Donner la vie, donner envie

Solothurn (CH)
from Béatrice Panaro
Life testimonies

On the webpage of the Centre Romand des Vocations were published some short films for the series called "donner la vie, donner envie".
It aims at telling about different paths and ways of living God's personal call. Among them, you will find an interview with Béatrice.
English version of the text follows.

A colleague of mine in Bern said that since she has opened the door to refugees, life has entered the parish. This stone symbolises the hard soil of migration. It contains a surprise, a hidden treasure: Jesus who introduces himself this way: “I am a stranger, will you welcome me? What you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you are doing it to me”.

He loves us as His children

My parents are from Italy. The whole family has a French passport. Nevertheless, some adults asked me: “who are you actually? Are you Italian or French?”. I could not answer that question, because I could not decide whether to belong to one culture excluding the other one. I thought I would have found an answer by looking for my place in the society through a job. I wanted to work for an international organisation as interpreter. That is why I started to study at university. Sometimes when there was no school, some children with a migratory background came to beg outside my university. As we were just students, we could not afford to help them financially, but we started a small school. Those children helped me to find out that a job (a profession) is important, as long as it is at the service of others.  

In the book of the Exodus, God introduces Himself to Moses, saying: I am He, Who is with you, for you in every situation, in every moment. This Word of God definitely brought a revolution into my life. I discovered that I am not important because of what I do or have, but rather because I am loved, because every human being is loved. He loves us as His children.

I often ask myself:

why was I born in Europe and other people in other continents with so many problems? Why does our economy enrich itself through the production and sales of weapons, which fuel conflicts and push millions of people to fleeing? Why is Europe like a fortress that protects itself from those who just wish to live? Why do some people have the right to live in a country and others do not?

Through listening, I take part to the dramatic situations these people are experiencing. What challenges me is that all of them – even those who were rejected – express their gratitude to God, Who saved them. And He keeps on saving them in very difficult situations.

This cross was made of two pieces of wood, taken from sunken boats in the Mediterranean sea. This cross was made in Lampedusa, place of arrival of several migrants and refugees. It represents Jesus Who identifies Himself and is in every migrant, in every refugee.

We regularly meet to pray in different languages for peace in every continent. As a secular institute with Scalabrini’s spirituality, we are asked to become migrants with migrants, to keep on the move inside, not to settle. We are mainly a presence, a bridge between people with different nationalities, religions, languages and cultures. It is an opportunity to meet as equals. Everyone who participate says that it is one of the best moments in his or her week.

Yohannes, a young man, shared with us his experience during the last Scalabrini Fest. I will read it:

“Many of us have risked everything to find a place where it is possible to live a normal life, but our family and our home are far. Here in exile I am discovering a new homeland in the relationships with others. Where we live together and one for another, there we are at home”.

Béatrice Panaro, Scalabrinian Secular Missionary Women in Solothurn



Centre Romand des Vocations (Website)

Internationales Bildung Zentrum (IBZ)

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