Pope meeting participants in the symposium on Scalabrinian spirituality Pope meeting participants in the symposium on Scalabrinian spirituality  (Vatican Media)

Pope praises Scalabrinians for their unwavered commitment to migrants

Addressing participants in a symposium on Scalabrinian spirituality, Pope Francis encourages Scalabrinian Missionaries to continue their precious work for migrants following the path of their founder, St. Giovanni Battista Scalabrini.

By Lisa Zengarini

Pope Francis on Saturday welcomed to the Vatican a group of  participants in an international symposium on Scalabrinian spirituality which has just concluded  in Rome.  

The Scalabrinian Missionaries (also known as Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo) were founded in the late 19th century by St. Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, an Italian bishop who dedicated his life to Italian migrants emigrating to America, and today minister to migrants, refugees and displaced persons around the world.

St. Scalabrini's spiritual legacy

Addressing participants in the conference "I will come to gather all the people" (Is 66.18) on Scalabrini's spiritual legacy, Pope Francis noted its title is very fitting with the Scalabrinian charism of serving migrants and refugees considering themselves as “brothers and sisters on the journey towards unity.”

“The tragedy of migrations forcibly caused by wars, famine, poverty and environmental problems is clear for all to see today and this is precisely where your spirituality comes into play”, he said.

Church is open to anyone looking for a home and a safe haven

St. Scalabrini had an “enlightened and original vision of the migratory phenomenon, seen as a call to create communion in charity,” said the Pope. Impressed by the great misery endured by Italian migrants, which we still see nowadays in so many people forced to leave their own country for another,  he “understood that there was a sign from God for him: the call to assist those people materially and spiritually, so that none of them, left to themselves, would be lost, losing their faith, so that they could reach, as the prophet Isaiah says, the holy mountain of Jerusalem.”

For Scalabrini, Pope Francis continued, Jerusalem is the Catholic Church, that is universal precisely “because it is a city open to anyone looking for a home and a safe haven.”

Closeness, care and welcome

This vision, he remarked, is therefore a call “to cultivate hearts that yearn for  universality and unity, for encounter and communion”. It is an  invitation “to spread a mentality of closeness care and welcome" to build the “Civilization of Love” called for by Pope St. Paul VI, which, however, cannot be achieved with human forces alone.

“'Closeness': this key word… is the style of God, who always comes close.”

There is no mission without prayer

They need to cooperate with the Spirit, “under the guidance and with the energy that comes from God”. This, Pope Francis further pointed out,  involves an intimate relationship of love with Jesus, especially through the Eucharist because, as St. Scalabrini said,   "without prayer there is no mission."

The Pope therefore encouraged the Scalabrinanian Missionaries  to renew their commitment to migrants, and “to root it ever more in an intense spiritual life” following the example of their founder.

Concluding, he warmly thanked them for all the work they do for migrants in the world.

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14 October 2023, 13:01