VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 7, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the description of the World Confederation of the Past Pupils of Mary Help of Christians which appears in the Directory of International Associations of the Faithful, published by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
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Official name: World Confederation of the Past Pupils of Mary Help of Christians
Also known as: Past Pupils of the FMA (Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice)
History: Early in the 20th century, a group of former Oratorian pupils from Turin, under the guidance of Father Filippo Rinaldi and Sister Caterina Arrighi, organized themselves into an association in order to share and disseminate in their own environments the values received from their education in the schools of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA).
It was Father Rinaldi himself who gave the inspiration for establishing an international confederation which would be able to hand on from generation to generation the educational legacy of Don Bosco and Mother Maria Domenica Mazzarello, who was canonized in 1951.
Those women showed incredible enterprise in inventing forms of tangible solidarity and education to get through to young people, children, mothers, women workers, teachers and rural people.
They set up evening schools for housewives and for Italian migrant women, free vocational schools for the working classes, mutual aid/friendly societies, and a savings bank, a secretariat for providing information, traveling libraries, and drama groups.
In 1911, the first general conference was convened in Turin after which the association began to grow in numbers and in quality.
In 1921 the first issue of Unione was published, as the information bulletin which to this day establishes a link between the former pupils, men and women, of the Salesians.
In 1988, for the centenary of the death of Don Bosco, the rector major of the Salesians gave official recognition to the World Confederation of the Past Pupils of Mary Help of Christians as a group within the Salesian Family.
Identity: The confederation is for men and women who received their education in the schools of the FMA, regardless of their religious, cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds.
Its purpose is the sharing, deeper understanding of and witness to the human and religious values into which the former FMA pupils were educated according to the “preventive system,” which sums up the whole educational experience of Don Bosco.
It also fosters the comprehensive Christian preparation of Catholic ex-pupils in the light of the Gospel, by using both the spiritual aids available to all the baptized, and those specific to Salesian education, encouraging them to be committed and to bear witness to the faith and to participate in the Church’s mission.
The association also endeavors to ensure that non-Christian ex-pupils can draw on elements of their Salesian education to become more appreciative of the human and religious values of their own cultures.
The FMA past pupils undertake to nurture solid ties among themselves in the ideal of using their own lives to offer others the authentic values which make men and women worthy of that name; to cooperate with civic institutions and voluntary associations by mobilizing actions of solidarity to meet the emerging needs in the world; to foster a new self awareness among women and a culture which sees being a woman as a resource and not a problem; to launch, encourage and support initiatives to assist young people in difficulties; and to use the mass media as instruments for communicating values.
Organization: The basic group is the union; all the unions make up the federation; all the federations make up the World Confederation.
At every level, the governance bodies are the Assembly, a Council, and an Executive Board made up of lay people.
At the central level is the Collegio dei Probiviri and a board of auditors. The FMA Institute, through the Consulta, has the task of providing Christian instruction and spiritual direction. The Consulta may attend all the meetings of the council and the board and intervene in every stage of the life of the association.
Membership: The confederation has a membership of more than 40,000 in Italy alone, and millions worldwide, including non-Christians, and is present in 49 countries, in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America.
Works: The confederation does not directly manage any works of its own. But the FMA past pupils are engaged in charitable, human development, literacy, catechetical work and running youth centers by cooperating in the Salesian lay style in implementing the apostolic project of the FMA Institute.
Publications: Unione, a monthly magazine in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese
Web site: www.exallievefma.org
Confederazione Mondiale Exallieve ed Exallievi di Maria Ausiliatrice
Via Gregorio VII, 133/B, int. 4
00165 Roma – Italy
Telephone (39) 06-635-692 — Fax 06-3937-5131
© Copyright 2006 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]