In Brescia, the “responsibility of families” in the face of the influx of refugees

By Jerome Gautheret

Posted today at 2:30 p.m.

In Brescia, all roads lead to the church. Admittedly, here too, the places of worship are gradually emptying, but the phenomenon does not prevent this Lombard city often described as “Rome of the North” from cultivating an original form of social Catholicism, very integrated into local life. Also, on March 6, it seemed quite natural to the chief of police of Brescia to call Father Dominico, whose parish of Saints Capitanio and Gerosa is facing the questorship, to ask him for help in the reception of Ukrainian refugees.

This dynamic 38-year-old priest with a somewhat shy air, the youngest in the diocese of Brescia, immediately took the problem head on, offering both his premises and the indispensable support of the faithful of his parish. “It’s a moment of lived charity”he summarizes with a smile, while a swarm of volunteers is busy around him. “Father Dominico called me on Monday morning, asking me to come and see what was going on at the oratorio. I had to work, but I decided to take a ride. And it was so strong… I took my day, and I never managed to leave. Since then, I come every day, whenever I can”confides Tiziana, a faithful of the parish, while she gives herself a few minutes of break and that around her, dozens of families wait, waiting for the first formalities.

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Father Dominico, from the parish of Saints Capitanio and Gerosa in Brescia, Italy, March 15, 2022.

Inside the foyer, between the billiard table and the ping-pong table, tables have been set up, and the teams from the Civil Ospedale of Brescia have settled down with the computers to issue the newcomers with a provisional health registration, prior to necessary for most administrative requests. Outside, next to the sports grounds, another queue: that of arrivals who must undergo a Covid test – Ukrainians having a very low vaccination rate, the risk of seeing new outbreaks of contagion is a constant fear of local authorities. Between the two, the volunteers try to deal with the most urgent, according to the needs of the arrivals. In the morning, we offer breakfasts, at noon hot meals… “Today is pretty quiet. But in the beginning there were very hard times, says Tiziana. The families who arrive here have almost all left a husband, a father or a brother in Ukraine, and they all want to go back. The first thing refugees ask us for is Wi-Fi, because they want news.”she explains.

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