PARAGUAY, by Ricardo Franco •
1985, Father Joseph Kentenich’s 100th birthday was a significant date for the Boys and Girls Youth Groups of the Schoenstatt Movement. Restlessness was born when we recalled the many gifts that we had received during this time. What could we give our Father and Founder for his 100th birthday? It was time to act and to share that life that we received from Father Kentenich.
We found the response to our restlessness in a phrase written by Father Kentenich: “In the e centennial year, (there is) nothing better than to desire loyalty”.
On our daily trips, we saw abandoned, unprotected children, working or roaming through the streets of the country. We felt that this was the gift that Father Kentenich wanted: Loyalty to the mission, service to the neediest.
After several meetings with Father Claudio Giménez and the youths of the Schoenstatt Youth, the idea was born to form a group to help these children. Children who were at risk of losing their right to grow in a family, to study , as well as other rights.
First Pilgrim MTA of Dequení
Paternity, to create attachments and to transmit security, joy and trust
May 4, 1985, was the key date to invite the children. We held a preliminary workshop to prepare for the coming encounters. Our proposal was simple: We wanted to form a new group of friends. We wanted to learn more about being Christians, to share games, to study, to learn life skills and to share food together.
Thirty-three children attended the first meeting at the Miraculous Medal Church. The majority of them were newsboys, shoe shiners, or candy, gum and fruit vendors who arrived alone or in small groups. They were eager and a little fearful. A team of volunteers led the welcome. Father Kentenich’s first lesson was put into practice: Paternity, to create attachments and to transmit security, joy and trust.
This was the beginning of mutual learning and of a slow road impacting the children’s lives and of giving hope to the less fortunate: “Let the children come to me”…Mk. 10, 14. That was our mission: We wanted to give the children and their families opportunities for holistic development.
Yes, something can be done
Gradually, the mothers, other professionals, and friends skilled with working with at- risk children, joined us.
Our space was too small for so many children, and the need to broaden the service and to have our own place was apparent. Alberto Sallustro approached the group and he proposed donating some land. This is how DEQUENÍ grew until it became a foundation. The thirty-three children ballooned into 100, 500, 5,000 children with their families, volunteers, and other members. We soon became an enormous family showing solidarity and growing together.
I met many children and youths, such as, Enrique “Pitufo” [“Smurf”], Cleto, Santiago, Marcialito, Pedro, Carlos “Pirata” [“Pirate”] and others, who are now happy adults/ professionals. They are forming warm homes and protecting their families.
The catechesis taught by volunteers concluded in Tupãrenda. In this way on December 10, 1989, approximately thirty children, led by the beloved Carmen Ruiz (+), approached the source of grace.
I looked for you to say thank you
The words expressed in a touching meeting with one of the original group summarizes DEQUENÍ’S mission: “I have looked for you for twenty years just to say thank you. Thank you to each and every one of you because DEQUENÍ changed my life. I am a good person with my family, my children and my wife. “ He gave me a warm embrace, which I pass onto everyone: volunteers, collaborators, members and friends.
I also say: Thank you, DEQUENí…Mk. 10,14
The words expressed in a touching meeting with one of the original group summarizes DEQUENÍ’S mission: “I have looked for you for twenty years just to say thank you. Thank you to each and every one of you because DEQUENÍ changed my life. I am a good person with my family, my children and my wife. “He gave me a warm embrace, which I pass onto everyone: volunteers, collaborators, members and friends.
Source: Magazine published on the occasion of Dequení’s 30 years.
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