Superior General‘s speech welcoming the Holy Father


Fr. Leonir Chiarello c.s., Superior General of The Missionaries of Saint Charles - Scalabrinians.

Holy Father

Our Scalabrinian Family is pleased that you have given us this opportunity to thank you personally, along with the Dioceses of Piacenza and Como and the migrant communities we work with, for the grace of proclaiming John Baptist Scalabrini a saint. It was a great joy for us!.

"May I make myself a saint." This was a frequent expression in John Baptist Scalabrini's intentions. And Scalabrini did not consider holiness as something impossible to achieve. "What formed the most illustrious saints were not extraordinary gifts, luminous apparitions, amazing miracles. It was the fidelity with which they fulfilled the duties of their state and fulfilled them in view of God. Here is the true, essential character of holiness."

You recently reminded us, "Holiness sprouts from the concrete life of Christian communities. Saints do not come from a 'parallel world'." Let us say, Holy Father, that many times, listening to you, we seem to hear Scalabrini's voice. Particularly when you talk about migrants.

Yesterday you left us with a question, "Today we think of our migrants, those who die and those who are able to enter: do we receive them as brothers or do we exploit them?" St. John Baptist Scalabrini looked at the migrants of his time to the "thousands of our brothers who live almost without defense of the distant homeland, the object of bullying too often unpunished without the comfort of a friendly word," and concluded, "I confess, the flush of redness rises in my face, I feel humiliated in my quality of priest and citizen." After your question and remembering the words of our holy founder and inspirer, we should feel our minds and hearts touched even more. Even more, after canonization, we must be able to blush when we see our migrant brothers and sisters exploited and humiliated.

Therefore, besides being for us a reason for joy, the canonization of John Baptist Scalabrini is a responsibility for us. The responsibility to allow ourselves to be moved, so as not to become victims of the indifference that characterizes so much of our time. The responsibility then not to have a sterile emotion, but an active one that becomes a capacity to remedy the injustices we see. The responsibility to sensitize society and governments so that they do not close themselves in the selfishness that leads to exclusion, that exclusion that, as you told us yesterday, becomes "criminal exclusion" because it leads migrants to die before our eyes. In this perspective, responsibility is converted into co-responsibility with governments, international bodies, civil society organizations and the Church. The responsibility to be humbly at the service of the Church, the Church that is our Mother. Saint Scalabrini said, "Let us look into the face of our Mother and be ashamed of having done so little for her so far."

Above all, after canonization we must feel more strongly the responsibility to become saints and that is, as you teach us, to have "first of all the experience of being loved by God, of freely receiving his love, his mercy." We pray that the joy we experienced yesterday will not be the excitement of a day, "but the certainty that we can face everything with the grace and boldness that come from God." The audacity to be able to face the challenges that the world of human mobility sets before us knowing that we are guided by a holy Founder who, even in the dramas of his time, knew how to have the foresight of the man of faith, the foresight to understand that "the Providence that presides over human destinies, guides them, even through catastrophes, toward the goal, which is the perfecting of man on earth and the glory of God in heaven."

We feel comforted, in our mission, knowing that the Holy Father is pointing us to the safe path today, as it was pointed out in his time by Saint Scalabrini, who, writing to Pius X, said that he had seen "the faith die out in millions of souls for lack of spiritual nourishment" and concluded that "it is urgent to provide and that it is a grave error, not to say a fault, of all of us in charge of the government of the Church to allow this state of affairs to be prolonged." These are the words of the Memorial written to the Pope calling for intervention by the universal Church for all migrants. They are the words we humbly leave as a gift to you, along with our prayers, as we invoke your apostolic blessing on the Scalabrinian Family, on the communities of migrants, refugees and sailors among whom we work, and on all those of good will who share the mission the Lord has entrusted to us.

Rome, Oct 10th, 2022.
P. Leonir Chiarello, cs
Superior General

scalabrinian spirituality 2023


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