PARAGUAY, Carolina Cristaldo •
Paraguay celebrates Children’s Day on 16 August, and like previous years, the children’s Rosary Campaign (Campañita) missionaries met at the National Shrine of Tupãrenda. The celebration took place on Sunday, 12 August beginning at 7:00 am, and Tupãrenda experienced a great, truly Schoenstatt celebration with more than 600 children from several communities from all over the country. —
It was a time of great joy and emotion. After 3 years of spiritual preparation, those present could savour and enjoy the coming together of all the modalities that form part of the Campañita: Little Missionaries, altar boys, choir and dance.
Embracing the shrine
The beautiful gathering began with dances and songs to which the children responded enthusiastically. They left in pilgrimage toward the Holy Mary of the Trinity Church, where they participated in a wonderful Mass, during which every community presented their contributions to the capital of grace during the year. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, they proceeded with the famous children’s embrace of the shrine, which has become a custom and tradition at this National Gathering. The children felt the embrace of Mother Mary and of her son Jesus.
Then, it was time to divide into teams where the children from the various communities split up to participate in a group activity. Every stand had pictures of saints and outstanding personalities from different eras such as St. Tarcisius, St. Dominic Savio, Blessed Chiquitunga Guggiari, the Servant of God João Pozzobon, our father and founder Joseph Kentenich, the Guardian Angel, Pope Francis, the Holy Spirit and of course the Blessed Mother, the key figures of this special day. In every corner the children learned a little more about them, of their lives and teachings by means of games and different activities.
Experience of a young Church
The day was extraordinary and the grand closing of the large gathering was a large celebration: a children’s concert prepared for the little ones, where joy and enthusiasm met.
Today I want to thank everyone who gave the Blessed Mother their yes, and above all to the children; my gratitude to the coordinators from all the communities for their efforts and giving of self; we are all responsible for its ongoing growth, and above all, that the children may grow up with beautiful experiences of church.
The great gift of working with children
I am Carolina Cristaldo, coordinator of the Campañita. When the Blessed Mother called me to this great mission of love, as I call it, I felt very happy. It is an honor to serve her, and doing it with my favorite people, is a gift.
I have worked with children for 20 years, since I was 15 years old, and throughout my life I could see that the children are our teachers and friends. They really love you, they accept you, and above all, they see your heart, not appearances, like many times adults do.
I am a teacher and catechist and I can say that I receive and learn more than what I give. If you want to learn something and want to be better, listen to a child, hug a child and share with them. They help us to follow the road of real love.
My life has been consecrated to the Mother and Queen of Schoenstatt and the children for some time. In them, I find my strength to continue striving more and more for the Campañita.
I feel that I am on the right road, despite the difficulties, I carry the words that a little missionary told me, “Teacher Caro, this is the right road because it is the most difficult one, but you are safe because you go by the Blessed Mother’s hand and you will go very far”.
Every day I learn that one must never give up, that the sun always rises, that we should believe in ourselves and have faith. I am sure that the Campañita will continue to contribute greatly and it will cross borders, because the children are sowers for our Schoenstatt Apostolic Movement and our society.
For me, this mission is not only an apostolate; for me, it is a gift from the Blessed Mother.
Carolina Cristlado (center)
Original: Spanish. 30 August 2018. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa