For the Salesian community, every 24th day of the month holds a special significance. It is a day when the members of this close-knit community and Christians generally come together to express their gratitude and devotion to Mary Help of Christians.
On this Tuesday, 24 October 2023, the Salesian Community and Christians from ADMA (Association de Marie Auxiliatrice), students from Don Bosco IFAK Kimihurura and others gathered at Kimihurura Mary Help of Christians Parish to thank God for what he has done to them through the Virgin Mary.
The holy Mass for the day was celebrated by Father Pierre Célestin Ngoboka, the Provincial Superior of Africa of Great Lakes Province (AGL) who, in his homily, emphasized the place of the Virgin Mary in the Catholic Church and how she always helps the Christians.
He said: “Mary is our Mother and she always intercedes for us. Mary Help of Christians as Jesus gave us on the cross. We all need to be helped by our Mother as it is her main responsibility for her children”.
Father Ngoboka said that Mary is queen and mother; this means that she has the power and the will to help the Christians. “We have to love our mother, to ask for help as Don Bosco used to repeat in his teachings”.
Father Jean Claude Asifiwe, the Dean of Discipline at IFAK Don Bosco Kimihurura and also an expert in Mariology (the systematic study of the person of Mary, mother of Jesus, and her place in the Economy of Salvation in Catholic theology) explained how this day was prepared.
Father Asifiwe said that Mary Help of Christians helped Don Bosco, the Church and Christians tangibly. Mary helped the church when the Christians were in the Crusades and won the battle. He said: “In difficult times, Mary Help of Christians always was there and protected. That’s why, in the tradition of the Salesians, even though we celebrate the Feast of Mary Help of Christians every 24th of May generally, we have an exception to the Virgin Mary”.
The day of celebrating our Lady, Help of Christians started with the Novena from the 15th to the 23rd where a group of ADMA (Association de Marie Auxiliatrice) founded by Don Bosco, has prayers and teachings about Mary and her actions to Christians.
During this novena, a basket is set in the church and Christians put in their wishes and challenges for which they want the help of Mary Help of Christians. The testimonies have shown positive feedback.
The Salesians and their devotion to Mary
The Salesians, officially known as the Society of St. Francis de Sales, are a religious community within the Catholic Church founded by St. John Bosco in the 19th century. Their mission is to provide education and support to disadvantaged youth. Central to their beliefs is the deep devotion to the Virgin Mary, and this devotion finds expression in the form of the monthly holy mass of thanksgiving.
The 24th of each month serves as a reminder for the Salesians to reflect on the many blessings and graces they have received, and the primary source of these blessings, according to their faith, is the intercession of the Virgin Mary.
This monthly ritual of gratitude is not only a collective expression of thanksgiving but also an opportunity for individual reflection. It is a day when members of the Salesian community acknowledge the role of the Virgin Mary in their lives and the lives of the young people they serve.
The holy mass of thanksgiving on the 24th is not a solitary affair but a communal one. The Salesian community, including priests, brothers, sisters, and students, come together to celebrate this special day. The atmosphere is one of joy, camaraderie, and, most importantly, faith.