The counselling centre, also known as service of hospitality is located in the church of «Santa Maria della luce» in Rome. It came into existence in 2010 as an integral part of the Latin American mission and continues to this day to be such. It was organized in order to meet the needs of the Latin Americans belonging to all ethnic groups, taking into account that, in the Church of Rome, there are counselling centres for persons of different nations. The service is carried forward, thanks to the collaboration of sisters of different religious Institutes who offer assiduously their precious time with love, thoughtfulness, remarkable availability and great missionary passion. All through the history of the Centre, many persons have laboured with commitment and enthusiasm without giving up. Thanks to the Institutes for the possibility they have given to some of their sisters to render this service and to the sisters for their availability to listen to every person with economic, social and health problems, in particular the difficulty in getting oneself inserted into a new cultural situation.
At present we are ten, coming from seven communities. We have the support and collaboration of Fr Franco, the present chaplain of the Latin American Catholic mission. We carry out this service, however not without difficulties, but with joy of being able to contribute to the service of migration in the Church of Rome.
With a ‘initial reception’ that is open to all the counseling center intends to welcome the migrants coming from Latin America and later on attention is given for those who are in search of a work. It offers a service of listening, dialogue and human and spiritual accompaniment. It is continually verified that the emerging priority need is that of survival: to improve and make the standard of life more dignified, help and sustain the children and families who have remained back in their respective countries. Carrying on this service needs a knowledge of how to listen to difficulties pertaining to family, social integration, growth in the life of faith and direct the persons to search ways and means that could be of help to them.
Therefore, We become ever more aware of the importance of listening as the fundamental and deep human need and the privileged place of evangelization and it is an experience that enriches us. The centre of counselling becomes a true school of life, where one learns from every migrant we meet. We admire their courage in overcoming difficulties thinking of their families who are far away. This service poses some challenges that scarcely find a solution especially when the persons present themselves without a house, work, in a clandestine situation (today much of it is overcome), and in addition lack of knowledge of Italian language makes interpersonal relations difficult. Another challenge is the continuous increase of influx of persons in need of attention, in precarious conditions of life and, at the same time, respect for demands of the present Italian legislation. These and other difficulties accompany us even now in the fulfilment of our mission. Nevertheless it is necessary to do in such a way that these our brothers and sisters may be able to experience through words and gestures, a true welcome, attentive listening and a sense of hope.
As far as the sisters who are dedicated to counselling and their method of work, it is possible to see an assiduous commitment and a desire to make this form of evangelization evermore efficacious. In this service, we are called to communicate trust, welcome, protection, help towards integration of persons. The motivation that encourages and sustains us is the love of Jesus that invites us to manifest his mercy and compassion in the world of today, as the Gospel and our Constitutions indicate. The fact of being able to speak the same language of majority of persons whom we meet and the knowledge of socio-political situation of Latin America from where they come help us.
We are happy for what we are able to give and receive through this humble service. We consider our experience positive because carried out with the Church and as Church, and for the hope that we kindle in the persons. Therefore, we reconfirm our desire to be guided by the criteria of Jesus, by the words of pope Francis and by whatever the Church teaches. With a true ecclesial sense we desire to expand our hands to welcome those who knock at our door, announcing to all that God is love and he never abandons us.
Sr. Teresa Nunes