A Christian, moral, academic and cultural education offered to children and youths in schools.
- Meetings for parents
- Vocational work in schools and parishes
- Homes for organisation of retreats and the direction of prayer groups
- Teaching of Catechism
- Animation and evangelisation of pilgrims
The Congregation of the Augustinian Sisters, Servants of Jesus and Mary was founded within the Church and for the Church. Therefore, it is committed to offer witness and give service through its mission to God’s people. Until the fifties, the Congregation’s zone of activity embraced Italy and Malta, countries where its history was well established. But the signs of the time showed the need to reach those peoples to whom Christ had not yet been made known, peoples still in search of dignity and justice. A small number of sisters left for Australia on a mission of education within school and parishes, with special emphasis on work with migrants. Subsequently attention was turned on to the United States where other sisters arrived to commit themselves in the same way in the fields of education and parish work. In the following years we reached England, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Philippines and India. We can say that we are to be found in five continents.
In this immense field of the Church’s mission, our specific mandate as Augustinian Sisters, Servants of Jesus and Mary, inspired as we are by Mother Spinelli, is the Christian and intellectual formation of youths. This is a serious commitment that demands from each one of us not only complete faithfulness to the truth that is Jesus Christ, a solid academic foundation and a sensitive and up to date pedagogy but also a continuous effort to be in touch with the culture of the people among whom we work.
Our apostolate stretches over a wide area ranging from the teaching of the youngest children in kindergarten to the cultural formation of youths in the highest school grades. Mother Spinelli from the very beginning of her activity had an extraordinarily modern concept of education. She opened her first public school for girls in Frosinone – public, because it was open to everyone and funded by the State and above all because its aim was to work for the general good and not for one particular group.
For the first time, education began to be considered everyone’s right. The private school had, almost in all cases, been an elitist school. On the contrary, Mother Spinelli held the modern belief that everyone had a right to education, that there must be an opportunity for everyone in social and moral life.
Responding to the cultural, educational and spiritual needs as well as to the demand for meaning in the life of children, adolescents and youths, as well as of families, the Congregation and our schools offer these aims:
- To offer a holistic education according to the spirit and values of the Gospel.
- To help the individual progress by establishing harmony between human culture and the message of salvation.
- To serve as guides and companions in the search of the Eternal.
- To educate for a lifestyle based upon the real communion, that is a positive relationship with God, with nature and with fellow humans.
- To welcome children, adolescents and youths from all social classes, cultures and beliefs while offering special attention to those who are poor and have special needs
‘Let them be not only teachers to their students but also their mothers in the Lord, loving them tenderly and educating them with loving care’ (Mother Teresa Spinelli) Another particular aspect of Mother Spinelli’s charism is the attention she gives to the woman and the authentic value of femininity especially in the light of her mission within the family, the Church and society.
‘The religious should not only be concerned with their own perfection, but should also be fully committed to the good and perfection, above all, of women.’ (Mother Teresa Spinelli).
Where women have not yet started on their way towards full dignity and emancipation, our sisters offer initiatives which would show them the way to advance as social human beings. In the Democratic Republic of Congo hundreds of girls attend our school which, besides offering a cultural and religious formation, also offer lessons in cutting out and needlework as a practical preparation for life. Another such instance is to be found in our community in Brazil. Here we do not only offer lessons in hygiene, in the care of babies and women’s health to young mothers, but also try to achieve our fundamental aims through the education of their children.
Other aspects of our Congregation’s apostolate are our nursery schools where we receive youngsters who come to us for familial reasons or for study purposes. We also have children’s homes, previously known as orphanages, but which are now called family homes for children with difficulties. Mother Spinelli cherished this type of apostolate and wanted us, above all, to care for young girls who are poor and in need, giving them human, spiritual and intellectual help to enable them to face life with a sense of honesty. Particular attention is given to parents’ associations and ex-students, especially nowadays when the collaboration of lay people is becoming more important and urgently needed within the church.
Missionary and vocational activity has nowadays, more than ever before, become a stimulus to encourage youngsters to respond generously to God’s call. Our Congregation has already set up and is in the process of preparing more houses of prayer for those who wish to rediscover their contemplative dimension in a world which has become so distracted. Our special wish is for our service within the Church to become precious in the sight of God.
Music gives our students the chance to excel in the art and socialise more easily with their fellows. In music they experience Beauty, which is one of God’s divine gifts to men and are better able by it to live in harmony with others, once they come to experience these things of beauty. But Beauty is Truth and Truth is God.
God is to be found in the true natural beauty of all the things around us. So gradually, the mind of our students is led to admire, appreciate the things of Beauty which are “a joy forever” (J. Keats). Consequently, they learn to love Beauty which is Truth and Truth leads them to God, the Creator of the universe. As they love, admire and appreciate, God is silently and gradually being embedded in their hearts.
In 1950 the Augustinian Sisters of Piazza Mastai Rome built a house in Ladispoli as a summer residence for their students. In 1964 a second storey was built and the Sisters looked after their city bound students during the summer. In the year 2000, after a period during which the house had remained vacant due to new legislation, the extensive ground floor was turned into a childcare centre whilst the upper storey was refurbished into studio flats.
Serve the Lord with a joyful spirit.
-M. Teresa Spinelli