Inauguration of Casa Scalabrini in Rome: A Choral Display of Welcoming

The opening of Casa Scalabrini, the structure of “second reception” promoted by the Scalabrini Missionaries; Apostolic Elemosineria, the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Migrantes Foundation, was held on Saturday, October 24th, 2015.

The over 150 people who attended the event included representatives of the great Scalabrini Religious Family, volunteers, members of associations working with migrants and refugees, priests from local parishes, as well as representatives of local schools.  V Hall felt a welcome of a distinctly familiar kind, enriched by the contribution of each and everyone joining the network generated by the project. 

The words of Fr. Gianni Borin, regional superior of the Scalabrini missionaries in Europe and Africa began the morning, emphasizing the deliberate action and prophetic vision which led to the opening of a reception center built upon the good practices already utilized in similar circumstances.  Second, there was a detailed presentation by Fr. Fabio Baggio of a project called “Community: Welcoming and Inclusive” (in Italian C.A.I.).  House Scalabrini is an expression of His Excellency, Monsignor Guerino Di Tora, president of the Commission for Migration: the CEI and the Migrantes Foundation, who then took the floor to emphasize the style adopted by Casa Scalabrini; a reception center providing enough space for every guest to express his or her unique culture; allowing one’s richness to spread throughout the house.  In addition, His Excellency, Monsignor Paolo Lojudice, former pastor of St. Luke’s in Largo Preneste, expressed a feeling of “home” in the neighborhood.  Currently auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Rome, he underscored that networking is the key to the success of projects such as this one.  The representatives of the diocesan Pastoral Care of Migration and Caritas were also present through Monsignor Pierpaolo Felicolo and Monsignor Enrico Feroci.  Their inclusion highlighted; on the one hand, that the house is a sign of integration in a multicultural area such as the V Hall; and, on the other, that the Church is at the forefront in the complex host of recent migratory flow issues.

The City of Rome, through the representative of social policies, Francesca Danese, and the V Hall, and Alessandro Rosi, local representative of the same department, illustrates the choral work done in preparing the ground for the opening of Casa Scalabrini; the complexity of the Roman cultural milieu in which it is located, but also the courage to witness not only a dignified welcome, but also respect for the fourteen cultural expressions which coexist there.  Marco Morelli, director of the Center Astalli projects, explained how the positive “team” established with the one from Casa Scalabrini, has given and continues to provide positive results in collaboratively forming a concrete action plan regarding the phenomenon of asylum seekers.

Mohamad Camara, one of the guests, reflected with emotion on the stages of his journey, sharing the sorrows and the hopes of so many people whom he has met over the years.  The gratitude expressed by the style of hospitality manifested in the newly-inaugurated structure was a striking reinforcement of his testimony.  Fr. Sandro Gazzola, superior general of the Scalabrinian Congregation, before revealing the plaque commemorating the day, recalled the words of Blessed Bishop Scalabrini who, in times of the first Italian mass emigration, wondered how to respond and decided to operate “in the network”, connecting the Church and the laity for optimal impact and effectiveness.

A photo gallery of the event is available as an attachment (UCoS – Scalabrinian Communication Office).

Rome 25 October 2015