Fr. Giovanni Salerno was born in Gela (Caltanissetta-Sicilia, Italy) on 30th January 1938. By 1954 he had finished Middle School and two years of High School with the Augustinian Fathers in the city of Palermo. From there he went to San Gimignano for his noviciate year in the Order of St. Augustine. From 1957 – 1961, he studied Theology in the Archdiocesan Seminary of Monreale (Palermo), and he was ordained Priest on 23rd December 1961.
From a young age, nourishing his desire to serve the poor, he requested from his superiors, with success, permission to study Tropical Medicine. In August of 1968, Fr. Salerno left with a group of Augustinians for the foundation of a Prelature in the Andean region of Apurimac (Peru). In this mission territory, he found himself faced with a truly alarming situation: entire villages still live “in the stone age”, in complete abandonment. And so, seeing this sad situation, he began to found medical clinics in the main villages of the region, and in the city of Abancay he began a leprosy clinic to cure people with Hansen’s disease.
From the start, Fr. Giovanni was conscious of the fact that the poor did not need just missionary priests, but also lay people who could consecrate themselves to their service.
For this reason, in the early eighties he founded a profoundly ecclesial Movement – The Missionary Servants of the Poor (Opus Christi Salvatoris Mundi) – to which he invited young men and women, married couples, priests and lay people to join, for our many brothers who suffer in the Third World
Founded in 1986 by Fr. Giovanni Salerno (Italian priest and doctor), the Missionary Servants of the Poor are a Missionary Ecclesial Movement dedicated to the human and spiritual education of the poor and abandoned children of the Third World, as well as evangelization in poor areas. We currently work in Latin America (Peru, Cuba and Mexico) and in Hungary. We are made up of four different communities (Priests and Consecrated Brothers, Sisters, Contemplatives and Missionary Families) who live the same charism as each other, independently from each other.
More than 150 servants of the Poor, from 18 different countries serve more than 1,500 children every day, thanks to schools, food halls, clinics and professional workshops. Many people share our charism of service to the poor, from their homes, through the Movement’s support groups. They meet periodically to spiritually and materially sustain the missionary strength of the Movement MSP, with different initiatives directly coordinated with us.
Our charism is based on five essential points:
Our principal occupation is humble and silent evangelization, so that the poor are able to reach a condition which is in accordance with the dignity of humans and of children of God. We want to dedicate our whole lives to the service of poor children in a special way. We must go where nobody else goes to seek the poor and the marginalized, for it is in them that we wish to recognise the face of Christ.
To take the Gospel to the poor, who await the presence of Christ, to offer them the treasures of the Church (the sacraments and Catholic doctrine);
To offer to poor children (who we welcome into our homes and centres) an integral education, based on the preventive system of St. John Bosco which aims to form in a Christian, intellectual and professional way, those who will be tomorrow’s upholders of society, and therefore, responsible for society.
To organise missionary meetings and spiritual retreats in different countries, offering a way of holiness through the charism of the Movement of the Missionary Servants of the Poor.
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