“It will be a crossroads for missionaries who will be able to talk, tell their stories, express their dreams, mention the miracles they have performed or have witnessed’ said PIME superior general Fr Brambillasca. The facility covers about 1,200 square metres, built in the old cellars of the motherhouse. It will now have a cultural cafeteria, a bookshop and a theatre (with 15 plays scheduled). For the Centre’s director, it will be a place “to meet and listen to the Milanese.”
Milan (AsiaNews) – The Culture and Missionary Outreach Centre (Centro di cultura e animazione missionaria) of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) reopened officially yesterday morning with a Mass led by the Archbishop of Milan, Mgr Mario Delpini, in Milan, after undergoing renovation.
The service, which saw the participation of thousands of people, was the highlight of a two-day event (14-15 September). For the Archdiocese of Milan, it represented the opening of the extraordinary missionary month decreed by Pope Francis for the autumn of 2019.
During the Eucharistic celebration, the ritual of delivering the crucifix to departing missionaries was held, including three PIME priests and six Sisters of the Immaculate.
Two months ago, PIME Superior General Fr Ferruccio Brambillasca explained in a video (in Italian, see below) what it means, for missionaries devoted to the announcement of the Gospel to foreign peoples, to open a cultural centre in Milan.
"The mission is changing," said Fr Brambillasca, “and our Centre wants to be above all a place that teaches about globalisation, urbanisation, and openness to other peoples and cultures, especially young people. It will be a crossroads for missionaries who will be able to talk, tell their stories, express their dreams, mention the miracles they have performed or have witnessed. In a big city, such stories are hard to come by."
Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr Mario Ghezzi, a missionary in Cambodia for about 20 years who will now head the new PIME centre, wants it to become "a window onto the world in Milan". The large number of people at the inauguration and the presence of civic officials are evidence of the central role it can play in the life of the city.
"Yesterday activities began with a greeting to the authorities, including deputy mayor, a representative of the Lombardy Region, and the vice president of the Cariplo Foundation. This was followed by the Mass with several bishops (PIME and diocesan), the vicar general of Milan, a hundred priests from different religious congregations and about 1,500 worshippers.
“At the end of the service, we had lunch. In addition to nearly 150 guests of honour, just over a thousand people shared the meal. Throughout the day, the PIME courtyard welcomed a total of 2,000 visitors."
The new PIME Centre covers some 1,200 square metres at 81 Via Monte Rosa, Milan. The renovation of the cultural and missionary centre included expanding the old cellars of PIME’s motherhouse, a building where the General Directorate relocated this year from Rome.
The facility will be open to the public from Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 8 pm and will host exhibitions, book launches, plays, initiatives for young people and families, proposals related to the solidarity economy. Among the additions, the PIME Centre now has a bookshop and a store selling fair trade goods.
In the cultural cafeteria it will be possible to hear PIME 450 missionaries from various countries tell their stories. The Peoples and Culture Museum (Museo Popoli e Culture) was also renovated and reorganised with visitors now able to use multimedia and view more than 200 artifacts from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
For the Centre’s director, its “opening represents PIME's attempt to open a place where the people of Milan can visit, spend time and get to know the missionaries. We want to meet and listen to the Milanese and, at the same time, let the city listen to what our priests have to say.
“The proposals offered by the Centre are varied. We have small, medium and large spaces for all sorts cultural events: small concerts, presentations, conferences. We are also equipped for mini-conferences during the lunch break, so that local workers can take advantage of this important moment in the working day to hear meaningful words. For the first time, we will also offer a theatre season with 15 plays.
"In addition to four priests, the Centre has 50 employees, plus several volunteers. Working with other associations is still in the future. By opening this Centre, we expect to boost our work and we are open to proposals from anyone who wants to support us."