The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA) is a community of Religious Sisters dedicated to the ministry of youth of all ages and their families. The first FMA was Mary Domenica Mazzarello, a remarkable woman who was born in 1837 in a small village in Northern Italy (Click here for a biography of St. Mary Mazzarello.) Main, as her friends called her, worked as a young girl on the family farm and grew to be a strong and determined young woman.
In 19th Century Italy, the education of youth was done in gender groups, with women taking care of girls and men taking care of boys. Don Bosco was looking for a way to minister to girls when he became aware of the work of Mary Mazzarello who had already formed a small group of young women who were caring for the girls in their village. Mary was filled with a vision for the future where she saw herself and her "sisters" spending their lives and energy for the education of girls. She clearly understood that the Blessed Mother was guiding her when she heard a voice one day say, “I entrust them to you.” Her parish priest, Fr. Pestarino, introduced her to Don Bosco and a long collaboration between the two Saints began. Don Bosco invited Mary Mazzarello and some of the other young women she had been working with to form a religious community, which Don Bosco called the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. The community is popularly referred to today as the Salesian Sisters.
The Sisters follow a spirit inspired by St. Mary Mazzarello and St. John Bosco. St. Mary Mazzarello encouraged her Sisters to always "be aware of the presence Mary, the mother of Jesus, in our lives and entrust ourselves entirely to her, striving to make her dispositions of faith, hope and charity, and her perfect union with Christ, our own. Let us open our hearts to the joyous humility of her "Magnificat" to be helpers, like her, especially among young girls." St. Mary Mazzarello died in 1881 at the age of 44. Her life was short, but with an untiring zeal for service, she gave impetus to a movement that launched the Salesian Sisters into the 20th Century and beyond.
Today, the Salesian Sisters are one of the largest communities of women Religious in the Church with 13,000 Sisters in over 90 countries. In the United States, they are involved in elementary, junior high and high school education, religious education, youth ministry and parish ministry.
For more information or to get in contact with a Salesian Sister please visit:
- www.salesiansisterswest.org (Salesian Sisters of the Western Province)
- www.salesiansisters.org (Salesian Sisters of the Eastern Province)