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Missionaries are artisans of peace and run schools and soup kitchens, work in the dispensaries, rekindle hope in slums and shanty towns.

The Josephites of St L. Murialdo, in more than 100 years, reached about fifteen countries of the world, spurred by their passion for the Gospel and for mankind. To this endeavour they committed their whole life and energies of mind, hearth and... arms, up to pay, not infrequently, their faithfulness even with their lives.

The commitment of the Congregation in the missions is quite long, since already in the First Regulations it is present the will to go beyond the boundaries of its motherland, even if this desire will be fulfilled only in 1904, with the sending of the first missionaries to Bengasi, in Libya.

On the footsteps of the first missionaries who left for North Africa, Fr. Girolamo Apolloni, Br. Maurizio Costa and Br. Carlo Alunno hundreds of other Josephites then crossed, along the years, boundaries, seas and oceans, in order to bring the Gospel to the four corners of the world:

• on December 1st, 1914, Fr. Oreste Tromben and Fr. Giuseppe Longo leave from Genoa towards Brazilian lands;

• in 1922 Fr. Emilio Cecco and Fr. Giorgio Rossi sail from the same harbour to reach the Apostolic Vicariate of Napo (Ecuador), while

• in 1933 another group of missionaries arrives in Tripoli to start an agricultural school.

At the time difficulties were mainly about logistics: it was always quite dangerous to travel in the deserts or the forests, to cross seas or rivers, and add also tropical diseases, without forgetting the need to get food and learn the local language.

But difficulties do not hinder the missionary élan of the Congregation, and new fields of ministry open in other countries of the world:

- Argentina in 1936,

- Chile in 1947,

- United States in 1949,

- Spain in 1961,

- Sierra Leone in 1979,

- Colombia in 1983,

- Guinea Bissau in 1984,

- Mexico in 1990,

- Albania (where Fr. Ettore Cunial will be murdered) in 1996,

- Romania and India in 1998,

- Ghana in 1999.

The real challenge of the missionaries is always to inculturate the Gospel in the life of the people, and incarnate the message of salvation in daily life, being very careful not to impose it and not to present it as something coming from far away. They are always ready, for these reasons, to pay attention and respect to the local culture, making good use of the customs of the area in the liturgy and the education of youths.

But, lastly, not a few problems came and made more difficult the missionaries’ work. Globalization increased the offer of information, but comparison with the Western civilisation and consumerism propagated together with it. In the Third World Countries the latter is a source not only of thefts and robberies, but also of frustration and depression. In Africa and Latin America it is also very serious the problem of sects that, exploiting the ignorance of people and their desire for happiness, have a large following, promising illusory and near-at-hand happiness.

In every Country where the Congregation is present, particular problems are added to the global ones: in Sierra Leone the missionaries have to “rebuild” the people frightened by the cruelty of a long civil war; in Argentina they come up against poverty and unemployment of the big cities; in Colombia against drug dealing and guerrilla.

Another element in common is the corruption of the governments, which provokes enormous difficulties for clearing the containers with help materials, obtaining an authorization, bringing to the people the resources to which they have right.

But St L. Murialdo said: to new problems let us find new solutions.

The Final Document of the XXI General Chapter of the Congregation (2006) reasserts it: “We see with joy and we encourage the commitment and dedication of confreres and laity in mission territories, the growth of missionary consciousness within the Congregation, the opening of new fronts of evangelization and human promotion in poor Countries of the world and in the suburbs of the big urban centres”.

So the Josephites are ready to take up the new challenges which the modern world will issue to their passion for the Gospel and for mankind.

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