28 November 1887 – 28 November 2017
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” Mt 25, 35. The Scalabrinian Congregation throughout the world on November 28, 2017, celebrated One hundred and thirtieth anniversary of the foundation of its charism of serving migrants and refugees. The year 1987 was decisive for Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini to found the Congregation to take care of the people in the move. The community of Cape Town composed by fathers and seminarians, on that day, has had the great joy to join the whole Congregation in the celebration of the foundation of the Scalabrinian Charism in the Church. It was a day characterized of encounter, of fraternity and celebration enriched by the presence of Vicar General of the diocese of Cape Town Fr Peter John and some members of the Scalabrinian lay movement, the three communities that we serve; French, Portuguese and English, and our friends who share our spirituality, apostleship of the sea (AOS).
We held the feast at Holy Cross parish and we began our celebrations with the with the mass, presided by General Vicar of the diocese Fr Peter John, concelebrated by several priests. The mass was animated by the francophone community with beautiful songs in French, Lingala and English. Fr. Gerardo superior of the community in Cape Town gave the homily. In his homily he emphasized on the essence and importance of the Scalabrinian charism in regard of the new migration in the world today. He said the Scalabrinians are carrying on this charism that John Baptist Scalabrini started in the Church bearing in mind of two polarities; fidelity and actualization.
After the Eucharistic celebration, the feast continued in the Holy Cross Church hall, where the community of the Scalabrinian fathers and lay people prepared some refreshments. During this time, helped by Fr. Filippo and modern technology, there was the presentation in PowerPoint of the projects the congregation in Africa; Cape Town, Johannesburg and Nampula., So each one had the opportunity to see the apostolic commitment of each community and various accomplishments and collaborations.
For us here, in Cape Town, celebrating the hundred and thirty years, was like revisiting the history of the congregation with the eyes of gratitude, seizing the signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit and of the goodness of God. Bearing in mind some hard work that the founder and the first missionaries have done to spread the charism and accompanying the Italian migrants that time. For us it was an invitation to look at the future with the perspective of faith, the challenges of human mobility that ask us to be men full of humanity and God, witnesses of the charism and attentive to the cry of the migrants and refugees. Last and not the least to emulate the founder John Baptist Scalabrini who loved and dedicated his life to serve others especially the poor.