Based in a Former Arsenal
VATICAN CITY, 3 JULY 2006 (ZENIT)
Here is the description of the
Sermig which appears in the Directory of International Associations of
the Faithful, published by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
* * *
Official name: Sermig
History: Sermig (Servizio Missionario Giovani
Missionary service of young people) was founded by Ernesto Olivero with
his wife and some young people at the Turin Diocesan Missionary Office
as a missionary support group, to eliminate the scourge of hunger in the
world "which could feed 30 billion or 40 billion people, instead of
allowing 30,000 to starve to death every day."
In the heated years of the student protest movement in the 1960s, the
group did not allow themselves to be overwhelmed by angry political
denunciations. They developed the conviction that Jesus Christ is
enough, and that the Gospel does not need to beg from ideologies to find
the vital seeds for changing the world.
With the encouragement of Cardinal Michele Pellegrino, then the
archbishop of Turin, and Giorgio La Pira, a key figure in its history,
Sermig began to change from being merely a working group to become a
community of life, basing its commitment on the meeting with God through
prayer, dialogue with his Word, and "giving back" to our poor brethren
our surplus time, professionalism, cultural, material and spiritual
goods, for their development and to safeguard their dignity.
In 1983, Sermig was given the Turin military arsenal, a decommissioned
weapons factory, restructured with the help of thousands of people
(professionals, engineers, architects, building companies), which is now
called the Arsenal of Peace and House of Hope for the disinherited.
In 1997, the commitment of the members of Sermig to be peace- and
hope-builders was sealed by the twinning with the Sacred Convent of St.
Francis in Assisi, emphasizing the desire to share the spiritual legacy
of St. Francis.
Identity: Sermig came into being as a group of young people wishing to
help the poor, and aims to provide education for young people in the
values of solidarity, justice and peace, giving particular attention to
early childhood and to abandoned youths.
The heart of Sermig is the fraternity, structured into small communities
of men and women, married and single, living in contact with the
problems of the people, and whose spirituality is rooted in the Word of
God as the foundation, in prayer as the vital lifeblood, in hope as the
charism, and in "restitution" as the gift of self in deep communion with
Some of them feel a particular call to abandon everything, and after a
period of preparation make unconditional pledges to live according to a
"rule" or "proposal of life" inspired by Mary's "fiat"; they live
celibacy in fraternity; they live in the Arsenals of Peace and become
officials of the association, also in legal terms.
Sermig pursues its purposes by setting up structures for specific
purposes, conducting peace missions, and organizing weeklong courses.
Organization: Sermig's organizational chart comprises the Assembly of
Members, which meets once a year and decides on the work of the
fraternity, and appoints the council; the fraternity council, which has
the function of governing, and is made up of between five and seven
members, including the president, the vice president, the treasurer, and
the secretary; the ecclesiastical adviser; the board of elders; and
board of auditors.
Membership of the association is open to full members, who are persons
that have undergone formation with a formal commitment, and to associate
Membership: Sermig, which has 52 full members and 176 associate members,
is present in three countries, in Europe, the Middle East and South
America. Some 6,000 volunteers also support its activities.
Works: In addition to the Arsenal of Peace in Turin, Sermig also manages
the Arsenal of Hope in Sao Paulo in Brazil, and the Arsenal of Encounter
in Amman, Jordan.
It promotes development and emergency relief activities in Italy and
abroad, entrusted to the CIS (International Development Cooperative) and
the RE-TE (Technological Restitution) Group.
It has established the Centri come noi as night shelters for the
deprived, residential homes for people in difficulty who wish to change
their lives, and medical centers for people who are unable to use the
National Health Service. Its educational work for young people includes
the Sound Laboratory and the School for Restorers.
Publication: Nuovo Progetto, monthly
Web site: www.sermig.org
Arsenale della Pace
Piazza Borgo Dora, 61
Tel. (39) 011.436.8566
© Copyright 2006
Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]