A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH
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.
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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 the Church.
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 members.
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
10152 Torino — Italy
Tel. (39) 011.436.8566 — Fax 011.521.5571
© Copyright 2006 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]
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