Rome parish aids Latino migrants affected by coronavirus pandemic
Fr. Luis Gabriel Martín, a Scalabrinian, works in this parish. The Diocese of Rome entrusted it to his congregation to attend to the needs of Latin American migrants.
He explains he has seen an increase in the number of families in need since the pandemic hit.
FR. LUIS GABRIEL
Pastor Santa Maria della Luce
“I was struck by the people coming three and four months ago. They practically got off the plane and after two or three days, they found themselves dealing with quarantine, which was difficult. These new arrivees found themselves locked down for various reasons. Others were dealing with even harder situations such as unemployment, and the lockdown affected them even more.”
As needs for these migrants increase, so has aid within the community. Fr. Luis Gabriel was helped out by young volunteers, like Silvina. She previously worked in a hotel, until it was forcefully closed down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now she organizes the parish's clothing donations.
“Around 10 people have already come by. They found out that they could pick up some clothes for themselves, for their spouse and for their children. They came to find these items and we collectively helped with the dynamic of the distribution."
This group of Colombian youth also lends a hand to Fr. Luis Gabriel. Andrés came to Italy for academic reasons, but Jaime and Michael came to find jobs. They all assemble food bags.
"They have pasta, tomato sauce, rice and beans. Now they are also giving diapers, a little bit of everything. I met the priest in December 2019 and he was dealing with all this. We offered to volunteer and now that we are closer to the church, it is even easier for us to come and give him a hand.”
In order to help all those in need, the parish relies on the means of the Scalabrinians, whose charisma is focused on aiding migrants.
In this parish, Latin Americans feel at home. They can pray to their patrons, saints or Marian devotions from any country, and feel close to home. This includes representations of St. Oscar Romero, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, Aparecida in Brazil, or the Lord of Miracles in Peru.