Bringin Scalabrinian charism in our daily life
Who is a Lay Scalabrinian
“The council makes an earnest plea in the Lord’s name that all lay people give a glad, generous, and prompt response to the impulse of the Holy Spirit and to the voice of Christ, who is giving them an especially urgent invitation at this moment… to come closer to him every day, and with the recognition that what is his is also their own (Phil 2:5), they ought to associate themselves with him in his saving mission” (Apostolicam Actuositatem 33).
This invitation that the Council fathers made over thirty years ago to Christian lay people, has brought about a renewed awareness of the special vocation and mission of the Laity within the Church and in the world. Many women and men around the world are hearing God’s call. It’s a call to Christian maturity, to service and leadership, to deeper spirituality and to concrete social action.
Over a century ago, Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini, the “father of the migrants” envisioned a proactive and prophetic presence of lay people among the migrants he loved so much. He called them forth to join his religious missionaries to welcome, watch over, council and defend migrants and refugees.
A Lay Scalabrinian is a person who, aware of his/her baptismal calling, wishes to live it in a commitment to the migrants in accord with the Scalabrinian spirit and charisma.
A Lay Scalabrinian presents these traits:
- Attention and sensibility to the world of migrants and ability to reed such a reality in the light f faith
- A spirit of prayer and a belief in the Gospel values
- Proactive participation in the life of the local Church
- Ability to dialogue and openness to “the other”, “the different”
- Availability to serve the migrants in different capacities
- Participation in a Formation course
“The fundamental objective of the formation of the lay faithful is an ever-clearer discovery of one’s vocation and the ever-greater willingness to live it so as to fulfill one’s mission” (Christifideles Laici, 58). A lay Scalabrinian needs to understand and to familiarize himself/herself with of the following concepts and aspects:
1) Cultural identity and multicultural diversity
2) Migration: the phenomenon, the terminology, its causes and consequences
3) The rights of the migrants: a political, biblical and ecclesial perspective
4) Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini: the man of God, the father of the migrants
5) Scalabrinian Spirituality: holiness in the world of human mobility
6) Vocation and mission of the Scalabrinian Laity
7) Mission of the Lay Scalabrinian
“Dearly beloved, if the Holy Spirit truly burns in you, it will indeed burst into life and turn into action. It will pass from you to other souls, to your family, to your relatives and friends, to your fellow citizens, to the whole world around your, be It big or small. This priesthood, this lay apostolate, was always a duty and an honor, but today it is a supreme, urgent and absolute need.” (Blessed J.B.Scalabrini)
Role and Importance of Christian Lay People
“The two societies which I founded (religious and lay) share, more or less directly, the same task of the religious, civil and moral care of our expatriate brothers and sisters…, for in everything concerning migration, it is IMPOSSIBLE to separate religious, civil and national interests, public and private interests, without damage.”
Blessed J.B.Scalabrini, 1887 Address on Emigration”
“Everybody knows that ideas move ahead at such a discouragingly slow pace, especially when they run counter to certain interests and passions, but the pace is relentless when the ideas put forward are right and truly beneficial. We must press on, therefore, because every progress, however minimal, brings us closer to our goal, as long as fatigue does not defeat the supporters of those ideas.” (Bishop Scalabrini, Second Conference on Emigration , Turin 1898)
About Scalabrinian Lay Movement Meetings
Scalabrinian lay groups are asked to organize specific formation courses in the format that best meet their needs and according to the time available. A lay leader (better a team) will take it upon herself/himself to prepare, study, and teach the necessary material. Leaders should fell free to adapt the program to the needs of the group, by adding whatever is appropriate, rearranging the order of the topics, dedicating more time to one theme than another.
The teaching can be used in different ways and different settings: weekly or monthly meetings, formation weekends or intensive courses. Our communities are culturally very different and may require different kinds of approaches. The length and even the amount of classes will vary from region to region.
The material must be flexible to be adapted to the needs of the Group, the experience of the people, the developments in the pastoral care of the migrants and theological reflection, in a sort of cyclical, ongoing formation.
A meeting includes “usually” the following sections:
a) An outline b) Opening prayer c) Introductory activity d) Biblical reading and activity e) Study session, some including activities f) Homework g) Evaluation sheet h) Closing prayer
Every meeting or formation session should begin and conclude with a moment of prayer. Do not improvise, or speed up, or cut short the time for prayer. On the contrary, try to be creative, even in setting up the environment and planning symbolic gestures. Your prayer should also reflect the cultural flavor or flavors of the members of the group.
There are instructions or suggestions for leaders regarding the various activities. Overheads, posters, chart paper, and if you have the technology, “power point”, can be employed to accomplish the same thing. E.g. the maps required for Units I & II, can be overheads, large wall posters, or power point, but what is important is that the migration patterns become apparent in a very visual way.
Meditation of scriptural text should always be an integral part of the formation session. Encourage each participant to always bring a Bible and to share in the reflection answering to the proposed questions.
The study sessions are the primary resource for the leaders to prepare the formation sessions. The participants could be given the complete or a partial package for later reference or following formation sessions. You will notice that some units are much longer than others and will require several classes to complete.
The purpose of the homework is to invite the participant to further deepen their study of the different themes on a personal level. Most teaching units also offer bibliographical references and supplemental readings. The homework of the previous meeting should always be a starting point for the following session.
Each participant in the formation courses is the primary responsible for his or her formation. Therefore, all the members of the group have the right and the duty to help direct the formation meetings, suggesting new formats, emphasizing certain contents, proposing activities or additional readings. We will treasure the experience of all the participants in order to regularly revise, expand and update the teaching units.
Spiritual and Pastoral Essays
selected from the writings of Blessed J.B. Scalabrini Bishop and Founder
The Scalabrinian Lay Movement, espression of the gift of the Holy Spirit
As expression of the fruitfulness of this gift of the Holy Spirit to today’s Church, the Scalabrinian Lay Missionary Movement flourishes among us. This movement is constituted by persons who unite themselves, in force of the Charism, to the spirituality and to the apostolic life of the Congregation of the Scalabrinians, as members of the same spiritual family who are at the apostolic and missionary service of the neediest of migrants.
Since the beginning of his work for the migrants, John Baptist Scalabrini has the layperson as a lively and active individual. In 1887, when he took his preoccupation for the migrants to the public, he immediately made an appeal saying, “To them, I call the attention of the clergy and the Catholic Laity and of all people of good will.” And concluded by idealizing a helping alternative in affirming that: “the needs of our migrants are of two kinds, moral and material and I should like that an Associazione di Patronato be organized in Italy, which would be both religious and lay and so would be fully responsive to this double need.
Searching for ways in the light of the Spirit, his dream becomes a reality in 1891, as his personal deposition reveals, “it was my intent to create an Association, somewhat like the one established in Germany, in 1868, known as “Raphaels Werein.” The Association had the purpose to defend, through a well organized system of protection, the emigrants against the many dangers surrounding them once they leave their homeland.” “My initiative was met with appreciation and help… and last year, in Piacenza, I constituted the Central Committee of the Associazione di Patronato for the Italian Emigration.”
The Associazione di Patronato, whose Central Committee was constituted in Piacenza, placed under the protection of Saint Raphael received this name. Its purpose was the spiritual and material assistance of the emigrants as we read in its Directives: “The purpose of such a Society was to cooperate to keep alive in the hearts of the Italian emigrants along with their faith, their sense of nationality and their affection for their fatherland, and to bring about the best possible state of moral, religious, physical, intellectual, economic and civic well-being for them.”
The organization of its work revolved around four points that covered moments of the migration journey because they represented difficulties and intense suffering that wounded the dignity and the rights of the migrants: the place of departure; the embarkation ports; the ocean crossing; the debarkation and the arrival at the place of destination.
The spirit and zeal that animated the members of the Saint Raphael Society enlivened itself in a correspondence of the president, general secretary and delegates to the Pope, in 1891, expressing that “in American soil the poor emigrants will meet their priests, their parishes, their schools, their society and their language. Hence they will not be able to exclude themselves from extending the Kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth.”
They conclude saying, “The subscribed humbly ask Your Holiness, to give the paternal approval to the resolutions that these have proposed for the salvation of the souls and for the glory of Holy Mother the Church, in the different American countries.”
(Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Saint Charles Borromeo, THE SCALABRINIAN LAY MISSIONARY MOVEMENT –SLMM)