“I have yet to complete my quarantine, before I can head back to Como” Bl. Scalabrini
Fr. Peter Polo, CS
ON FACING COVID19 PANDEMIC: Reminiscing the Experience of Blessed Scalabrini in Moments of Plague
Faced with the current pandemic, we draw inspiration from our Founder. In 1867, only four years after his ordination, as he was doing summer ministry in the parish of Portichetto, near his hometown, he found himself assisting the victims of a cholera epidemic. Within a couple of months close to fifty people died in the parish; we are told that “out of about sixty elderly people, only about ten survived”. Before he could return to his work in the diocesan seminary, Scalabrini was quarantined and on that occasion the Government awarded him with a medal of honor. He used the quarantine to catch up with his correspondence, to keep in touch with friends, to study and to pray.
As our Superior General reminds us in his recent Lenten letter, Bishop Scalabrini, had to face another cholera epidemic, which threatened his own diocese of Piacenza in 1884 and 1885. He then recommended to the faithful to follow the "praiseworthy prescriptions adopted by those who are responsible for the public good, to which we urge you to correspond exactly.”
Our Superior General continues: today, we, missionaries for the migrants, although forced to accept “the immobility imposed on us, must not be led to immobility in our missionary instinct.” “On the contrary, it is an opportunity to increase our pastoral creativity,” to generate initiatives and, especially, to take time to deepen our knowledge of our Founder and to imitate him in our prayer life and in our pastoral and humanitarian commitment. Many (religious and lay people) are already doing that at the risk of their own lives. Christ is working through them.
This has been an unprecedented Lenten Season, and those who are suffering the most in the present pandemic are the poor and the poorest of migrants. They have no backup; often alone, they have no one to rely on. Simply put: they have nowhere to go, no one to turn to. This is when our ministry as Scalabrinians must become creative. We may need to scratch our head, but more so we will need to scratch our conscience.
This is the only way Easter will become not simply an annual date or a liturgical feast, but an experience of spiritual and social regeneration.
God bless us all.