On April 12, 1889 Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini established in Italy the St. Raphael Society with the purpose of creating an international network of social and juridical assistance to migrants, thus safeguarding their human rights.
Similar groups had been operating in other European countries especially in the ports of departure and arrival as a result of the massive flow of migrants, leaving the European continent during the second half of the 1800s.
Scalabrini’s beatification in 1997 provided the needed momentum for a return to the Founder’s intuition. It was an incentive for a renewed appreciation of his person and the study of his writings and initiatives, and to become acquainted with his providential vision of human events. It also provided the occasion to deepen the knowledge of the events that marked his life and be inspired by his all embracing missionary fervor, to be nourished by his gospel-rooted spirituality and to attracted by his thirst for holiness.
It was under these auspices that the Lay Scalabrinians Movement was conceived. It began as a cooperative effort under the one and only Scalabrinian Missionary Charism.
Since 2001 Lay Scalabrinians have successfully held national, and international gatherings which proved to be decisive in giving further impetus to Scalabrini’s insight. They felt a calling to renew and update Scalabrini’s Charism and provide an adequate response to the needs of migrant families and communities.
Lay Scalabrinians have been organizing themselves as a movement comprised of Christian men and women, who, following a period of specific Scalabrinian missionary formation, form small groups who are engaged in the work of evangelization and social action within the local church and society. They work together with the Scalabrinian missionaries (priests brothers and sisters), and are enlightened by the same prophetic Charism and dedication to migrants and refugees, regardless of religious and cultural background. (taken from http://www.scalabrini.org/en/the-mission/scalabrinian-lay )