Posted On 2015-01-11 In Schoenstatt - Reaching out

The joy of serving during Christmas

BRAZIL, Sister M. Agnes Marqueto. In Vargen Pequena, where the Shrine of Rio de Janeiro, “Tabor de la Redención de la Family” is located, volunteers, via CEFAF, the Training and Assistance Center of Families, take care of 180 families, who need clothes, food, shelter, and the most basic needs for a life of dignity.

Every month these families visit the Shrine, where they are sheltered by the Blessed Mother, and they receive a basic basket as a concrete sign of this welcome.

Every month, the volunteers prepare snacks for everyone, and then they offer a time of evangelization with a different subject each month. They work on some virtue for the month, such as a concrete gesture in relationship with one’s neighbor and prayer life. Many in these groups of families are not Catholic. Those who are, always attend the parish celebrations and catechesis.

During this monthly meeting, there is an opportunity to receive medical and psychological attention in the morning. The dieticians orient the families on how to maintain a healthy diet, and they offer nutrition supplements to the mal-nourished children, the elderly and those who suffer from a serious disease or some ailment.

Christmas time, a time for hope

Every year during Advent, the volunteers and the benefactors of the Shrine experience moments of expectation. During this period, they are happy to make Christmas more alive and true for the children and the elderly, who are helped and who suffer so much through the situation in which they live.

Products for the Christmas basket and items of personal hygiene are collected. Many Carioca families “sponsor” the children donating toys, clothes and shoes and gifts for the elderly. At the beginning of Advent, teams of social work volunteers organize in shifts to receive donations and to fill the baskets.

“It is a relief to come to the Shrine monthly to seek food for my children, I have a happier month. The Christmas celebration in the Shrine is something that I cannot explain with words. My tears flow with joy and gratitude,” one lady said.

With the orientation of the volunteers, the women, who are helped by CEFAF, have art workshops during the year; it is the project “Puntos, colores y nosotros” or “Points, colors and us”. During Advent in addition to these works, boxes are made for the children’s gifts.

The joy of giving oneself

Together the volunteers plan and carry out three days of celebration for the families of Vargen Pequena. This year during Advent, the Apóstles of María [Apostles of Mary], employees and volunteers were in charge of the daily Christmas pageant. “It is always more joyful to give, because we welcome the poor with a grateful heart,” a volunteer explained.

One of the ladies, who receive help, spoke on behalf of the entire group during the celebration: “What would come of us without the food that we receive for the month! Mainly, for the affection and the joy of our brothers/sisters who welcome us every month at this Shrine!”

And since there is more joy in giving than in receiving, the volunteers are also happy to welcome and to be with these families who are helped: “Since I retired, my entire life is involved with the task carried out at this Shrine in giving myself to the neediest. And I receive much more here, that is why I am a happy person,” a man commented.


Original: Portuguese. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA

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