“In Milan I was a spectator to a scene that left an impression of deep sadness in my soul. Passing through the station I saw the vast hall invaded by three or four hundred poorly dressed individuals. They were emigrants … I left there deeply moved».
In G.B. Scalabrini’s life so many choices have an encounter as their origin. In particular, in front of the drama of people forced to leave their country in search of a more dignified life, he does not remain indifferent but allows himself to be touched by the pain of the other. His testimony is precious for us men and women of today who so easily risk being infected by the “culture of indifference.”
HIS TIRELESS ACTION
“Faced with this lamentable situation, I have often asked myself: how can it be remedied?”?»
G.B. Scalabrini’s emotion is not a sterile feeling, an emotion for its own sake: it generates in him a tireless action that leads him to intervene in multiple contexts making himself “all things to all people.” In particular, Scalabrini begins to follow the affairs of migrants by searching, studying and raising awareness. He called bishops, priests, lay people, the Holy See, the government and all people of good will to collaborate, because “charity … knows no party.”
More than a century after his death, his legacy still bears fruit, and today there are thousands of Scalabrinian male and female missionaries and volunteers around the world who follow in his footsteps and serve the least of this earth, migrants and refugees.
HIS PASSION FOR TRANSMITTING THE FAITH
“To work, to toil, to sacrifice oneself in every way in order to expand down here the Kingdom of God and save souls; to put oneself, I will say it like this, on one’s knees before the world to implore as a grace permission to do good to it….”
Scalabrini is remembered as a bishop ready to offer without measure his care as a pastor in every situation. He sensed the importance of religious education, especially of the youngest: he wrote the “Piccolo Catechismo per asili d’infanzia” [Little Catechism for kindergartens ] and in 1876 inaugurated the monthly magazine “Il Catechista Cattolico” [The Catholic Catechist]. Three years after the beginning of his episcopate there were 4,000 new catechists in the diocese. Similarly, provoked by the news he received about the difficulties encountered by migrants, he felt the need to support their faith by sending missionaries as fellow travelers. His passion is still alive today in his missionaries, members of the three institutes of the Scalabrinian Family, as well as in many collaborators.
A PROPHETIC VISION OF MIGRATION
«… but even more do human beings migrate, sometimes in groups, sometimes alone, and, in so doing, are always the free instruments of Divine Providence, which presides over human destiny, leading all people, even through great calamities, to their final goal: the perfection of man on earth and the glory of God in heaven”.
God’s plan for humanity passes through the events of history, giving them meaning, a new direction. Looking at reality with the eyes of faith Scalabrini discerns this possibility: even the reality of migration, with all the upheavals it entails, can become a space where God’s action and man’s response can meet. Through migration, which brings different peoples together, we can learn to recognize that we all belong to the one human family.
The three Scalabrinian Institutes have organized events and initiatives within the framework of the Scalabrinian Year, which began on November 7, 2021, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the beatification of John Baptist Scalabrini. These events have now acquired more importance and seem to be moments of preparation for the canonization. Some of these events are recalled below.
Other initiatives will be planned and we will communicate them as soon as possible.
"Khaire Gynai," or "Welcome, hello women." This is the name of the welcoming project for migrant, refugee mothers and women, and victim of violence launched in Rome by the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo Scalabrinians.
Every day Giulia Civitelli, a Scalabrinian secular missionary and doctor, goes to the Polyclinic of the Caritas Diocesan of Rome at Termini Station, where she meets and treats homeless people, migrants and refugees, and others without legal permit to be in the country.
"In the face of men with gangrenous feet from the cold, families with children at the spread in the mined forests of Bosnia, young people bitten by the dogs of Croatian law enforcement, we cannot remain indifferent, we must be responsible for the other". Father Jonas Donassollo
A bishop, founder of two congregations, the Missionaries and the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, Scalabrini was first and foremost a man in love with God, capable of seeing in the least the gaze of Jesus.