08/01/2012, 00.00
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A DVD on Fr Fusco to evangelise among young Indians

by Nirmala Carvalho
Titled 'Don Fusco A voice for today,' the film tells the story of the founder of the Sisters of St John the Baptist. Beatified in 2001 by John Paul II, Fr Alfonso Maria Fusco (1839-1910) wanted to teach the values of human dignity to the poor, the oppressed, girls and young people.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Sister Mary Anthony, provincial superior for Indian of the Congregation of the Sisters of St John the Baptist, showed AsiaNews a DVD titled 'Don Fusco A voice for today' on the life of the congregation's founder. The purpose of the initiative is to enrich the lives of new generations through the witness of the Blessed Alfonso Maria Fusco.

The film begins with the life and formative years of the Italian clergyman, and continues with his time in the seminary and the fulfilment of his dream, namely the creation of an order for sisters and an orphanage for boys and girls.

Born in Angri (Salerno Province, Italy) in 1839, Fr Fusco showed the early signs of his vocation when he was 11 when he entered the Episcopal seminary in Nocera dei Pagani in 1850. On saying goodbye, his mother told him, "Go and become a saint."

Subsequently, the young seminarian met Maddalena Caputo, a noblewoman from Angri, who pushed him to set up the women's religious congregation, something that he already wanted to do. In 1878, the Sisters of St John the Baptist were born with Lady Caputo as the first mother superior under the name of Sister Crocifissa.

Over the years, the Baptistines spread to other parts of Italy, eventually moving into foreign lands, always involved in educational and charity work for the elderly and the sick. Fr Fusco died in 1910 and was beatified on 7 October 2001 by Pope John Paul II.

"We Baptistines arrived in India in 1976," said Sr Mary Anthony. "Today, the congregation is present in six states, four in the south, plus Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh."

"Fr Fusco's mission was to help the poor, the oppressed, girls, women and youth through education and rehabilitation, teaching them the sense and value of every human being."

In 36 years, the sisters have opened seven schools with 6,500 students, admitted without discrimination on the basis of caste or religious belief.

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