The strong appeal of Pope Francis on the occasion of the celebration of World Migrant and Refugee Day 2018 still resounds in our hearts. Migrants are today a reality more and more present in our lives, in society and in the life of the Church. Impossible not to admit it. Armed conflicts, wars and natural disasters force many men, women and children to leave their land simply to survive. Welcoming in this way becomes a Christian imperative that we cannot ignore, but it is necessary to go further, it is necessary to welcome, promote and integrate, reminding us that behind the numbers there are people who live through dramas and suffering, who challenge us and ask for our attention. As Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters, the invitation to be with migrants and refugees, especially those living in situations of greater vulnerability, is not an option; it is for each of us a duty, a privileged opportunity to live and express the specific mission that God has entrusted to us.
The challenges of migration far outweigh our possibilities. But these multiply if we look generously, rather than at our possibilities, at the needs of migrants.
The Itinerant Service, within the process of internal reorganization of the Congregation, has the objective of encouraging a new way of presence, action and experience of the Scalabrinian charism. To advance in this process, the preparatory commission of the Itinerant Service met in Rome from 22nd to 27th January 2018, together with the General Government, to give continuity to the process of reflection and planning of this project and to elaborate a proposal of specific preparation for the sisters, so as to qualify our implementation with the migrants and refugees, who are for us the living face of Jesus.
We want to share with you the work carried out during these days and give some indications on the next steps to be taken, in order to finally start the Itinerant Service:
Final drafting of the “ad experimentum” regulation, integrating all the contributions received from the provincial governments, on the basis of the reflection that had been requested of them:
Wide reflection on the current migratory reality. In this context, possible places have been identified where the Itinerant Service is most solicited by the clamour of migrants and where the Congregation can establish partnership agreements with other Institutions. Initially, thought was given to countries such as Nigeria, Indonesia, India, the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, Mexico, the exodus of Venezuelans (Roraima-Brazil, and possibly other countries), Lesbo-Greece;
Meeting and dialogue with the representatives of the Foundations of the Good Shepherd Sisters and Marist Brothers to learn about their work, how they support their congregational services and to share their experiences in the field of seeking resources for the realization of their missionary projects. These experiences are valuable to us insofar as they show us possible ways to seek help for the realization of the Itinerant Service
Reflection on some possible ways of specific preparation of the sisters, elaborating a plan that will have two stages:
1st on-line course with topics that will be developed by experts during some study sessions; language learning, both in the country of residence and intensively in several other countries; experiences within institutions that can enrich the implementation of the Sisters in the Itinerant Service.
2nd – A residential meeting: an intensive stage of short duration with the participation of a group of sisters is planned. During this meeting, together with the contribution of expert consultants, there will be an exchange of experiences and in-depth study topics.
The Itinerant Service wants to be a visible icon of the faith of the Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters, which expresses their love for God and their publicly professed decision to give their lives in evangelical and missionary service to migrants and refugees. With joy we can say that we have a significant adherence of sisters who have registered, just like many others who support this service, this shows how missionary work is alive in the hearts of the sisters and in the Congregation.
Whether in Africa, Asia, America or Europe, the Itinerant Service will be present in the name of each sister of the Congregation of the Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters. Those who are present in the various missions, such as those who offer their pains and sacrifices and tiredness in prayer, all share in the mission of welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating the migrants and refugees whom God has entrusted to us.
The work that the committee has done so far is certainly incomplete, because we are still in the construction phase. We are convinced that “on the way” the process will help to improve and adapt the Service to the circumstances of the times and places. We dare, however, to begin, to start, to set out as an “outgoing Church”, towards migrants and refugees.
We consider very important the meeting of the Superior General and Council with the Provincial Governments of the Congregation, which will take place in Chicago in April 2018, when they will be studied, analyzed and decisions made with a view to the concretization of the activities.
We thank all the sisters and young people in formation who pray and support the implementation of this proposal approved by the IX General Assembly of the Congregation (2016), regarding the MSCS Itinerant Service. May our sisters who are already in heaven help us to be ever more missionary and daring witnesses of God’s love, with migrants and refugees.
Through the intercession of Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini, Blessed Assunta Marchetti and the venerable servant of God Giuseppe Marchetti, we entrust this process to the Lord, asking Him to strengthen our journey so as to be able to give new and ever more appropriate responses to the appeals of our migrant and refugee brothers.