SIHMA | Scalabrini Institute For Human Mobility In Africa

133th Anniversary of Foundation of the Missionaries of St. Charles - Scalabrinians, 28 november 2020

On the 28th of November SIHMA, as a Scalabrinian Institute celebrates the anniversary of foundation of the Congregation of Missionaries of St.Charles, Scalabrinians. This year we celebrate 133 years from the foundation.

Father Mauro Lazzarato, the superior of the Scalabrinians of Europe and Africa, sends out a message for the celebration and he invites to collaborate and to keep up the attention to the reality of the facts. Here below is his message (1). In this occasion the Scalabrinian family also celebretes the new Cardinal: the Scalabrinian missioanry, Monsignor Tomasi.

Celebrating this day every year can become an auspicious occasion to recharge our socio-pastoral action among and with migrants with strong motivations, but also to commemorate the initiative of the bishop and founder John Baptist Scalabrini.

His "all-round" intervention, on that distant 28th November 1887, still resounds in our minds today, through the evolution and the facet of the planning actions implemented over the years: we are no longer just those missionaries recognized for their generous apostolic service wherever a migrant is located, but we also consider ourselves being more and more collaborators of the civil society in building an increasingly fraternal and interconnected world.(2)

I think I can state that in our hands we see growing new opportunities for commitment and challenge; that while we are aware that ours is a small boat sailing in the sea of contemporary migrations, we do not fail to feed the interest and effort to give timely answers on this front. Perhaps I may be accused of excessive optimism, especially in a historical time like the present, but trying to recapitulate what characterizes our missionary commitment today I see many features of Blessed Scalabrini confirmed.   

The founder gives us a precious sign of his temperament when, at the beginning of his pastoral activity, he "clashes" in person with the dramatic situation of the workers and affirms: "Many believe that the social question, the workers' question, the revolution, socialism, anarchism, and the international are a single and horrible novelty, a hellish sect born in darkness [...]; and in their simple faith, they are content to weep and pray, so that the good Lord will remove this scourge. Excellent thing to cry and pray [...], but it's not enough. We must take the field". (3)

When he is elected bishop, then, he does not remain closed within the episcope, but travels the length and breadth of the diocese, even in the most scattered places, where the bishops had not visited for a while. Keeping his eyes and ears wide open, Scalabrini, right in Piacenza, knows the painful story of many who left their land every year to try to achieve a lasting and solid future. Of those years he remembers: "An excellent man and Christian exemplary of a small mountain village, where [...] I was on a pastoral visit, he presented himself to me to ask for a blessing [...] for himself and for his people leaving for America. To my observations he opposed this simple, painful dilemma: either steal or emigrate...". (4). 

It is from here that Scalabrini's various initiatives will be born to help a humanity on the move, those that still can be glimpsed today and which have gradually become increasingly ours: the conscientization of Christian communities; the commitment to "networking" with the rest of society; the founding of our Congregation; the opening to a laity engaged in the field. 

An itinerary, that of Scalabrini, that today challenges us and those ones we invite to collaborate in the common missionary challenge, men and women of good will who spend themselves for the good of those who are more in the existential periphery of our world. Scalabrini has shown us how this can happen: keeping our attention to the reality of the facts; looking at them and listening to them, evaluating them with intelligence, making them their own with generosity and facing them concretely. This is also my wish for everyone on this special day! 

In the occasion of this celebration of the Scalabrinian congregation, Father Leonir M. Chiarello, superior general of the Scalabrini congregation, wrote a message for all the missionaries and lay people. (5)

Father Chiarello invites to “create a culture of vocation”, he suggests to continue keeping alive the values, charisma and history of the Scalabrinian missionaries, continuing protecting those who are forced to leave and take the challenge of following the footsteps of those who preceded them. If you would like to read the superior general’s full message please see the link below. (6)



  1.  and read also
  3. IL SOCIALISMO e l’AZIONE del CLERO. Osservazioni, Torino, Libreria Salesiana Editrice, 1899.
  4. L’emigrazione italiana in America, Piacenza 1887.
  6. Message from the Superior General:


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