. 268

[113] Ibid ., P.105

[114] In the normal school, pedagogical knowledge finds a new central reference: social knowledge: sociology, anthropology, active pedagogy with a social focus. The teacher went from subject of pedagogy to a subject of a set of knowledge called education sciences. Javier SÁENZ OBREGÓN, Looking at childhood ..., p.135-136

[115] Those who landed in Colombia were: Mother Brigida Prandi, as Director and Visitatrix. Sr. Serafina Ossella, Sr. Josefina Festa, Sr. Angela Tarroni, Sr. Modesta Ravasso, Sr. Rosario Morillo and Sr. Herminia Pagnini novice. Vilma PARRA, Memoirs Inspector ..., p.11

[116] The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians arrived on December 31, 1896 in the N ° 30 expedition of the Salesians and N ° 18 of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Ibid ., P.11

[117] In September 1888, the house of Nizza Monferrato opened, in the former convent of the Virgen de las Gracias, it had to start everything from the beginning (...) the kindergarten and the elementary schools were organized first. The complementary ones were added and they were crowned later with the Normal School. It was the goal to which it was aimed, considering it as a great means to do good. Form good Christian teachers to send them as leaven in the world. Lina DALCERRI, A fruitful graft of Don Bosco's pedagogy in the educational action of Mother Emilia Mosca. Barcelona, ​​Editions Don Bosco 1977, p 42

[118] One of the greatest requests of Mother Octavia was the formation of the Sisters. The proximity to the Normal, favored his project. Vilma PARRA, Memoirs Inspector ..., p 105

[119] Piera RUFFINATTO, Childhood Education in the Institute of the Daughters of María Ausiliatrice between 1885 and 1922 , in: Jesús Graciliano GONZÁLEZ- Grazia LOPARCO- Francesco MOTTO-Stanislaw ZIMNIAK. (edited by), Salesian Education of 1880 to 1922, Instances and implementation in different contexts. Vol. I. Proceedings of the 4th Meeting on the history of Salesian work (Ciudad de México12-18 February 2006). Association of scholars of Salesian history-studies 1. Rome, LAS 2007.156-157

[120] Sr. Honorina, the first years of her profession she was in charge of the elementary courses at the Nizza College (1889). Sisters attend their classes to learn from her. Cecilia ROMERO, Sr. Honorina Lanfranco ..., II, p 208

[121] With the official recognition of the Normal Our Lady of the graces of Nizza Monferrato, the basic organization of the schools of the Institute was achieved, on which they could already model and gain momentum towards a future. Lina DALCERRI, a fertile graft ..., p 46

[122] Vilma PARRA, Memorias Inspectoria ..., p 314

[123] Cecilia ROMERO, Sr. Honorina Lanfranco ..., II, p 229-230

[124] The life that Novices and Sisters lead is one thing. The resonance of education is felt very strongly in the novitiate and for the sisters who work in education. The life of the postulants and novices feels very close, because they are their students who have just graduated and who are already starting to take pedagogical apostolic work with them. Vilma PARRA, Memoirs Inspector ..., p 106.

[125] Mother Emilia Mosca resolutely puts her hands to work (...) she needs qualified staff, so she does not hesitate to send sisters to the university and the teacher training schools. Lina DALCERRI, A fruitful graft of pedagogy ..., p 44

[126] "This school -Normal of Our Lady of the Graces" by Nizza Monferrato-, also having as its objective the preparation of the missionaries, expanded the aims of the training to the coarser functions of assistance and social promotion of the peoples not yet civilized " Ibid ., p 160

[127] During the government of Mother Catalina Daghero, in 1888, "The construction of a school building that meets the needs of a quality school (...) is planned. In 1900, Mother Emilia Mosca receives the decree of approval of studies of the Normal School of Nizza. Ibid ., P 44-46

[128] The program regulation for children's asylums was prepared by the FMA teachers themselves and by Mother Emilia Mosca, general scholastic Councilor of the Institute and later revised for final editing by Fr Francesco Cerutti, scholastic counselor for the Salesian Congregation. Piera RUFFINATTO, L'Educazione dell'infanzia ..., Vol I, p 148

[129] Honorina LANFRANCO María Auxiliadora School, end of school, in the Departmental Magazine of Public Instruction Medellín 5 (1918) p.260

[130] Honorina LANFRANCO María Auxiliadora School, Education System, in the Departmental Magazine of Public Instruction Medellín 5 (1918) p.260

[131] Ibid ., P. 269

[132] Ibid ., P. 269

[133]The success obtained in the children's sections of the Maria Auxiliadora School induced the Director of Public Instruction, Dr. Juan B. Londoño, to ask Sr. Honorina for her cooperation in the different areas: to be in charge of directing the infantile schools of Medellín; inscribe instructions and programs for kindergartens and kindergarten, to publish and disseminate them in the Departmental Journal of Public Instruction, in order to unify the teaching and give teachers guidance for good organization, instruction in the department, Beginning with kindergartens, based on the educational system of Don Bosco, he needed the authorization of the sister director of the Mary Help School (Sr. Honorina), to deal with the matter in the Departmental Assembly. Cecilia ROMERO,Sr. Honorina Lanfranco ..., II, p. 222

[134]The children's education programs, written by Sister Honorina Lanfranco, before its publication and dissemination, required ecclesiastical approval. That is why Sr. Honorina, through the insinuation of Father César M. Cesari, and through him, presented the "Instructions and programs of the Kindergartens" to Bishop Manuel José Caycedo, Archbishop of Medellín, to obtain his approval. The Lord Archbishop gave the text to the ecclesiastical censor to review it. Read carefully, the censor drew up a report in which he pointed out several censures, especially in terms of moral and religious education. Known the report mentioned by Mr. Arzobispo, responded to the father Cesari expressing him in energetic form with respect to the author of the text. Among other sections of the letter is the following:Ibid ., P. 222-223

[135]  Lansdowne House, Archives: Claremont House Chronicle, p.1.

[136]  EG Malherbe: Education in SouthAfrica vol. 2 1977(Juts and Co, Cape Town). P. 163

[137]   Idem pg 164.

[138]   Idem pg 164.

[139]  Dr John Leonard Vicar Apostolic Western Cape (1872-1908)

[140]  Archives of the Salesian Institute, Cape Town. School Inspections.

[141] Lansdowne House, Archives: Claremont House Chronicle, p.1.

[142] EG Malherbe: Education in SouthAfrica vol. 2 1977(Juts and Co, Cape Town). P. 163

[143] Idem pg 164.

[144] Idem pg 164.

[145] Dr John Leonard Vicar Apostolic Western Cape (1872-1908)

[146] Archives of the Salesian Institute, Cape Town. School Inspections