Last week, the Rome Global Gateway and Casa Scalabrini 634 kicked off their new Community-Based Learning partnership with an introductory visit. The visit included a background of the center, facilities tour, and resident testimony. Students gathered on-site to learn how to contribute to the mission of Casa Scalabrini 634, by “promot[ing] the culture of encounter, welcoming, and integration among refugees, migrants, and the local community through dialogue and human relationships.”
Casa Scalabrini 634 provides a rich site for the combination of service and reflective learning about migration. Casa Scalabrini 634, a program of Agenzia Scalabriniana per la Cooperazione allo Sviloppo (ASCS), is run by the Missionaries of St. Charles - Scalabrinians who have been ministering to migrants for over 130 years in 32 countries. Though the CBL collaboration in Rome is new, the University’s relationship to Scalabrinian missions is longstanding. According to General Director Brother Gioacchino Campese CS, the University of Notre Dame began partnering with Casa del Migrante in Tijuana, Mexico, a Scalabrinian shelter for migrants, in 2002. The collaboration started with an international conference on migration and theology, organized with Fr. Daniel Groody at the University of Notre Dame in 2004. Campese was happy to extend this partnership to Rome. “When Fr. Groody told me about the opportunity to continue the work on migration here in Rome with the Notre Dame Global Gateway, I considered it just as a natural extension of what we started almost two decades ago on the other side of the ocean,” reflects Campese.
Casa Scalabrini 634 opened in 2015 as an answer to the call of Pope Francis during his visit to Centro Astalli, the Jesuit Refugee Service in Italy: “Each one of you refugees who knock on our doors has the face of God and is the body of Christ.” As a result, migrants and refugees are welcomed to Casa Scalabrini 634 to live, work, and learn together for six months to a year, with the goals of integration and autonomy. 130 people who have passed through Casa Scalabrini 634 now live in full autonomy. To help break down barriers and create a harmonious, cohesive community, Casa Scalabrini 634 opens its doors and events to the entire neighborhood. “It’s about all of us. We are all the same. We are one community,” states Communications and Fundraising Manager, Marianna Occhiuto.
Over the next few months, students will support weekly English language courses and join guests and volunteers in monthly neighborhood restoration outings. To conclude the semester, the entire Casa Scalabrini 634 community will come together for an evening of fellowship and food. During the recent visit, Occhiuto highlighted the importance of mutual relationship building through this collaboration: “It’s about people. Remember, many of these people are about your age. Maybe they just have a different story.”
Students are looking forward to participating and becoming part of the Casa Scalabrini 634 community. Maggie Dosch ’21 hopes to get to know the individuals who call Casa home: “It’s about making relationships and connections with people. That really stuck with me. It’s extremely impactful.”
The staff at Casa Scalabrini 634 hope that students leave with a different perspective on human mobility and migration, understanding the centrality of global migration, comparing their U.S. context to the Italian context relative to migration, learning to work with international partners, and personally experiencing how essential each aspect (welcoming, protecting, promoting, and integrating) is for the present and future of communities and societies. “I am happy to be part of this new chapter of the partnership between the Scalabrinians and the University of Notre Dame. A friendship that started 18 years ago has been providential and the seeds sown during this time have grown and will continue to give good fruits for the well-being of migrants and refugees and indeed of all the people involved in this journey,” states Campese.
Learn more about Outreach & Engagement opportunities at the Rome Global Gateway.