Card. Parolin visits Italy-China House (photo)
The social reality was born in 2002 in the Rimini area. Volunteering and hospitality are the dimensions of this structure, which welcomes young Chinese and volunteers of all kinds to teach languages, and offer after school activities of various kinds. The joy of meeting with the Vatican Secretary of State, who says: "I hope to finish my days in this place".
Rimini (AsiaNews) - In 2002 Liu, a twenty-five year old, barefoot, fleeing Slovenia with a debt of 10 thousand euros, after having traveled the Balkan route, met with the Community of Montetauro in Rimini. Accompanied by the carabinieri, he denounced some of his compatriots who exploited him to pay off the debt for the trip.
The brothers of the Little Family of the Assumption were confronted with a world unknown to them, the Chinese world, to which they reached out. Soon the Community realized that integration is not easy, talking about it and living it, especially for Chinese children among their peers, who barely know the Italian language and have difficulties in understanding.
Thus in 2003 the first Italy-China House was born in Savignano sul Rubicone , with Liu, who decided to start the journey to become a Christian, who was baptized, got married and started a new life in Rimini.
In January 2016 a second branch opened, this time however in the parish of San Nicolò in Rimini near the station (historic parish where Don Oreste Benzi began his priestly ministry). At the beginning few children took part, four or five, but then the number grew thanks to Italian volunteers and not only.
volunteers such as Cosimo, a Chinese who has lived for years in Rimini and started working as a cultural mediator in support of Italian volunteers. Don Savio, a Chinese Catholic priest who fled from China because he had a group of eighty young people who followed him and the authorities made him understand that for him there could be no place in the great Asian country.
This group becomes a fundamental means to preserve an enormous cultural richness, and in the path of formation of the identity of the child. Mattia, instead, brother of the Montetauro community, like other Italians, teaches Italian.
In a short time, through word of mouth among Chinese families, the numbers have grown and confidence: so much so they have created an after-school program during the school year, from 14.30 to 17.30 and a summer center from 09.00 to 12.00. There are also extracurricular activities, such as dancing for girls or teaching some sports, including basketball for children. Also this year the summer camp will end in August with its 110 little members.
This reality could not be hidden from the Vatican Secretary of State, Card. Pietro Parolin, who arrived in the premises of San Nicolò on Monday 14 July. In crossing the threshold he was immediately welcomed by volunteers and children. After visiting the premises of the parish, the school and the theater, he began to ask many questions about the birth of this reality with great astonishment .
Visiting the tables where elementary school children or middle and high school kids do their homework, he tried to ask and repeat some Chinese names, then sit in the theater to watch a small ballet of Chinese dance that the little girls prepared.
Soon the tour moved upstairs, to a room where together we drank tea with biscuits among all the volunteers, discussing the problems and persecutions that the Chinese Church still suffers today.
Certainly Card. Parolin reminds Pope Francis of the Chinese question and everything that happens in the Far East. We talk about education and hospitality, and how happy families are in a Catholic place like this that welcomes everyone and cares for their children, regardless of whether they are Christians or not.
We had prepared ourselves for a flash visit by the Secretary of State, we had been told a maximum of half an hour, but then looking at the clock, time stopped. In fact, after an hour and a half between final greetings and photos, the bishop took his leave for Viserba for the celebration of Holy Mass together with the Bishop of Rimini, Monsignor Francesco Lambiasi. Before leaving, however, he says to the Community and to the work of Italy-China House: "I hope one day to be able to finish my days in this place".
* Seminarist of the Diocese of Rimini, assistant to the parish of San Nicola