World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action against Human Trafficking
Message for the occasion of the Day of Consacrated Life
My warmest greetings to each of you in Christ Jesus, in this time of celebration of the Scalabrinian Year. This time invites us to intensify the search for the revitalization of our consecration and missionary spirit as Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters, in fidelity to the Scalabrinian charism, open to the new calls of the Lord, living and strengthening of our own identity, being a sign of the Kingdom of God, witness and prophecy, in the world of human
In an attitude of faith and welcoming the mandate of the XIV General Chapter, we were asked to carry out the guidelines issued by the same Chapter, so that creative and dynamic processes of renewal of consecrated life, grounded in Jesus Christ, could be promoted in the Congregation, in view of a growth in spiritual and missionary fruitfulness in the whole Congregation. And we have started our journey, trusting in the grace of God that “makes all things new” (Is 43:19).
After two years of journey, in the light of the Chapter directives, with a heart full of gratitude and thanksgiving to God for all that He has accomplished in us and, for everything that His grace has made it possible for us to accomplish, I convoke the X General Assembly of the Congregation, according to Regulations n.103, letter q, and numbers 115-117. As announced during the meeting of Governments held last November, the Assembly will have the following theme and motto:
– Theme: Revitalization of Scalabrinian Consecrated Life in a Charismatic, Ecological
and Synodal Key.
– Motto: Let the wealth of the nations enter in you (Isaiah 60:11).
The Assembly will take place from September 14 to 23, 2022, at CECREI – Cristo Rei Spirituality Center, Rua Regina Mundi, no 333 – Bairro Cristo Rei – São Leopoldo – RS, Brazil.
We will, therefore, carry out this journey in the light of the provisions issued by the XIV General Chapter, whose chapter document highlights the importance of caring for creation as the “common home, in which everythin is interconnected”. For us, in particular, as the Final Document of the Chapter rightly states, the common home is also
the Congregation, where everything is interconnected, where we carry out our mission and live our relationships: with ourselves, with God, with others and with migrants and refugees. Yes, dear Sisters, Consecrated Life is called in this world to witness to the Word of God and His will. And, in order to fulfill this prophetic mission, Consecrated Life is called to remain attractive, continuing to be a school of communion, nourishing the freshness and novelty of the centrality of Jesus Christ, the attractiveness of spirituality and the strength of mission, witnessing to the beauty of following Jesus Christ and radiating hope and joy.
In fact, the task entrusted to consecrated life is to bear witness – in this our time – that God is happiness. Fixing our gaze and our hearts on Him allows us to live in fullness.
Motivated by the desire to live consecration in an ecological and synodal perspective, in the certainty that the joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus Christ (Rejoice, 1), we feel challenged to revitalize the spiritual and missionary fruitfulness of the Congregation, starting from the joy of the call to be missionary disciples of Jesus, witnessing: The joy of following Jesus Christ; The joy of prophesying; The joy of walking with migrants and refugees; The joy of sharing.
We are living in a time of epochal change, where a change of mentality is not sufficient, but a “mentality of change” is necessary. Therefore, it is important to recognize and welcome this time of change not as a drama affecting our generations, but as a resource, a possibility, or even a gift of the Spirit for the present and for the future. Both the opportunities and the difficulties that arise in times like these must be faced with innovative and audacious
responses, with a new way of looking at and perceiving reality.
It is in this context that the Congregation is searching for paths of reorganization in order to serve migrants and refugees, especially the most vulnerable, in a responsible and merciful way, in fidelity to the Scalabrinian charism which is, at the same time, a gift and a task, a grace and a responsibility. Therefore, the process of reorganization for revitalization is not the result of a simple organizational procedure but is inserted in a process of global
transformation, in which consecrated and missionary life is also inserted.
Sisters, the General Assembly is an event of grace, a gift that God makes to all the members of the Congregation and to the Church and, as such, it should be welcomed by all the Sisters, so that all feel they are participating in it, from its preparation to its realization. Therefore, I ask you that the X General Assembly be prepared and lived in all our
communities, with prayers and Eucharistic celebrations, as well as through study and reflection on the material for its preparation, in an attitude of listening and in openness to the Holy Spirit in order to welcome God’s calls to our Congregation at this moment in our history.
Let us entrust this X General Assembly of the Congregation to the protection of the Virgin Mary, our Mother on the journey, asking her to keep alive in us the spark of wonder and the beauty of the centrality of Jesus Christ, the true light which enlightens all humanity (John 1:9).
With sisterly affection,
Sr. Neusa de Fátima Mariano, mscs
Sister Pietra Luana (Etra) Modica, a Scalabrinian missionary, is the new general secretary of the Pontifical Urbaniana University. The official appointment was signed today, September 30, 2021, by Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokin Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Grand Chancellor of the University. It is the first time since its founding in 1627 that the position has been designated to a woman. “I thank Cardinal Tagle and the congregation of the Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters – explains Sister Etra – I bring in my history the charism at the service of migrants because the formation is one of the keys to integration and new opportunities also for the religious women and men who come from different countries and study at the Urbaniana University.” The University was founded in the seventeenth century with a profound purpose: to form missionaries and thus enter into relation with the peoples of the world. Basically, even then, a global observatory was created in Rome capable of pointing to educational paths to strengthen dialogue and interchange. “In communion with the general councilors, with all the Scalabrinian Sisters and in communion with the Scalabrinian Family, I thank Cardinal Tagle for the appointment of Sister Etra Luana Modica – says Sister Neusa de Fatima Mariano, general superior of the Scalabrinian Sisters – that is for us a recognition of our mission with migrants and refugees. We welcome it as a service to the Church, with an international view”. Sister Etra Modica has vast experience in the field of formation and the pastoral care of migrants, having held positions within her Congregation and in ecclesial organizations.
For the second consecutive year, the itinerant mission of the Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters has started on the island of Lesbos to help and support the thousands of refugees arriving from the Middle East and Africa who are seeking hope and salvation in Europe. Thanks to the collaboration with the Community Sant’Egidio, this initiative is possible and an agreement leading to the activation of a series of initiatives in Italy and the rest of the world. The Lesbos mission is one of these and has as protagonist the European Province St. Joseph. “The welcoming and the availability of the community Sant’Egidio are distinctive signs for us and are the possibility of a more articulated action for our service and to be in communion with migrants and refugees. Also, thanks to them we are able to set out towards the others – says Sister Neusa de Fatima Mariano, general superior of the Scalabrinian Sisters, a Congregation that since its foundation has as a mission the service to the migrant person – Thanks to them we will be there for the second consecutive year, offering assistance on this border area, where the request for help rises stronger. Throughout the summer, we will be with them, and we will extend a hand to families, mothers, fathers, and to the little ones”. This is an initiative that the Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters have promoted in the perspective of an “outgoing Church,” just as Pope Francis asked. The nine sisters will remain in Lesbos for a few months and will take turns in helping migrants in this border area on the Greek island opposite Turkey. The focus of their attention will be the Moria camp, a place where thousands of refugees live in degrading conditions that put their lives at risk. “This experience is a response to the Pontiff’s call to go to the human peripheries. In Moria, there is a continuous alarm to which we all must respond,” continues Sister Neusa. For Sister Milva Caro, provincial superior of Europe, “the emergency calls again all of us to mobilize to help the migrants who have never stopped crowding the Mediterranean routes.” It may no longer make the headlines, but thousands of people, women, and unaccompanied children, are still looking for a breach towards hope,” she adds. “Missionary activity is fundamental not only to respond to basic needs but also to give comfort, which is essential for those who have left everything behind and have often seen their dearest ones fall along the way.”
“Covid cannot make one to turn a blind eye to an unprecedented economic and social crisis and human trafficking that continues to distinguish the poorest countries in the world. More than one in two migrant women are victims of psychological and physical abuse and almost four out of ten have been subjected to torture. These numbers should make it clear how helping women, who find themselves in situations of vulnerability, in Italy, as in the rest of the world, is one of the priorities to be followed even during this pandemic period”. This is said by Sister Neusa de Fatima Mariano, Superior General of the Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters, a congregation that since their foundation has been involved in assisting the migrants, on the occasion of International Women’s Day which is celebrated today, 8 March. The data is based on a study by the Ismu Foundation / The tree of life on values from 2019.
“These numbers testify that in the agenda of political decision-makers there cannot be only the management of the coronavirus emergency, although it is a priority and important – she continues – Women have a fundamental role in the family, in the development of children, in the desire for redemption and growth that distinguish this historical moment. Thanks to the intentions of the Holy Father, we have created ‘timed’ shelters, such as those opened in Rome by the ‘Chaire Gynai’ project, where we allow people in fragile and semi-autonomous conditions to be able to integrate and live a whole new colorful life. If on the one hand the social network wants to welcome, integrate, protect and promote, on the other it is opportune that the countries around the world decide a clear approach in the fight against human trafficking and violence against women.
Protecting them means protecting life, always, because a world without women would be sterile, because they know how to look at everything with maternal eyes that see beyond and are capable of giving birth to solidarity and universal fraternity from within the same drama of emigration, in view of new heavens and a new earth! Thanks to all the women who dedicate themselves to defend the life and dignity of the feminine condition, made vulnerable by exploitation and injustice”
The International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking 2021 brings into the spotlight one of the main causes of human trafficking: the dominant economic model of our time, whose limits and contradictions are exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Human trafficking is an integral part of “this economy”: victims of trafficking are as “commodities” falling into the mechanisms of a globalization ruled by financial speculation and competition spurred by below-cost pricing. Hence the need for a “structural and global”
perspective of human trafficking so as to dismantle those wicked mechanisms that fuel the supply and demand of “people to exploit”, because the very heart of the economy is sick.
An aphorism attributed to Oscar Wilde states that the cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing, this economy seems dominated by cynicism: not only does the market fix the price of commodities, services and persons, but also what is
even more appalling is that the price sets their value. Businesses themselves are victim of this, because financial markets rank them based on their share price, not on the added value produced by their human capital.
Human trafficking is only the tip of an iceberg, the magnifying lens of distress caused by the dominating neoliberalism that relies on a (false) idea of economic freedom that considers any ethical, social and political circumstance as irrelevant and a hurdle. However, the opposite is true, in fact, an economy without human trafficking is an economy that values and cares for the human being and nature, is inclusive and does not exploit the most vulnerable.
This perspective has led the International Committee of the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking to take part in “The economy of Francesco”: a large movement of young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers convened by Pope
Francis from all over the world to share ideas and plan initiatives for promoting integral and sustainable human development in the spirit of Francis.
The Message of Sr. Neusa de Fatima Mariano for the World Day of Consacrated Life
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