Agenzia Fides REPORT – “We must not see migrants exclusively as receivers of evangelization, but as agents of it as well. Our Founder himself, from the beginning, saw migration of Catholics as a providential instrument in God’s plan to spreading the Gospel. Our ministry will be effective only if we transform migrants in a community that evangelizes,” writes Father Sérgio O. Geremia, Superior General for the Missionaries of San Carlo (Scalabrinians), in his letter of 25 January, a copy of which was sent to Fides. The letter outlined the stages of the proposed path for this year on the theme “Community that evangelizes”.
The Superior General recalls in the letter that “the Church has received by Jesus the mandate to continue his mission throughout the centuries (Mt 28:19).” and the Holy Spirit raised up men and women who took the commitment to heart to bring the message of God’s love to specific groups of poor and marginalized.
“They too gathered around themselves other people who made their own their zeal and committed themselves to evangelizing, not as individual, but as structured communities, giving thus origin to various Religious Congregations.” Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini “identified a category of poor people that had not received as yet proper attention by the Church — the migrants. The thought that they might 'lose, for a totally material life, the faith of their fathers' urged him, as a Bishop full of zeal, to act. The Congregation he founded committed itself from its initiation to that which Blessed Pope John Paul II defined as the “new evangelisation... addressed primarily to those who already have the gift of faith. The latter, being transplanted in a non-familiar cultural environment, are in danger either of disregarding their faith, because they do not find the proper soil to grow in it, or of losing it altogether, because they immerse themselves into advancing as fast as they can their economic situation.”
After stating that “in our Congregation, wherever we are, whatever role we are entrusted with, and whatever activity we are carrying out, we are all called to evangelize,” Fr Sérgio Geremia dwelled on “some aspects of evangelization, specifically Scalabrinian”: First and foremost, “No Christian ever evangelizes as an individual on his own, but always as a member of a community.” Secondly, “we cannot be Scalabrinians who evangelize migrants unless we know the world of migrants—their culture, their needs, their concerns and their aspirations.” Migrants cannot be considered simply as receivers of evangelisation “but as agents of it as well.” The collaboration of the laity, volunteers and professionals who work inside and outside the migrant community is vital. Finally, since the phenomenon of migration is continually changing, the Superior General emphasised: “our Congregation is, consequently, called to continually revise its structures, positions and pastoral methods.... We must be open to the signs of the time and be always creative in renewing and even abandoning our positions and pastoral forms, although acquired at times with unbounded sacrifices, and in resorting to new ones.”