CUBA/ARGENTINA, AICA and Osvaldo Martín •
A statue of Saint Joseph, a little over six feet high and weighing about 176lbs, will be transported from the Basilica de San José de Flores [The Basilica of Saint Joseph of Flowers] to the Cathedral of Havana, Cuba, where it will be blessed by Pope Francis during his apostolic visit on 19-22 September. Behind this gesture toward the Cuban people is a story of a neighbor from the Flores’ neighborhood. He is profoundly devoted to Saint Joseph, and he moved heaven and earth to fulfill his promise.
The initiative began with Jorge Langlois’, a 66 year-old accountant, pleasure trip. He visited Havana and its Cathedral in January of this year. He looked for a statue of Saint Joseph, as he does on every trip, to pray to him, but he discovered there wasn’t one. When he returned to the country, he ordered a statue from Valentín Alsina, a famous factory of religious statues, and after long discussions, Bishop Ernesto Giobando SJ, Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires, enthroned the Saint Joseph statue in the Basilica of Flores.
Jorge is a very active citizen; he is married with two children and two grandchildren. Presently he manages a business of dermatologists’ offices that care for patients with skin diseases such as psoriasis and vitiligo. But in 2001, during the financial crisis that the country underwent, he did not do well. So he approached some religious to ask them for work. They told him to pray to the protector of the Holy Family praying: “St. Joseph, take charge.” A few days later he obtained the job that he wanted. Since then (as well as before), he became devoted to Saint Joseph and he feels that he is a man that is now more significantly devoted to St. Joseph.
“My idea was for this saint to become a place of pilgrimage, for tourists and residents, and thus grant graces like those that I have received throughout my lifetime,” he explained in a dialogue with AICA.
The beginning of the project
Before leaving Havana, Jorge went through the Cathedral with the sacristan. There was only a picture of Saint Joseph, but it was kept in place with exclusive access to the priests. Once he returned, he contacted the pastor of the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary the Immaculate Conception.
After obtaining an affirmative from the island, Jorge went to the religious statues’ factory . The owner waited on him, saying he had an abandoned statue that was almost two meters high in the shed. Jorge asked him to fix it up so he could show it to the church authorities. After comings and goings, without making much headway with the metropolitan curia, Jorge went to the Vicarage of Flores by way of a recommendation from his companions in a Schoenstatt Movement couples’ group that he has belonged for many years. At the Vicarage, he met Bishop Ernesto Giobando SJ, who is greatly devoted to Saint Joseph; he was impressed by his story, his commitment, and his faith, marked by the phrase “Joseph take charge.”
While Jorge made progress with the bishop, a priest from the Immaculate Mary of Lourdes parish, from the Flores neighborhood, traveled to Rome, and he told the Pope about the idea of taking the statue of Saint Joseph to Havana, after the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta.
According to testimonies, the Pope, who is devoted to the saint, gladly accepted blessing the statue and enthroning it in Cuba during his visit.
On Sunday, September 20th, Francis plans to celebrate a Mass in the Plaza de la Revolución [Revolution Square] and then to hold a gathering with members of consecrated life inside the Havana Cathedral. It is speculated that he will bless the statue at this time. Jorge will travel to make sure the statue arrives in good condition, but it has not been confirmed if he will be able to tell the Pope his story and to witness this much desired moment when the Pope will place his hands on Saint Joseph, who wants to extend a gesture of brotherhood to the Cuban faithful.
Before departing, St. Joseph’s statue will travel through the city
The presbyter, Gabriel Marronetti, pastor of Saint Joseph de Flores, also collaborated with Langlois’ initiative. And he suggested that the statue could be seen in the Basilica from June 23rd, and that it could also be taken to other churches of Buenos Aires. The statue will not go alone; along with the statue, holy cards with a specially written prayer for this occasion will be distributed.
Prayer to Saint Joseph
Saint Joseph, we want to accompany you, to follow your steps spiritually on this pilgrimage of your image to Cuba. How many Cuban brothers await you there full of faith and hope in your paternal protection! By God’s design, you were the Custodian of the Virgin Mary and of her Child. Therefore, we pray to you with faith to take care of us all now. Your Jesus cannot deny you anything. Intercede before him for the needs that afflict us. Help us to proclaim the Gospel, witnessing the Father’s infinite mercy to his children. Thank you for your protection and bless the Cuban people.
At the Metropolitan Cathedral and in Nuevo Schoenstatt
At the present time, the statue of Saint Joseph is being venerated at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, and in a few days, it will be taken to Nuevo Schoenstatt, Florencio Varela so that it can be venerated there until the moment of its departure to Cuba, thus it is creating another Schoenstatt bond, another attachment with Cuba, where Father Carlos Cox and some Chilean youths sowed the first Schoenstatt seeds about fifteen years ago, and where Father Egon M. Zillekens, from Germany, accompanied by Fr. Maximiliano Bartel, from Argentina were present at the founding of the Schoenstatt Federation of Diocesan Priests in this country with three Cuban priests who formed the founding course.
It is not a coincidence that the statue of Saint Joseph is in Nuevo Schoenstatt for a few weeks. Jorge and Lilian Langlois have belonged to the Buenos Aires’ Schoenstatt Family Movement for a long time; they still belong and are very committed to the Movement.
They have an Apostolic League group and they are part of the group that organizes the solidarity dinner, which is organized every year to raise funds for the Taller San José, la Casa del Niño Padre José Kentenich y el Voluntariado de María [Saint Joseph Workshop, the Father Joseph Kentenich Children’s House, and Mary’s Volunteers].
“We have worked together in the organization of this dinner for six years, and he is very collaborative in everything that involving the Schoenstatt Movement,” Osvaldo Martín, of the schoenstatt.org team, related. “At the same time, by being so devoted to Saint Joseph, he has enthused all of us to conquer this statue. Therefore at the request and suggestion of Fr. Guillermo Carmona, the statue of a little over six feet in height and 176lbs will be enthroned in the Florencio Varela National Shrine for several weeks.
In some way or another, the entire Buenos Aires’ Movement has supported the Langolisis’ adventure, and we are making contributions to the capital of grace to accomplish the successful transfer of the statue to Cuba.”