Intercultural experience at the service of the charism • Istituto Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice

Shillong (India). From March 15 to April 20, 2024 in Shillong, at the new Provincial House “Auxilium” of the Immaculate Heart Province of Mary (INS), members of the English Translation Group (ETG) from five continents gathered for the annual meeting: Sister Patricia Finn (AFM), Sister Isabel Geraghty (GBR), Sister Jemella Joseph (ING), Sister Edna Mary MacDonald (SPR), Sister Judith Suprys, currently in Rome in the Generalate and SEC Province Representative.

During the 1996 General Chapter, the Provincials of the English-speaking Provinces asked the Superior General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Antonia Colombo, to set up an FMA group that would take care of the translations from Italian to English. They wanted representation from the five continents, to form a group of translators who could agree on a common English vocabulary for all contexts. That is why the group that is now called was founded in 1998 ETG (English Translation Group). Story of ETG

Upon arrival in Shillong, the group was greeted with a warm welcome in accordance with Indian tradition by the provincial community, the FMA which is experiencing the intensive year of temporary employment there, boarding schools and pre-aspirants. The huge campus where the House “Auxilium” is located is located on the top of a hill of Shillong, surrounded by many houses and buildings, an aspect that allowed them to observe daily life. During the day, the school campus resonated with the voices of the many teachers and students from kindergarten to high school, involved in various educational and recreational activities.

Provincial Sister Elizabeth George, who invited the group to hold the ETG meeting in Shillong, provided them with the provincial council meeting room, equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, and a small chapel containing the Blessed Sacrament. The day started with prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist with the Community, while in the evening the group met in the small chapel.

After translating other texts over the past ten years, it was decided to concentrate on the biographies of the Mothers General. Five have been translated so far. The aim of the meeting these days was to translate the life of Mother Angela Vespa (1958-1969).

Once the working methodology had been agreed, the FMA got to work. Each morning began with a prayer for the translators, setting the tone for the day. Each member had already translated her part of the assigned text, which had already been sent to the others for initial corrections. During the meeting, a small part of the translated text was read aloud, while another member of the group followed the Italian version. Everyone took notes on what had been read and at the end they shared any suggestions while another sister inserted corrections into the text. This first careful reading took the group almost two weeks. The same process was followed for the second and third revisions of the text. It took five weeks to complete the work.

This first draft was sent to the generalate for layout to Sister Francesca Scibetta, head of graphic design. The group is now awaiting the formatted text which, once revised, will be sent to India for printing and distribution in the provinces that have requested it. They also determined the costs of the book cover, the introduction to the text, the letter to the provincials, and the order forms for the book.

The five sisters also had the privilege of participating together in the celebration of the Easter Triduum, which was a wonderful experience. On Easter Sunday, the two communities gathered on the same campus to share lunch with the different groups who live and work there, including domestic workers, drivers, gardeners, etc. It was a true Salesian family experience. With their kindness and brotherhood, the sisters were impeccable and attentive to every need of the guests.

In their little spare time, the group visited the Don Bosco Center for Indigenous Cultures in Northeast India, which documents the diverse and rich cultures of this region of the country. They also enjoyed the natural beauty of Cheerapunji, a region known for the most consistent rainfall in the world, where they could admire at least one of the beautiful waterfalls and explore the Mawsmai Cave dug out of the water.

In a time characterized by globalization and the multiplication of conflicts, the experience of the ETG group is a sign of hopea testimony to the creativity and dedication of many FMAs who are eager to make the Institute’s charismatic wealth available to others.