Milan n. 15
Cesare Melloni st.
A humble beginning: Two women, sr. Giuseppina Dones and the young Giuseppina Rodolfi with a prayer of consacration to the Immaculate Virgin Mary gave rise to a new religious Missionary family in the Church drawing from the same charismatic inspiration of the PIME.
And before that moment? Twenty years of waiting, dreams and prayers: a project that took shape slowly.
The Protagonists of the History were Sr. Giuseppina Dones, Giuseppina Rodolfi, Foundresses, Fr. Paolo Manna (beatified in 2001), Inspirer of the Charism and Bishop Lorenzo Maria Balconi, the Co-founder.
The research of sr. Giuseppina Dones
We are in 1898 and Giuseppina Dones was 18 years old. During the Popular Mission in her Parish at Baggio (Milan), she decided to consecrate herself to God through Missionary life. When her sister Ida entered the Institute of the Sisters of Reparation, Giuseppina accompanied her and she was invited to join. In 1916 the Sisters of Reparation agreed to co-operate with the PIME, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions of Milan, in the dispatch of the Missionary magazines and Sr. Giuseppina Dones was assigned to this work.
The director of the office was Fr. Paolo Manna. Mother Dones met him on 9th January 1917, a date that she would never forget.
M. Dones dedicated herself to the new service with passion, convinced that it is a means to awaken the Missionary zeal in all the Christians. But the Sisters of Reparation considered it as a burdensome commitment that took their valuable time. Therefore, an idea comes to her mind: personnel, who could devote themselves to this work as a vocation, may be able to realize it better. For more than two years she kept this intuition as a secret; and in 1919, for the first time, she spoke it out to Fr. Manna.
In 1925 and 1926 the first attempts to carry out the project failed.
The path of Giuseppina Rodolfi
In the same year, Giuseppina Rodolfi, a 14-year-old girl of Milan in search of her ideal of life, got an intuition of the road she was to tread. One fine day, her father brought home a missionary magazine of the PIME and, seeing it she said to herself “I have found it, I want to be a Missionary!”. There were many Missionary Institutes at the time, but she was not attracted by any one of them. By attending assiduously the activities promoted by the Institute for Foreign Missions, together with her brother Armando, she grew in her desire to be part of an organisation that had the same spirit of the PIME.
The protagonists of the History met each other
Giuseppina Rodolfi met Mother Dones during the Congress of the Friends of the PIME and Mother Dones introduced her to Fr. Manna. Giuseppina had the courage to gather around her the first group of the missionary aspirants and insisted with Fr. Manna so that he may give life to their ideal. But for a long time Fr. Manna did not decide and he put many objections to her invitation. Instead Fr. Giovanni Battista Tragella, supported and encouraged Giuseppina in her difficulties.
In 1934 the PIME Fathers, during their General Chapter held in Hong Kong, accepted the proposal to establish a female Institute parallel to the PIME and the project was entrusted to Msgr. Lorenzo M. Balconi, the new Superior General of the Institute. But again they had to wait for two more years. Finally, on 8th December 1936, Mother Dones and Giuseppina Rodolfi in front of a small altar with the picture of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, in a rented house in Milan, consecrated themselves to God for the Mission.