The Australian branch of a lay movement with its roots in the 16th century was launched in Perth last week by the global leader of an order looking after orphans, the sick, and those afflicted by physical and spiritual poverty.
Fr Franco Moscone CRS, Superior General of the Clerics Regular of Somasca addressed a gathering of around 150 people at St Jerome’s Church, Spearwood on March 27.
Fr Moscone spoke about the movement’s founder, St Jerome Emiliani, a former soldier who gathered laypeople and priests together to form the Servants of the Poor, caring for orphans, the sick, and women trapped in prostitution.
Speaking to The Record earlier this week, shortly before returning to Italy, Fr Moscone said the Somascan founder was committed to reforming the Church, starting not with people in the “higher classes”, but with the poor.
Poverty, however, was not a concept restricted only to economic circumstances, but included the difficult existential realities confronting lay people in developed countries, as well as developing, countries.
“Jesus in the Gospel spoke of the poor as being always with us in society. There is no society without the poor,” Fr Moscone said.
“There are many aspects of poverty. Here in Australia economic poverty would certainly exist but other aspects of poverty too – people who are alone, who live without motivation or without being able to make sense of it.
“I think our charism may help people to open their eyes to others, to their brothers and sisters.
“Even here, in this rich country, exist people who need our presence, who need our help, our heart, and our work. This, I think is our gift to this church, to help believers to open their hearts and walk to their neighbours with help.”
Members of the movement will receive monthly formation in Somascan spirituality and will work towards common charitable goals while growing into a genuine community of Christian believers.
The Somascan congregation has survived three attempted suppressions throughout its history, during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, and during the unification of Italy in the mid-19th century.
Until 1928, the order only existed in Italy but has subsequently spread throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
The Somascan Order has been entrusted with looking after two Perth parishes, in Spearwood and Rockingham.
More information about the Somascan Lay Movement is available at [email protected].