PARAGUAY, by Maria Otilia and Héctor Fleitas •
The IPS Mission takes place on first Saturdays at Social Security Institute (IPS) Central Hospital. It begins with Fr. Martín Gómez commissioning Eucharistic Ministers, and Rosary Campaign missionaries. The several people who are involved in this apostolate go through the building’s eight floors taking the Eucharist, visiting the sick, and their relatives with the Pilgrim Mother. When the priest participates, he administers the sacraments of anointing of the sick and reconciliation. The mission concludes with praying a Holy Rosary in the chapel on the first floor.
Toward the peripheries
This apostolate emerged following the steps of the Servant of God, João Pozzobon, who took the picture of the MTA to thousands of people, especially those who were on the “peripheries,” and the sick were special recipients of this apostolate. It is obvious that the ill have constant physical discomfort. Yet there is more profound and heartbreaking suffering than a physical one: it is the sorrow of loneliness and indifference. Jesus dedicated himself to visiting, healing and accompanying the sick… We want to follow his example. He calls us to carry out these corporal and spiritual works of mercy, especially in this Holy Year of Mercy.
Sometimes a visit is enough…
The Youth Shrine Hospital Ministry team, along with the Rosary Campaign Youth Ministry, and other people who commit to this mission, approach IPS to offer a little encouragement with our presence to those who need so much. Moreover it is the soul’s motivation that takes us out of ourselves, of our small world, to spend a few minutes with others, as Pope Francis asks us.
How many times are we relieved in the midst of our illness when our Blessed Mother approaches us with a smile or when a friend comes to greet us? Many times, a visit is enough, some simple words to alleviate the weight of those who suffer.
More than an act of solidarity, something more profoundly moves us. It is an awareness of serving Christ manifested in the troubled, pale and perhaps desperate face of a sick person in some room of the hospital.
What a beautiful occasion presents itself to seek Christ in the sick! In such a troubled world, the missionaries show the greatness of their souls by thinking of those who suffer.
I waited for her for a long time
Several times upon entering a room and seeing the Blessed Mother, we are welcomed with such great emotion with them saying: “I waited for her for such a long time,” and they embrace the Pilgrim Mother. I recall an occasion, when a man who was alone when the missionary took the Pilgrim Mother; he did not know what to do with her, and he emotionally told her, “Thank you for finding me!”
We were also impressed by the case of a baby who accidently fell into a bucket and was transported from San Ignacio to the IPS of Asunción, virtually without hope, but her mother did not give up. Once at IPS, the doctors confirmed the difficulty of the case. But the Blessed Mother came to the critical infant’s room, and after a very difficult time, she was released without aftereffects, on the feast of the Virgin of Luján; the child’s name is Luján.
We are the most blessed
Hospitalized patients welcome us in different ways; first, we ask permission. Some become emotional, they are happy, and others seem to say through their gestures: since you are here come in, nothing more. Everything changes when we enter the Emergency room. There in the long hall, everything is uncertainty. The patients are lying or seated accompanied by relatives, the majority in complete uncertainty, but the moment that we explain that we have come to pray, and we ask if anyone wants to receive communion, practically everyone raises their hand, even those who are with them.
The suffering of others makes us more human, more sensitive, and it teaches us to value the precious gift of health and the life that God gives us everyday. By carrying out this apostolate, we are the ones who benefit most, because we leave comforted! It makes Jesus’ words real and living “I was…ill and you cared for me.” (Mt. 25:36)
Source: Magazine Tupãrenda, Paraguay
Original: Spanish. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA