PGS, 23 December 2022 -- In 1922 the first Salesians arrived in northeast India after Fr. Paul Albera accepted the invitation of the Holy See to take missionary responsibility of the vast mission. In 1923 the FMA arrived to work with the Salesians. In a concerted and sustained effort to evangelise the various tribal groups of the whole region. In 1936 Bishop Stephen Ferrando SDB was transferred from the diocese of Krishnagar to be the second bishop of Shillong.
The outbreak of World war II hampered the work of evangelisation since most missionaries were sent to internment camps. On 24th October 1942 Bishop Ferrando founded the Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians’ at Guwahati, Assam, northeast India, with a group of enthusiastic local women primarily dedicated to evangelisation, catechetical instruction in villages and rural areas. On March 21, 1977, St. Paul VI recognised it as a congregation of Pontifical right. On July 8, 1986, Fr. Egidio Vigano gave it official recognition as a member of the Salesian Family.
The first MSMHC were formed by the FMA for 25 years and guided by the Salesians, thus the MSMHC have assimilated the values of the Salesian charism (family spirit, marian spirituality, joy, optimism, temperance, and work sanctified by prayer), the Preventive System and the apostolic spirituality of Don Bosco.
It all started in May 2017 when Fr. Alfred Maravilla, then Provincial of PGS, invited Mo. Philomena Matthew, MSMHC Superior General, to visit Papua New Guinea to examine the possibility of helping the Salesians’ pastoral ministry in the Archdiocesan Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, the Emmaus Conference Centre, and the Parish at Sabama. Mo. Philomena visited PNG on Oct 8-13, 2017. After consulting her Council, she agreed to send the first group in 2020. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 delayed the whole process. Finally, on its 80th foundation anniversary the MSMHC opened their first presence in Melanesia. On 23rd of April 2022 Sr. Mini Joseph and Sr. Lapynshai Khongwir arrived in Port Moresby, PNG. 5 months later a third sister arrived to complete the first MSMHC community in Melanesia.
To support their presence in PNG, Mo. Philo accepted the suggestion of Fr. Alfred to start a presence in the Philippines. Thus, during his extraordinary canonical visitation to FIN in Feb – May 2022, he put Mo. Philomena in contact with the FIN and FIS Provincials. Upon their invitation she will be visiting Manila and Cebu in February 2023 and explore possibilities to start a presence in the Philippines. May the Lord bless the MSMHC sisters' new presence in our EAO region.