The Archives of a Congregation are meant to keep its living memory and to be a witness to the faithfulness of its missionaries to its history and to the incarnation of its Charism. Each Province, in turn, has its own Archives, where all the documents related to the presence of the Congregation in a given area are kept, along with all that regards the missionaries and the works.
When the bishop Giovanni Battista Scalabrini dies on June 1, 1905, the responsibility of leading the congregation of the Scalabrinian missionaries is shortly assumed by Father Domenico Vicentini. Superior general from 1905 to 1919, he has before him the difficult task of giving spiritual assistance and support to the large number of Italians who disembarked in America.
Father Giovanni Terragni, head of the General Archive of the Scalabrinian Congregation, tells the story of this trial and of the man called to face it.
Our missionary’s correspondence – Matteo Sanfilippo states in his closing comments – is a testimony to his immense efforts and sacrifices, made even harder by his inability to put up with those who did not share his dreams ( … ) a heroic witness of a major transition, when the opportunity to help migrants and to overcome all nationalism was sought and, finally, with much effort, found.
Fr. Giovanni Terragni restores the sharp and outspoken style of Fr. Colbacchini, who for nearly two decades struggled to defend the Italians in the Brazilian States of São Paulo , Paraná and Río Grande do Sul.
Due to his extensive missionary travels, Fr. Angelo deserves to be remembered and counted among the Scalabrini Missionaries of the first hour, who have realized in their missionary lives the Founder’s desire to set up a group of “flying missionaries”, who were to leave periodically their residence and travel to remote areas to reach the largest possible number of emigrant countrymen.
The text gathers Fr. Chiariglione’s correspondence (1831-1908) and brings to the fore once more the biographical outline Fr. Mario Francesconi published in six episodes in the vocation promotion newsletter ” Ragazzi in gamba “, from 1971 to 1972.
Fr. Terragni’s book on the institutional aspects of the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles for the emigrants, in addition to retracing earlier studies on the history of the Institute, it represents also a novel approach. The book is made up of two distinct and yet interconnected parts. The first, almost a premise, provides a key to understanding the personality of Msgr. J.B. Scalabrini, Bishop of Piacenza from 1876 to 1905, Founder of the two Congregations of the Missionary Fathers and Brothers and the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles.
The second, and central, part deals more specifically with the issue of the institutional aspects of the Scalabrinian Congregation, as drawn up and actualized by the Founder through an ongoing interchange with Propaganda Fide. The purpose of the book is to show, particularly, on the basis of documents, the complex process Scalabrini undertook to structure the Congregation of the Missionaries in such a way as to make it, with the active collaboration of the laity, a functional instrument in providing religious and social assistance to emigrants in the age of mass migration.
The constant reference to the foundational and original structure, as an integral part of the Institute’s Charism, is particularly important today, not only for its historical retrospective, but especially as a driving force and guarantor of renewal in the spirit of fidelity.