Tag Archives: St. John Bosco

The Call in the Desert

Sr. Jennifer Kane (right)

If you were to ask someone to name the largest order of religious women in the world, my guess would be that the Salesians would not be at the top of many people’s lists. Yet the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, who number 15,000 sisters, are indeed the largest congregation of women in the world.

Founded by St. John Bosco and St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello, their official name is Daughters of Mary Help of Christians or in Latin Filiae Mariae Auxiliatrice, hence the initials after their name: F.M.A. As Don Bosco said, “Times are so bad that we need Our Lady to help us to be faithful and defend our faith.” How true is that!

One women had a very circuitous path on her way to the Salesians. In a story from the Catholic News Service, Sr. Jennifer Kane recounts her journey from the Air Force to religious life. While working in the Air Force in Montana, she attended a Cursillo that greatly deepened her faith. After leaving active service, attaining the rank of captain, she joined the Air National Guard and was deployed four times: to Iraq (three times) and Saudi Arabia. Living in the desert, Jennifer devoted a lot of time to reading the Bible and realized: “The call from God was definitely there. I guess I was in denial a long time. (I would say to God), ‘I worked on nuclear weapons, I was a bomb loader, you can’t be talking to me.”’

Jennifer entered the Salesians in 2009. In their houses, she says, you experience a sense of joy and family spirit. This truly is in the spirit of Don Bosco whose mission was to educate young people, especially the poor, and to do it with a spirit of love.

After her first profession of vows in August, Jennifer is looking forward to her involvement with the Salesian schools, retreat centers and campus ministries. “There’s always been the hand of God in all of this,” she said. “God knows every move you make. He’s got this all planned, if you’re willing to accept his will and plan for you. Ultimately God gets you to the final destination.”

Daughter of Mary

While “nuns on the air conditioned bus/van” are getting a lot of attention in the press these days, I couldn’t help but the notice the contrast between this event and the work of a Salesian sister whom I had never heard of until today.

On November 24, 2012, Ven. Maria Troncatti (1883-1969), a Salesian Sister, will be beatified in Macas, Ecuador. Sister Maria made her first profession in 1908 and left for Ecuador in 1922 where she worked among the Shuar people.

She and two other sisters “faced dangers of every kind, including those caused by the beasts of the forest and by fast-flowing rivers that had to be waded through or crossed on fragile “bridges” made from creepers or on the shoulders of Indians. Sr. Maria was nurse, surgeon, orthopaedist, dentist – but, above all, catechist and evangelizer, rich in the wonderful resources of her faith, patience, and fraternal love. Her work for the promotion of the Shuar woman bore fruit in hundreds of new Christian families formed, for the first time, on a free personal choice on the part of the young couple.”

Sr. Maria died in an airplane crash in Ecuador in 1969. Her works bore fruit that will last for all eternity, something that escapes notice of the secular press but not of our Heavenly Father. Her community, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (Salesians) was founded by St. John Bosco and St. Mary Domenica Mazzerello and came to the US in 1908. They are the largest congregation of sisters in the world with over 15,000 sisters and growing!!