ARGENTINA/SPAIN/ CHILE / CUBA, by Mercedes MacDonough and Maria Fischer •
Precisely Cuba. Among all the possible places in the world, the historic encounter of 12 February – The embrace between Patriarch Kirill from Moscow and Pope Francis –actually took place in Cuba at the Havana airport. During the encounter, they signed a joint declaration. After two hours of intense conversation, the Pope and the Patriarch went to a hall in the airport, where President Raúl Castro waited for them to sign a joint Declaration. It is based on thirty points acknowledging that Catholics and Orthodox share the common spiritual tradition of the first millennium of Christianity, despite the division caused by the wounds of past and recent conflicts and of the differences inherited from the ancestors in the understanding and explanation of the faith of God. The Bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Moscow wait, the text is read that their meeting will contribute to obtaining the unity mandated by God for which Christ had prayed. They stressed that Catholics and Orthodox should learn to take the common witness of truth in the areas that is possible and necessary.
After the signing, the Pope gave a brief, improvised touching speech: “We speak as brothers, we have the same Baptism, we are bishops. We speak of our Churches, and we agree that unity is achieved by walking forward. We speak clearly, without ambiguity, and I must say I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in our conversation. I give thanks for Your Holiness’ humility, your fraternal humility, and your real desire for unity.”
“I do not wish to leave without expressing my sincere gratitude to Cuba, to the great Cuban people and to their President here with us. I thank you for your concrete willingness to help. If Cuba continues this way, it will become the capital of unity. And may all this be for the glory of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, for the good of the whole faithful People of God, under the mantle of the Holy Mother of God.”. (Pope Francis, “Signing of the Joint Declaration”, Friday, 12 February 2016)
Cuba, precisely Cuba, the place for an encounter that has been awaited for 1,000 years. Cuba, the country of the Virgin of Caridad del Cobre. Cuba, the country where there is still no Schoenstatt Shrine, but there is a wayside shrine and the Pilgrim Mother travels to the poorest and most humble homes. During these days, three Pilgrim Mothers were on the way to Cuba.
The Pilgrim MTA desires to be in Cuba
In June 2015, Fr. Egon Zillekens’ took his Pilgrim Mother on his visit to Cuba for the founding of the Federation of Priests, with the consecration of the first course consisting of three young priests from Cuba, fruit of the first Mission Cuba of the Boys’ Youth from Campanario, Chile in the 1990’s. The Pilgrim Mother awakened a great desire for her and for the campaign in Cuba. In covenant solidarity with schoenstatt.org, twenty-five Pilgrim Mothers were prepared in Buenos Aires, Argentina along with corresponding materials. Because of the political conditions in Cuba, it was not possible to mail them, instead, human “little donkeys” were needed to take them. The first Pilgrim Mothers went with some Argentinians who participated in Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba. In January, three more went in a very “international” manner. That is from Buenos Aires via Córdoba, Argentina, and Madrid, Spain to Cuba.
Mercedes MacDonough relates:
I received an email from Vicky Forn, from Madrid, Spain: “Hello, Mercedes, Fr. José Gabriel Bastian (Cuba) has asked me to write to you because you have some Pilgrim Mothers for Cuba and you do not have a way to send them. I have a daughter in Córdoba, who is returning 6 January and a cousin in Buenos Aires, who will go to Córdoba on the 4th. Perhaps I can arrange for my daughter Teresa to bring them to Madrid, and on the 17th, someone is traveling to Cuba who could take them. I believe it is best if you send me your phone number, and I will call you tomorrow so we can talk calmly…”
A “chain” of phone calls followed, addresses were exchanged, and we searched for logistical solutions to have the Pilgrim Mothers ready, and a place from where they would be sent. “The Blessed Mother chose a funny route to get to Cuba,” Mercedes thought and Vicky answered: “This is how she always takes care. I am Argentinean, married to a Spaniard for years, I met Fr. José Gabriel here (within the context of Jubilee 2014), and we became good friends. In 2015, I was in Cuba twice collaborating with the founding of the Mothers’ League at Santa Cruz del Sur, approximately 80 km from Camagüey, and I fell in love with the people. Now I am working on dates to return in 2016. Pray that I can make it…”
On 8 January, Mercedes could finally communicate, “Mission accomplished!”: “Today, the three Pilgrim Mothers departed for Cuba. A young Spaniard, Martín Becerra came, he returned to Madrid with three Pilgrim Mothers that will be sent to Cuba. The funny thing is that a young boy came on a motorcycle and he took them to Acassuso, they will depart from there to Madrid on Saturday. These connections from Madrid to Cuba are because Vicky Forn (who lives in Madrid) has a direct connection with Fr. Bastian and she will send them to him…”
Meanwhile, on 3 February, the third team of Mission Cuba, Lucas, Manuel and Tomás, departed from the Shrine of Campanario. The community at Santa Cruz del Sur welcomed them and they will continue Mission Cuba. A few days later, they went to Camagüey to begin their work with the Youth Ministry of the Diocese. They will work at a school of leaders.
Sending forth of the new Mission Cuba team
Cuba wants to communicate and to know what is happening in the rest of the Schoenstatt world. Due to the quality and slow connection, a couple of weeks ago the priests of the Federation of Priests began to receive the schoenstatt.org news week by week, copied on an email.
In the mission of serving the life of the international Schoenstatt Family narrating real life stories, we are not stopped by a slow connection!
New team of Mission Cuba with Frs. Bladimir (left) and José Gabriel (right)
With material of Vatican Information Service (VIS), press office of the Holy See