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Brother Teófilo Minga Visits the Land of the Guarani

20/05/2008: Paraguay

We are in a shanty town in the metropolitan capital, Asunción. We call it Limpio (= clean), although its name is San José de los Campos Limpios. You may interpret this “limpio” as an ideal to attain, an attempt to bring this city out of the mire, out of stagnant water, the refuse, the potholes. That is to say: out of the underdevelopment and deep-seated poverty in which its population struggles along because of unemployment and lack of resources.

In such a setting we find the Marist Postulant House located at the entrance to the town. We had two previous houses that were restored and enlarged last year, so as to have an appropriate place for the seventeen candidates: ten in their second year and seven in their first year. They are having their vocational experience under the guidance of Brother Nicolás Sosa and a community of three other Brothers. The house is large. It has spacious rooms, and its covered porches protect against sun and rain. We also have a tidy, little garden and rows of trees. It is an ideal place for studying and for offering a welcome to young people from the countryside. In fact, the young people here are between nineteen and twenty-four years of age and attend university in the capital, Asunción. They take public transport each afternoon in order to attend their courses which last two and a half hours.

Such is the place where Brother Teófilo Minga presented an overview of our Marist spirituality. In doing so, he helped “Water from the Rock” bubble up in our hearts. For more than two hours the Marist world passed before our eyes. Brother Teófilo was able to engage the enthusiasm and admiration of the postulants, especially those who are making their first year. Of course, for the postulants the presentation was a first immersion in ideas about how one is to be Marist today. At the same time we became aware of the challenges lying ahead of us. The questions were not numerous, but the admiration and enthusiasm in our hearts was great.


A COMPASSIONATE HEART

After the presentation of Water from the Rock we went to visit the Marist Education Centre, located 300 meters from the Postulant House. The Centre is spacious and reveals a clear sensitivity of ecology. There we find Brother Claudio Lozano, the Headmaster of the school. Its approximately seven hundred students come from poor, nearby neighbourhoods marked by wide-spread unemployment and extensive emigration to other countries, mainly Spain and the States. Here is apt place for the “compassionate heart” of Marist Spirituality, clearly present from the first paragraph of Water from the Rock. Our spirituality is one of compassion.

This “compassionate heart,” following in the footsteps of Father Champagnat, tries to find a rapid solution for those in need. The children at the Centre must be nourished in such a way that they can develop both humanly and intellectually in the best way possible. Education, health, nourishment and basic hygiene advance hand in hand. Through the Centre’s many programs, Brother Claudio attempts to offer a response to the social plagues which impact so profoundly upon the children who attend the school

Various NGOs, like the Spanish SED and the DIBEN (National Paraguayan Assistance), along with some medical friends, have made this noble endeavour possible. Together with Brother Teófilo, we experienced a time of joy among these children, helping whom is the ultimate goal of our spirituality of compassion. To the service of such children we are frequently invited in the document, Water from the Rock. Currently we are trying to raise funds to build a kitchen, a dining room and a clinic to give a better response to the children’s needs. This is a very concrete way of giving life, of putting into practice our spirituality: apostolic, compassionate, missionary.

Asunción, April 12, 2008
Brother Inocencio Martínez

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