By Deborah Castellano Lubov

The United States and the Community of Sant’Egidio are providing assistance to those most impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in Italy.

“The collaboration between USAID and Sant’Egidio makes it possible to intensify the work already underway to deal with the social emergency caused by the pandemic,” President of the Community of Sant’Egidio told ZENIT. This project, he explains,  is “new because it takes place in Italy, a country particularly affected by covid but which usually does not benefit from international emergency aid.”
“This is a generous sign of solidarity between the US and our country and a further fruit of the relationships of collaboration and trust that have existed for many years with Sant’Egidio on the issues of solidarity, peace and dialogue.”

The Community of Sant’Egidio, with support from the United States Government and in partnership with the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), outlined their response to the crisis, in a Dec. 3 virtual press conference, via Zoom.

Nearly 1 Million Dollar Grant

At the meeting, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Callista Gingrich, announced that the United States, through the United States Agency for International Development, is awarding a $900,000 grant to the Community of Sant’Egidio and its collaborator, UISG, to provide critical humanitarian assistance to those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy.

Ambassador Gingrich said she was delighted that UISG partnered with Sant’Egidio to support religious communities and homeless shelters for those in urgent need of medical and hygienic products.

“Sant’Egidio and UISG,” she highlighted, “are two of the finest examples of faith-based organizations that serve some of the most vulnerable populations around the world.”

“The pandemic has negatively and severely impacted Italy’s economic and social system. In just a few months, requests for assistance and food support have rapidly increased.”

Life-saving Work & Courageous Work of Women Religious

Thanks to the nearly 1 million dollar grant and collaborating with UISG, Sant’Egidio was able to increase its food assistance programs.

“UISG,” the Ambassador praised, “is also a cherished partner of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See. Over the years, we have worked with Sister Pat Murray and her dedicated staff to combat human trafficking, to promote interreligious dialogue, and to advance the courageous work of women religious.”

US Ambassador Gingrich praised the UISG for being “a unifying voice for 400,000 women religious who work tirelessly to defend human dignity around the world.”

“I commend the Community of Sant’Egidio and UISG for their life-saving efforts in Italy,” she said.

“During this unprecedented period of social and health emergency, the Community of Sant’Egidio has increased its volunteer work, distributing food to the homeless, the elderly, and at-risk families,” said the Community’s head of international relations, Mauro Garofalo.

“Throughout Italy, we have doubled the number of meals served in our canteens, as well as ‘to go’ meals, in compliance with Covid-19 prevention measures.  Every month we are reaching thousands of families through our delivery food boxes in ten Roman suburbs, and in 25 cities in 15 Italian regions, to help them face food insecurity.”

“The important contribution of the United States Agency for International Development, which is the result of a strong and long-lasting partnership between the United States and the Community of Sant’Egidio,” he said, “has allowed us to broaden our range of action to support the people most affected by the economic impact of the pandemic.”

“Covid-19 has highlighted the central role of solidarity networks, which are even more essential today to combat the loneliness and isolation of many people. Sant’Egidio’s vast network in various peripheral contexts has allowed us to respond quickly and effectively to increased needs and to address new problems,” concluded Garofalo.

Finding Their Strength in God

The “remarkable stories” of so many elderly nuns whose lives have been completely changed by the Covid-19 pandemic is what touched Executive Secretary of UISG, Sister Patricia Murray.

Not living in a protected environment, but rather they experience the same fears and worries as everyone else.

“They find their strength in God,” Sister Murray emphasized.

Sister expressed her gratitude to everyone who supported their congregations, and guaranteed that their convents are secure places at this time, especially for the elderly and frail.

The Poor in Rome will also be assisted by Sant’Egidio this Advent and Christmas Season as Palazzo Migliori will continue to help the homeless off of St. Peter’s Square, and will have a Christmas meal for those who live in the structure.

While the Christmas lunch for the poor of Rome cannot happen as usual due to COVID19 prevention protocols, it is expected that poor will be invited to different churches in Rome, affiliated often with Sant Egidio, and during certain hours, to avoid gatherings, be able to take their Christmas lunch to go, and will be given a gift.

Below one can find Ambassador Gingrich’s full remarks, provide on the Embassy website:

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Ambassador Gingrich’s Remarks
Sant’ Egidio – UISG Press Conference
December 3, 2020

Good morning.

I’d like to thank Mauro Garofalo and the Community of Sant’Egidio for the opportunity to be with you today.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed our world. In Italy, the coronavirus has infected more than 1.6 million people and has claimed over 50,000 lives.

The United States and Italy enjoy a strong and friendly relationship, enriched by our shared history, values, and culture.

As part of our enduring friendship, the United States, through the generosity of the American people and the United States Agency for International Development, is honored to award a $900,000 grant to the Community of Sant’Egidio and its collaborator, the International Union of Superiors General, to provide critical humanitarian assistance to those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy.

Through this project, which began in July, Sant’Egidio and UISG have provided essential items such as food, clothing, and personal protection equipment to the homeless, the elderly, and other at-risk people. They have also provided counseling services and virtual medical assessments.

Sant’Egidio and UISG are two of the finest examples of faith-based organizations that serve some of the most vulnerable populations around the world.

Faith-based organizations are defined by an abiding sense of purpose and are dedicated to aiding those most in need. They serve as lifelines for communities experiencing unprecedented hardships and as advocates for the oppressed.

The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and the Community of Sant’Egidio have enjoyed a long and productive relationship. Together we have mediated conflicts, advanced interfaith dialogue, and provided humanitarian assistance to those most in need.

Sant’Egidio is recognized around the world for its efforts to resolve conflict, promote peace, and alleviate poverty through its vast international network.

As Secretary Mike Pompeo said during his visit to Rome on October 1st, “Sant’Egidio’s work is noble because it reaches where politics cannot reach and achieves what politics cannot achieve.”

UISG is also a cherished partner of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See. Over the years, we have worked with Sister Pat Murray and her dedicated staff to combat human trafficking, to promote interreligious dialogue, and to advance the courageous work of women religious.

UISG is a unifying voice for 400,000 women religious who work tirelessly to defend human dignity around the world.

I am delighted that UISG has partnered with Sant’Egidio to support religious communities and homeless shelters for those in urgent need of medical and hygienic products.

I commend the Community of Sant’Egidio and UISG for their life-saving efforts in Italy.

Working together, across governments, faith-based organizations, and civil society, we can and will overcome the spread of COVID-19.

Thank you.

The post FEATURE: Those Hit Worst by COVID in Italy — Joint Assistance to Be Provided by USA’s $900,000 Grant & Community of Sant’Egidio appeared first on ZENIT – English.

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