The Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles – Scalabrinians – is an international community of religious serving migrants and refugees of different cultures, religions and ethnicities in 35 countries and on five continents. The Congregation was founded on November 28, 1887, by Saint John Baptist Scalabrini (1839-1905), bishop of Piacenza (Italy). It was the period of massive emigration from Italy and Europe toward the Americas. It was a far-reaching phenomenon whose importance Bishop Scalabrini was able to grasp in both its social and religious dimensions.
Our province is located in five countries (USA, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador). The provincial office is in Oak Park, Illinois, located just outside Chicago. Our membership comes from 13 countries.
Please click on the maps below to know more about our missions in each country:
Our missionary focus for the last twenty-five years has been to be migrants with the migrants and to be in mission with people on the move along with a special priority for the poorest migrants. What has become very obvious is that as we have taken more missionary risks and made an effort to clarify our Charism we have been blessed with more and more vocations. The blessing is doubled by the fact that we are currently receiving the vocations that match our present need.
John Scalabrini was born at Como in northern Italy on July 8, 1839. He studied for the diocesan priesthood and was ordained in 1863. His first assignment was to teach in Como's diocesan seminary where he soon became rector. Soon after, he was appointed pastor of one of Como's largest parishes. When John Scalabrini was only 36 years old, he was named bishop of Piacenza.
In his less than 30 years as bishop of the city of Piacenza in northern Italy, he had become an international figure. His episcopacy was marked by innovative approaches to religious education, relief services to the victims of epidemics and disasters, political and social involvement for human rights, an abiding concern for migrants of all nationalities and the founding of the Scalabrinian Community.
During his time as bishop he realized that large numbers of Italians were leaving their home country each year in search of a better life in non-European countries. Between 1880 and 1914, some 13 million of Italy's 30 million population were to sail west to North and South America; 28,000 of these came from the Diocese of Piacenza alone. Little or nothing was being done in America to guide and comfort these exiles.
Knowing the needs of the people who had left Italy, Bishop Scalabrini was determined to help them. In 1887 he founded the Missionaries of St. Charles, more commonly known as the Scalabrini Fathers and Brothers, to work among the Italian immigrants of the Americas. In 1895 he founded the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles. By 1904 the Scalabrini priests, brothers and sisters were actively and successfully working among the immigrants in both North and South America. During those years, Bishop Scalabrini was a champion for the Italian immigrants even going so far as to discuss with President Theodore Roosevelt the inhumane treatment of some of the immigrants (which he had witnessed himself).
Bishop Scalabrini died on June 1, 1905. Three weeks before his death he submitted a historic plan to the pope which dealt with immigration policies to be followed regarding immigrants from every country. He begged the Holy Father to set up a department devoted to the needs of all those uprooted. His advice was heeded. Today Scalabrinian priests and brothers and sisters are at work in 30 countries throughout the world.
Bishop Scalabrini was a devout man who had three favorite devotions; the Holy Eucharist, the Blessed Virgin and the popes. He also wrote extensively on the reform of clerical studies and catechetical methods.
Bishop John Scalabrini was proclaimed Blessed by Pope John Paul II in Rome on November 9, 1997, and was canonized by Pope Francis, in Rome on October 9, 2022.
If you want to know more about Saint John Baptist Scalabrini click on the icons below:
Migrantes is a Spanish language publication focused on the shared interest in migration and human mobility in order to provide real perspective to the phenomenon of how and why people move, and the work of Scalabrinian missionaries around the world to assist and help migrants.