The Shillong Province was blessed with the presence of Sr. Maria Nieves Reboso, General Councillor for Formation and the Sisters of the Team; Sr. Maria Fisichella and Sr. Anelfreda Miranda from 8 to 18 April 2019. The purpose of the visit was the transmission of the Guidelines for the Formation Period of Temporary Vows; a result of the work done by the Formation Sector, the International Commission, the Formators and particularly the Temporary Professed Sisters from all over the world.
On their arrival in Shillong Sr. Maria Nieves Reboso, General Councillor for Formation, Sr. Maria Fisichella and Sr. Anelfreda Miranda of the Formation Team were accorded a warm welcome with a traditional attire called Risha a small shawl of the state of Tripura, a necklace called paila of the state of Meghalaya and a bouquet of flowers. Further the Novices presented a fusion dance of different tribes and a welcome song.
The animation programme was organized for different groups centered on the theme “Do whatever He tells you” with an iconic representation of the wedding feast at Cana. The first group was for the Community Animators and Formators from 9 - 12 April 2019 at FMA Outreach, Shillong numbering thirty-five in all. During the encounter the Sisters were presented the entire guidelines with ten sessions of group work. The Sisters appreciated the great love and care the Institute takes in the formation of its members. The community animators resolved to own up responsibility in making the document known to the other members of the community and to live up to the principles envisaged by it in the living out of the Salesian charism.
The thirty-eight Aspirants and Postulants too had a share of the input sessions and group work from the Formation team on 13 April 2019 at Auxilium Training Centre, Saiden. The young candidates took interest in whatever was offered to them and expressed that they were proud to belong to the FMA family.
The following days namely 14 -15 April saw a gathering of 68 (sixty-eight) Temporary Professed Sisters for a two-day animation programme at FMA Outreach, Shillong. The young Sisters were very enthusiastic and felt loved by the Institute for such a wonderful and meticulous book of guidelines offered specifically for the period of Formation of the Temporary Vows. In all the sessions and group sharing the young Sisters were open and frank in their intervention. They took upon themselves to live up to the expectation of the Institute and give of their best in the various communities they are called to serve.
On 16 April a day of animation programme was organized for the 41 (forty-one) Novices at the Immaculate Heart Novitiate, Bellefonte – Shillong. The Novices were thrilled to have such a unique opportunity in interacting directly with the General Councillor for Formation and the team. While being challenged by the lifestyle of the modern world they expressed confidence that with the guidance of the Superiors and their personal commitment to auto-formation they would be able to mould themselves and be for the young, helpers like Mary, the Help of Christians.
Sr. Nieves and team were fortunate to visit the other communities of Shillong namely the Provincial House – Auxilium Nongthymmai and Sacred Heart Convent, Mawlai on 17 April. Here too Sr. Nieves met the Sisters in groups and inspired in them to live their commitment to the full. She particularly pointed out that the Sisters both young and old need each other to complement one another in the fulfillment of the mission of the community. The young people too in both the houses were equally excited and filled with enthusiasm to behold a representative of Mother General. Apart from this, the Formation Team visited the FMA Cemetery at the Catholic Cemetery of the Cathedral Parish and prayed for the departed Sisters of the Province. They also made a short visit to the Salesian Provincial House at Mawlai, Fr. Joseph Puthenpurakal who welcomed them to the house termed the visit as “Sisters meeting their Brothers in the spirit of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello”.
In the evening of 17 April the nearby communities of Shillong gathered at Bellefonte – Shillong for a thanksgiving ceremony which included prayer moments and gestured of gratitude through various items like dances, songs and speeches. The last day of the visit the 18 April was spent in meeting the Sisters of Bellefonte Community, the Mistress of Novices along with the two Assistants and preparations for the departure.
The ten-day visit of Sr. Nieves and Team to the Province surely brought blessings and revival of the Salesian spirit which all the Sisters and Candidates hope to live by and be committed Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. It was truly a wedding feast experience with a unique quality and sentiments. The wedding feast is not ended but it had just started and would be lived in every community of the Province.