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ITALY: Salesians open doors to share meal with community

Basilica of San Giovanni Bosco provides Boxing Day lunch for those in poverty

ITALY

(MissionNewswire) On Boxing Day, celebrated on Dec. 26, the Basilica of San Giovanni Bosco in Rome becomes a canteen for those living in conditions of poverty. Salesians open their doors and share lunch with people who are poor and live in the area. This initiative is strengthened by past experiences that the La Goccia Association, which operates at the parish Caritas center of Don Bosco, has been offering for more than two decades.

Most recently, the parish welcomed more than 120 people including volunteers and others from nine local parishes. Father Roberto Colameo, parish priest, said, “The initiative becomes the sign of a collaboration that has spread throughout the territory to meet the needs related to the pandemic and that is played out in a larger portion of the territory, which goes beyond the borders of individual parishes in unity and strength.”

Maurizio Pisano, head of the parish Caritas and a member of La Goccia Association, explained,
“They are people we follow all year round. Either they have no fixed abode or they experience severe economic hardship. Everyone offers something of themselves. There are those who tell jokes, those who sing, and those who play. We are together and have a family day.”

All this would not be possible without the commitment and dedication of those who volunteer their time, according to Fr. Colameo. He added, “Thanks go to the volunteers, who did not hesitate to leave their family and their comforts to provide service and support in organizing this meal.”

Poverty rose sharply in 2020 to its highest level in 15 years as the COVID-19 crisis brought economic challenges for much of Italy. Close to 5.6 million people or 9.4 percent of the population are living in absolute poverty unable to buy goods or services to achieve a minimally acceptable standard of living, according to the World Bank. This number includes 1.3 million minors.

Salesian programs across Italy help youth who are unable to attend school and others who drop out to work at the few jobs available to them. A growing number of children work as laborers on farms and others have turned to the sex trade to help support their families. Those in poverty often live without adequate shelter, hot water, regular meals and health care.

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Sources:

ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)

ANS – Italy – At Christmas, the Don Bosco Basilica in Rome becomes a soup kitchen for the poor

Basilica of San Giovanni Bosco

Salesian Missions – Italy

World Bank – Italy

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