The biography of Mary Domenica Mazzarello is brief (44 years). It could be divided into four stages, each characterized by a precise area of maturation in her Christian and consecrated life.
The first stage refers to the first thirteen years, from her birth in Mornese, in Upper Monferrato (1837) to her First Communion (1850). These were years lived in the family, characterized by a solid Christian life and by tireless work as peasants. Intelligent, strong-willed and gifted with a rich affectivity, Mary Domenica undertook her journey of maturing her faith accompanied by her parents and by her wise spiritual director Fr. Domenico Pestarino.
The second stage (1850-1860) is characterized by a marked internalisation of the faith, a fruit of her First Communion. This would lead her to consecrate her youth to God with the vow of virginity and with her zealous participation in the life of the parish, especially through her membership in the group of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate. At 23 she was stricken ill with a severe case of typhoid, an event that would profoundly change her life. She leaves behind her work in the farm, not only because of the loss of her physical strength but because a clear educational intuition begins to mature in her. Thus, she dedicates herself to the education of young girls of the village through a sewing workroom, a festive oratory and a home for orphaned girls.
In the third stage (1860-1872) we see her as a woman more open to God plan in her life. The encounter with Saint John Bosco (1864) is God response to the deepest apostolic desires in her heart. On August 5, 1872 a new religious family dedicated to the good of the young is born. Don Bosco is the Founder and Mary Domenica Mazzarello is the Co-Foundress of this institute.
The The fourth and last stage, of her life (1872-1881) is characterized by Mary Domenica Mazzarello spiritual motherhood through the formation of the Sisters, her numerous travels to visit the new foundations, the growth and missionary expansion of the Institute, her written words, the daily offering of herself in atient and compassionate charity.
She died in Nizza Monferrato on May 14, 1881. She left her daughters with a solid educational tradition; God has granted her the gift of discernment and made her a simple and wise woman. Her feast is celebrated on May 13.
Mother Caterina Daghero (1881-1924)母佑第二任總會長
Madre Daghero 於1856年5月7日生於意大利杜林市的Cumiana，1924年2月26日死於尼渣Nizza Monferrato。自1881年至1924年，共43年之久，繼聖瑪利亞瑪沙利羅擔任修會總會長之職，管理修會﹕期間經歷俗化主義(secolarizzazione)及工業革命的開始。此時，女性世界興起了重要的變化，女性在推動工業化方面提供了寶貴資源，也催生了女性爭取公民與法律權利的運動。
Mother Caterina Daghero was born in Cumiana (Turin) on May 7, 1856 and died at Nizza Monferrato (Asti - Italy) on February 26 1924, after 43 years as the Superior General, or congregational leader, of the Institute. She governed the Institute from 1881 to 1924 during a time marked by secularisation and industrialisation. Important changes were affecting the world of women which provided a precious workforce in the process of industrialisation and gave rise to the struggle for civil and legal rights for women.
The Church in this period showed the vitality of its faith both through its spiritual renewal and in the amazing thrust of its social and missionary activity. It was the time of the great development of 'Social Catholicism' and the effort of renewal within the Catholic sphere itself following the assessment of the modernist crisis.
Thus the Church achieved a renewed Christian presence in a society that was violently shaken by World War I. The Institute experienced great progress in organisation, determined by an increase in the number of members on the one hand and by a remarkable growth in the foundations from Europe to America and from Asia to Africa on the other. The concern for the religious and cultural formation of the Sisters was deeply felt as was an awareness of the spiritual tradition to be preserved and handed on.
Openness to the new demands of society, the Church and the young led to new forms of apostolate such as hostels for factory girls, orphanages and other social works for children who had lived through the war, and schools of every type to prepare the young for the new historical and cultural period that was evolving.
Under Mother Daghero the Institute celebrated eight General Chapters and undertook the gradual erection of provinces with their own houses of formation.
As part of its consolidation the Institute passed in 1907 from being 'aggregated' to the Salesian Society to juridical autonomy. On September 7, 1911 the Institute received pontifical approval with the relative 'Decretum Laudis'. In the same year the diocesan process for the cause of beatification of Mother Mazzarello, the co-foundress of the Institute, was opened.
From 1882 to 1923 Mother Caterina Daghero visited the Institute in Italy, France, Belgium, England, Spain, Palestine, Africa and America where she stayed for two years, faithful to her principle: 'We need to see with our own eyes, touch with our own hands'.
Mother Luisa Vaschetti (1924-1943) 母佑會第三任總會長
Madre Luisa Vaschetti於1924年繼Madre Caterina Daghero，接任總會長之職。
Madre Luisa Vaschetti 於1858年7月9日，生於意大利杜林的Aglié，1943年6月28日死於尼渣(Nizza Monferrato)。
Madre Luisa Vaschetti是一位有深度及堅強剛毅的母佑會修女，面對關乎修會存亡的問題，她果敢地回應了修女的培育及聖召增長的需求。雖處於政治及社會極艱鉅的時刻，她仍不斷派遣傳教士，並視之為基本的傳教任務。
Mother Luisa Vaschetti succeeded Mother Caterina Daghero as Superior General of the Institute in 1924. She was born at Agli(Turin) on July 9 1858 and died at Nizza Monferrato on June 21, 1943. She made hr first profession in Buenos Aires (Argentina) where she had arrived as a missionary in 1883. From 1903 till 1924 she was a Councillor and personal secretary to Mother Daghero.
The period of her service as Superior General abounds in events that altered the previous order of things and which required new pastoral commitments of the Church. She came into office a few years after World War I and died during WWII, two wars that upset the balance of the nations.
Central houses for the formation of the missionaries were opened in Italy, with the aspirantate at Arignano, the house for the newly professed in Turin (1924) and the noviciate of Casanova (Carmagnola) in 1928. It was during this time that religious persecution broke out in Mexico (1926) resulting in the closure and occupation of the houses there. In 1929 the generalate house was transferred from Nizza to Turin in order to be closer to the centre of the Salesian Congregation at a particularly significant time when Don Bosco was beatified and canonised. The Institute lived through the Communist revolution in Spain (1931-1936) with its savage religious persecution and the prolonged civil war. There was war, too, in China and then WWII with all its devastation, evacuations and victims. On the brighter side Mother Mazzarello's beatification was celebrated on November 20, 1938.
Mother Luisa Vaschetti was described as 'deeply and tenaciously Salesian'; she faced up decisively to the problem she considered of vital importance, namely, the formation of the Sisters and the increase in vocations. Furthermore she maintained that the missionary aspect was fundamental and so the missionary expeditions continued unabated despite the difficult socio-political situation.
Madre Ermelinda Lucotti 管治期間正值第二次世界大戰(1939年至1945年)，修會的內聚力及逐步重建各項宗徒事業的能力受到嚴峻的考驗。這時期修會痛失了許多修女及青年，眾多的會院及教育園地都消失在戰火之中，尤其是東歐和中國，宗徒事業被摧毀，團體失散，修女被帶進集中營或囚禁在監獄裏。另一方面，大戰後各會區持續發展，修會亦繼續向外發展。1954年修會到達澳洲，同時開始在亞洲的菲律賓、韓國及非洲的莫三鼻給等國家及地區服務。
Madre Ermelinda 計劃前往那些多年未有長上探訪過的會院。她幾乎走遍整個意大利、歐洲及美洲。她任內在教育及培育方面重大的創舉如下﹕出版《春天》(Primavera) 雜誌(1949年至1950年)，《與我靈》(Da mihi animas)期刋(1952年)，1955年進行收集羅蘭衛冠納(Laura Vicuňa)列品資料。同年實現了李嘉堂神父(Don Ricaldone)理想，提升教師們的要理教授、教育學及社會學科的水平而創辦聖心國際學院。為能保持修會的神恩，她認為最重要的是吸收會祖們的精神，特別是年青的修女，而因應時代的要求，修女們要有更深入及持續的培育，因此選出優秀人才加以栽培。
Mother Ermelinda Lucotti was born at Mede Lomellina (Pavia, Italy) on October 30, 1879 and died in Turin on November 27, 1957. In 1938, owing to the deteriorating health of the Superior General, Mother Vaschetti, Mother Linda was appointed Vicar General by a rescript of the Sacred Congregation for Religious dated October 11, 1938. On the death of Mother Vaschetti, she took over the government of the Institute, a role in which she was confirmed by the General Chapters of 1947 and 1953.
Mother Linda's period of government was marked by WWII (1939-1945) which tested the unity of the Institute and its capacity to engage in slow the work of reconstruction. There were numerous victims among both Sisters and young people.
Many communities and educational works disappeared, especially in eastern Europe and mainland China.
Works were destroyed, Sisters imprisoned or deported to concentration camps.
Nevertheless, in the immediate post-war period, the internal development of the provinces continued and in 1954 the Institute opened its first house in Australia, besides other countries of east Asia (Philippines, Korea) and Africa (Mozambique).
Mother Linda's programme involved visiting those communities that had not received the visit of a superior for several years. She traversed most of Italy, Europe and America. Important educational or formative undertakings were initiated during her term of office: the magazine Primavera (1949-50), the journal Da mihi animas (1952); the informative process of the cause of beatification of Laura Vicu (1955). In the same year the work conceived by Fr. Ricaldone took shape: the foundation of the Sacred Heart International Institute for the pedagogical-catechetical-sociological qualification of the teaching Sisters.
In order to continue the consolidation of the Institute, she judged it essential, especially for the young Sisters, to assimilate the spirit of the Founders. To meet the needs of the Sisters for deeper and longer formation in the changing times, she sent them on for high studies and ensured that the best of time and energy was put into the formation programmes. She took part in the canonisation of Mother Mazzarello on June 24, 1951 and in the inauguration of the re-acquired College at Mornese, the cradle of the Institute, as a boarding school for a hundred or so orphan girls.
The framework surrounding Mother Angela Vespa's time in office was the preparation and celebration of Vatican II. This intense ecclesial experience and the pastoral turning point brought on by changing social conditions had a profound impact on the life of the Institute.
A new era was dawning across the social, cultural, political and religious landscape but it was impossible to foresee with any certainty the consequences of the altered situations.
The criteria of renewal on which the Church based its self-awareness and the type of rapport to be established with the world at large were outlined in masterly fashion by Paul VI in the encyclical letter Ecclesiam suam .
The Council, moreover, required all religious Institutes to review their approach to consecrated life, their presence in society and their educational-pastoral mission within it, and to improve the biblical, liturgical and pastoral preparation of the Sisters. In a special way the conciliar document Perfectae caritatis committed religious congregations to a clear and genuine renewal based on fidelity to the Gospel and to the charism of the Founders so that they could once again be open to the signs of the times.
Together with a special General Chapter, an urgent revision of the Constitutions according to the lines laid out by the Church was called for.
In these years Mother Angela guided the Institute from the Centre with the wisdom of her directives and through various gatherings and international congresses, notably the international catechetical congress of 1963. She directed the Institute to enhance the professional dimension both of the Sisters and the girls in an era characterised by specialisation and a new large scale presence of women in the world of work. In 1964-65 within the international catechetical centre a section for mass media was created with the aim of preparing FMA specialised in this field.
Mother Ersilia Canta's period in office was marked by profound and rapid cultural, social and ecclesial transformations. These changes impacted above all on young people. 1968, the year of the student revolution, in fact, had strong repercussions both in time and space.
On the worldwide scene, a new phase of technological and electronic progress and the development of the media were underway. At the same time the gap between rich and poor countries was widening. An awareness of woman's role in society was growing.
The church in this post-conciliarera was living through crises and renewal. Contestation, a key word in this phase of history, tried to penetrate the church itself, causing tensions between those who wished to preserve everything as it was and those who saw the Church in more progressive terms.
Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II did a huge amount of intense work in striving to put the Council into practice. After a first period of vocational crisis felt also within the Salesian Congregation and other religious Institutes, in the Institute there was a significant rediscovery of the charism, of the spirit of the origins and the Institute's own identity in the Church. The renewal of the Constitutions continued and the Plan of Formation for FMA and the Project for a new pastoral approach in youth centres were drawn up (1975). The reality of the Salesian Family became clearer, encouraging the real and fraternal collaboration among the various groups belonging to it. Several important centenaries for the Institute were also celebrated: its foundation (1972); the first missionary expedition (1977); the first printed Constitutions (1978); the death of the Co-foundress (1981). Following the centenary of the Salesian missions (1975) the whole Institute, like the Salesian Society, put in motion the 'African Commitment'.
Mother Ersilia Canta was the first Superior General to personally visit the entire Institute. She managed to combine a balanced openness to the changing times and the various cultures with a sound faithfulness to the charism, to the Holy Spirit and to sound traditions.
Madre Rosetta Marchese (1981-1984) 母佑會第七任總會長
在協創會祖瑪沙利羅修母逝世百週年紀念中，Madre Rosetta與瑪沙利羅修母之間起了一個清晰的共鳴，就是要求修女們要不斷更新，勉力成聖，忠於修會神恩。在她的通訊中這樣寫道: 追溯自Madre Ersilia至Madre Angela, Madre Ermelinda, Madre Vaschetti, Madre Daghero 在慈幼會聖德光芒的途中與瑪沙利羅相遇。我們與她重新上路，目的地只有一個: 與所有青年一起抵達天堂，我們(修會需要有所奉獻來淨化)是為了青年把我們的存在作出奉獻並耗盡整個生命。
Her period of government coincided with the conclusion of the lengthy revision of the text of the renewed Constitutions and with their definitive approval by the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes (1982).
There followed the period of immediate application of the Constitutions lived with a sense of spirituality and in union with the Church, heightened by the extraordinary event of May 13 1981 when Pope John Paul II was shot in St. Peter's Square. In the same year the centenary of the death of Mother Mazzarello came to an end with the historic audience granted by John Paul II to the members of the Chapter. From May 24 1982 until March 8 1984, the entire Institute was united
in prayer and offering for the health of Mother General who had become seriously ill.
Mother Rosetta's programme of government was the transmission of XVII General Chapter and the practical application of the Constitutions. She had planned a far reaching visit to the provinces but was only able to visit the 'Auxilium' community which had been set up as a community directly dependent on the Superior General in 1982. She was particularly concerned with the formation of the local animators and took great interest in the courses for the newly appointed Provincials and novice directresses.
She continued to animate the missionary expansion of the Institute especially in the Samoan islands and Africa.
Mother Rosetta's marked resonance with Mother Mazzarello, led her to indicate the Co-foundress in the centenary of her death as the focal point for renewing the commitment to holiness within the charism proper to the Institute. She wrote in one circular letter: 'Going back through Mother Ersilia, to Mother Angela, to Mother Vaschetti, to Mother Daghero, along a resplendent path of Salesian holiness, we all meet in Mother Mazzarello and with her we take up once again the journey of holiness. There is but one goal: to reach Heaven with all the young people for whom we have given and consumed our lives'.
Madre Marinella Castagno (1984-1996) 母佑會第八任總會長
Madre Marinella 於1973年被召加入修會總議會，完成了好幾個會區的法定採訪。由1975年到1984年負責修會青年牧民工作，這任務使她認識到修會不同的教育及牧民實況。在第十八屆全代會被選為總會長，第十九屆全代會再獲選連任。此時，全球各地正處於一個瞬息萬變的時代，深遠地影響著個人、家庭及機構。教會及修會更堅決的致力於《福音新傳》事工。Madre Marinella曾參與1985年及1987年兩次主教會議。宗座不同文憲尤其影響修會的生命，特別在實行有關梵二教導層面，在福音新傳上憑信徒的參與和合作，重新發現獻身生活的價值、在教會及在世界上的使命。
Madre Marinella在任期間極富意義的事件計有: 鮑思高神父逝世百週年紀念以及羅蘭衛冠納列真福品(1988)，李納德 (Filippo Rinaldi)神父列真福品(1990)以及莫蘭諾 (Maddalena Morano) 修女列真福品(1994)。Madre Marinella 12年來以總會長的身份領導修會，她明智地、純樸地、富母愛地，以敏銳的觸覺體察時代當前的急務，英明地、有遠見地尋找最合適的、可行的處理途徑。
Mother Marinella Castagno was called to be a member of the general council in 1973. She performed the canonical visits in various provinces. From 1975 until 1984 she was responsible for youth ministry, a role which gave her an insight into the different educational and pastoral situations in the Institute. In XVIII General Chapter she was elected as the Superior General and confirmed in this service by XIX General Chapter.
In a time of rapid and far-reaching changes involving all the nations and touching persons, families and institutions, both the Church and the Institute were committed to a more decisive work of 'new evangelisation'.
The Synods of Bishops in 1985 and 1987, in which she took part, and the various pontifical documents had a particular impact on the life of the Institute. It strove with renewed commitment to put into practice the teachings of the Council, to collaborate with the laity in the new evangelisation and to rediscover consecrated life and its mission within the Church and the world.
Eastern Europe's move to democracy (1989) opened up new and unexpected horizons for the FMA, too, in evangelisation and the education of youth. This allowed many Salesian educators to operate in countries where religious life had hitherto been clandestine and where for many years youth had been deprived of a cultural and Christian formation consistent with the needs of the times.
An enhanced feminine self-awareness among the FMA made them more daring especially regarding the promotion of a culture of life and reciprocity. Alongside an increasing desire for interior life, the commitment to respond to the expectations of the poorest girls and young women was very strong and the efforts at inculturation gave rise to new works on behalf of children at risk.
The necessity of preparing personnel in the field of social communications became obvious at all levels. So, through the department for mass media that was purposely set up, a whole network of formative and practical initiatives came into being to enable the FMA not only to understand the new languages but also to create culture in this area.
Some significant events stood out during these years: the centenary of the death of Don Bosco and the beatification of Laura Vicu鎙(1988); the beatification of Fr. Philip Rinaldi (1990) and of Mother Maddalena Morano (1994). In her twelve years as Superior General, Mother Marinella directed the Institute with wisdom, simplicity and motherliness, with a sharp perception of the pressing needs of the times and an insightful search for the best ways to respond to them, keeping far-sighted perspectives in mind.
Madre Antonia Colombo (1996-2008) 母佑會第九任總會長
Madre Antonia Colombo於1936年4月12日在義大利Lecco出生。1959年發初願，同年在米蘭聖心大學取得法律學位，繼而在比利時魯汶大學取得應用心理學碩士學位。
Madre Antonia Colombo的足跡遍佈五大洲，甚至到達美洲最南端火地島(Tierra del Fuego) 的盡頭。她相信一起承擔責任是建設未來的條件和希望。
Mother Antonia Colombo was born at Lecco (Como) in Italy on April 12, 1935.
She made her first profession in the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in 1959 at Contra di Missaglia (Como). In that year she obtained her degree in law at the Sacred Heart Catholic University in Milan. She later obtained a licentiate in applied psychology at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.
From 1966 until 1989 she was part of the community of the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences 'Auxilium' where she taught and held various posts of religious and academic responsibility.
She was the President of the Faculty from 1983 until 1989 when she was appointed provincial superior of the province of 'Sr. Teresa Valsé Pantellini' in Taranto, Italy.
During the XIX General Chapter in 1990, she was elected a Visiting Councillor and six years later (GC XX-1996), Mother General.
In the following six years, together with her Council, she sought to fulfil the 'prophecy of togetherness' one of the favourite focal points of her animation and government which she experienced also in meetings with the General Council of the Salesians who were likewise convinced of the necessity of a journey of mutual collaboration.
Another fruit of collaborative reflection was the Formation Plan.
In 2001 she took part as an observer in the 10th Ordinary Synod of Bishops where she was able to strengthen her love for the Church.
On October 24 2002, during the XXI General Chapter she was confirmed in office for a further six years.
She has travelled thousands of miles in various continents even reaching the furthest point of Tierra del Fuego.
Mother General believes in a shared commitment and in a future of hope. The one condition is that of building it together.
Mother Yvonne Reungoat has been a member of the General Chapter for 12 years (1996-2008) and since 2002 she has given her service as Vicar General and also as the person directly responsible for the four large international communities in Rome. During this time she was the closest collaborator to the Superior General, Mother Antonia Colombo and she shared with her the government of the Institute and the processes inherent to religious life and to education undertaken by the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians on a worldwide level.
General Chapter XXII (2008) elected her as the new Superior General, the 9th successor to Maria Domenica Mazzarello.
Mother Yvonne was born at Plouenan (Finistère, Francia) on January 14, 1945. Degreed in History and Geography at the State University in Lyon, she taught first in the professional school of that city for 11 years. She was later community animator and province vicar. From 1983-89 she was provincial of the French province of Sacred Heart with headquarters in Paris.
Her broader knowledge of the Institute began in 1990, the year in which she was offered the mandate of delegate of the provinces of Spain and France for West Africa. It was an appointment that allowed her to participate in General Chapter XIX held that year.
Her service of animation had begun during the preceding years as animator and the person responsible for the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of her nation. In 1991 she was elected Superior of the African province of Mother of God, with headquarters at Lomé (Togo) . These were the years during which Mother Yvonne gave preference to relationships with the Sisters, encouraged the communities formed by members of different nationalities to live the Salesian charism together in unity, though diversity. She gave special attention to the young people in formation, knowing how to take on the poverty and suffering of the least, and the collaboration with the Salesian Family for the formation of animators. Her capacity for the enculturation of the African reality was notable, even to the point of assuming its rhythm that appreciated the acceptance of persons and the total giving of all to the other person, to her story, to the time that is necessary to be one's self and to express self.
General Chapter XX (1996) elected her as Visiting Councilor. This was the period during which she got to know the Sisters of six Latin American provinces, four European and one Asiatic, that of Korea.
During the General Chapter of 2002 she was elected Vicar General of the Institute. In addition to following the communities directly dependent on the Superior General, she coordinated the planning and organization of five meetings for new provincials, accompanying the collaboration of the Institute with the Cultural Association for Salesian History and in 2004 she visited the communities of the Madrid province of St. Teresa and in 2005the province of Our Lady of Africa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
GC XXII (the fifth Chapter in which she participated) gave her to mandate of Superior General. After 136 years of Italian Superiors General, from 2008 the newly elected Mother General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians is French. It is an historical turn , one that links us to the origins of the Congregation. The Foundress, Mother Maria Domenica Mazzarello, in fact, had made her first visit beyond the confines of Italy to St. Cyr in France.