The simplicity of a child is able to unite and bring to one table the presence of so many faces from different places in Latin America. It is the image that moves the heart of the women who comprise the Family Pastoral Ministry of the Colegio Universitario Inglés. At the beginning of the year, a few days after the announcement of the painful news of the definitive closure of the school, we thought that after this news the mothers would not want to be part of the 2019 Pastoral. In the way of Jesus, one of the members shook us with the force of an earthquake, telling us, “the school will close and be done with, but the poor will go on.” And the women have been the ones who have mobilized the families of the school all year.
On planning the work, our migrant brothers and sisters have been the focus of interest. They were the ones who have put us into the mode of going forth. Jesus was inviting us to go forth to meet him through the motto “called to know, to love and to serve.” The desire to go forth put us into action. First, looking in order to see, know and recognize the suffering of so many brothers and sisters from different countries of Latin America, who have lived for so long in situations of suffering and injustice.
In order to know, we invited 5 immigrants, and we organized a round table where they themselves told us simply about their experience of having left their own country in search of something better. The audience consisted of students, some teachers and parents. After having heard each one, through questions we learned about their situation, which moved the heart of the assembly. Motivated and wanting to come closer to this reality a group of mothers and sisters early in the morning at daybreak went a few times to share breakfast with our Haitian brothers who were lined up at the door of the embassy in order to go through the process for residence in our country. The “knowing” a bit more of their lives evolved into a desire to have a closer encounter with these people who lived the experience of migration.
Our Pastoral team, eager to take a further step, wanted Christmas to have a deeper meaning, of greater involvement… How? Allowing ourselves to be inspired by the Holy Family, to look and contemplate Mary, Joseph and the Child living in exile in Egypt. They left with their trust placed in God, who never abandons them, and they set out on the journey… This image of the flight moved our hearts to desire, and concretize our desire to give a new meaning to the feast of the Nativity.
The first step was to motivate the rest of the families of the Educational community: To bring gifts for the children which later we would share with INCAMI (The Chilean Catholic Institute for Migration) for the celebration of Christmas with 500 children from immigrant families. With great joy we collected 180 gifts which we went in a caravan to deliver. And steadily, concerned not to clip the wings of the call to love and serve, we organized our own party. INCAMI shared with us a list of 10 immigrant families which had the most need, many children, having recently arrived and settled in Chile.
We contacted all of these families and invited them to share and celebrate together the arrival of the Child in our lives. With enthusiastic hearts we prepared the place, the gifts for the children, for each one of the families. And on the afternoon of December 19, we set a meeting place near the school, and there we got together. With each one of the families, we had already communicated via whatsapp, we know one another through the photos and profiles of each. This encounter was like meeting one another after a long time: hugs, joy, thanksgiving, a party. A child, the birth of Jesus, a small and fragile baby generated the miracle of the meeting… 10 families with children from the age of 5 months to 15 years. Faces from Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and Haiti. Prayer, smiles, colors, hugs and food made us realize that something new was happening.
We celebrated, we had a party for the birth of God who became a child, of God who on becoming human wanted to identify his life with that of the migrants. Today we need to give thanks to the Child and at the same time commend ourselves to Him so that the experience of having shared with them our supper, our prayers or our good wishes, may not remain only in good intentions. And above all, to give us the opportunity of changing our prejudices. We want to build the kingdom, we want to continue working to create the awareness that all of us are called to love one another, to serve one another and to welcome one another. Amen…
Jimena Fuentes aci