PARAGUAY, Ani Souberlich and Maria Fischer •
On July 30, the afternoon was sunny yet cool. Some youths were seen close to the wayside shrine, each one with his guitar in hand. They were playing and singing, amid embarrassment, nerves, laughter that was more or less contained, before beginning to make a serious effort to rehearse some songs… It looked a Boys’ Youth camp or an enjoyable moment from the Missions… But we were looking at some youths who until a few months ago had been in jail and lived impressive experiences of abandonment, poverty, violence, hunger, and illness… With their guitars, a recently received gift from some generous benefactors, they were rehearsing “Ode to Joy” for the Mass on the following day, July 31, which was an unforgettable moment in the Shrine.
Getting close to Jesus
On July 31, a day of celebration was experienced once again in the Mother of Tupãrenda House. This time two events were combined: Blas’ graduation and the “yes” of nine young men, who freely decided to take the step of receiving the sacraments of Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation.
Two youths decided that they wanted to receive Baptism, another five Confirmation, and they chose the teachers and mentors from Mother of Tupãrenda House as their sponsors.
Thinking about where they come from, thinking about the place where they return to at night, and thinking about where they will go after fulfilling their time at Mother of Tupãrenda House…one can only imagine the Good Shepherd searching for them with great affection to heal their wounds, to embrace them, to strengthen, and to give his life for them.
The Heart of the Good Shepherd tells us that his love is limitless; it is never exhausted and it never gives up. There we see his infinite and boundless self-giving; there we find the source of that faithful and meek love which sets free and makes others free; there we constantly discover anew that Jesus loves us “even to the end” (Jn. 13:1), without ever being imposing.
The Heart of the Good Shepherd reaches out to us, above all to those who are most distant. There the needle of his compass inevitably points, there we see a particular “weakness” of his love, which desires to embrace all and lose none,” (Vatican Radio, Pope Francis, 3 June 2016).
The Ode to Joy
No one expected it. It was a touching moment for many in the Shrine. The participants enjoyed the guitar melodies of one of the teens, who participates in the program and who in a short time, learned the 4th Movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Ode to Joy. We have heard it in large theaters, we have heard it many times on European television because it is the European Union’s Anthem, we have heard from great artists worldwide …but now, we heard it played timidly by a young boy, and it profoundly touched the soul.
Who has succeeded in the great attempt,
To be a friend’s friend…
Indeed, who calls even one soul
Theirs upon this world!
And whoever never managed, shall steal himself
Weeping away from this union!
You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your creator?
Seek him in the heavens;
Above the stars must He dwell.
Yes, we seek him, in the heavens, and in Mother of Tuparenda House…
It can be done…
During the graduation, Blas received his diploma for finishing a successful process and the recognition of his companions and relatives. Moreover, he received certificates for the areas of acquired skills.
To the great joy of those responsible for the Mother of Tupãrenda House, the Minister of Justice, Ever Martinez participated in Blas’ graduation. He stressed that the program of re-integration implemented at Mother of Tupãrenda House is innovative and has evidence of success. A press release from the Ministry states: “The National Government carries out a real social investment by wagering on programs with a comprehensive focus for the benefit of society.”
In turn, the director of the Servicio Nacional de Atención al Adolescente Infractor (SENAAI), (National Service of Assistance for Young Offenders), Orlando Castillo pointed out that “small actions show that the process is bearing fruits, this is a work was accomplished through the commitment and effective coordination between the public institution and the foundation.”
Ana María Mendoza de Acha, President of Fundaprova, praised the teens that made the commitment to acquire social and work skills to reintegrate themselves fully into society. She thanked the institutions and members of the foundation that offer assistance to these youths for their support.
Blas has reached and fulfilled the goal of the nine months specified by project of the Mother of Tupãrendá House, whose main objective is to strengthen the person through periods of personal, group, and spiritual training for the workplace. His brief speech says it all…you see a youth who is grateful and who wants to move forward.
1: Admission: Selection of participants / 2: Adaption: Getting to know each other – 1 month / 3 -Formation in bakery, gardening and social skills – 7 months /4 – Preparation for work – internship in companies – 1 month /5 Monitoring – is offered to all participants who have completed the phases 1 – 4 – 6 months
A program that makes demands on everyone…and which bears fruits
We might believe that every graduation celebration becomes routine…but it is not, since each one has its personal testimony. Their daily conquest of the small and routine things demands the effort of each one, a different sacrifice. The support of the Technical Team and of the teachers during this process is very important in writing their Individual Development Plan (IDP). It is a life project that the participant proposes to discern, execute, review and evaluate about his person. It is also a way to record and supervise his needs and aspirations for learning. To write the IDP is a useful instrument to reflect on their personal objectives and to consider what skills or traits are needed to attain the stated goals. The IDP not only establishes the work that must be fulfilled to reach a certain objective, but it also establishes time periods and dates within which they should finish and evaluate. For this reason, every Graduate is a gift, a miracle and a YES, IT CAN BE DONE…It gives all of us, that accompany this process of transformation, day by day, the conviction that it is worthwhile to keep betting on them. It is worthwhile to believe that change is possible. Although they may fall many times, they have had the courage to get up many more times. Although their past hurts them, although time has dried up their souls, and they have always been failed and lied to…they have the strength to get up, shake off all of that, raise their gaze, and walk upright despite everything…That is what it means to be strong, that is being courageous, that is a gift that only God and the Blessed Mother can give them. Grace works, in this place, much more than we can imagine…
Currently, we have twenty-two participants and a waiting list with more youths who want to leave their pasts and begin anew, who want to prepare themselves for this. It is not about handouts, it is about “seeing the person and leaving their history to begin to build,” to give them the tools that they need, not only to obtain a job but keep it.
We continue to believe and bet on them. Thank you for always supporting us.
The form is in Spanish, as we cannot yet afford to pay for a third language form (we run spanish and german), but it is self-explaining. Payment options are Credit Card (Master, Visa), PayPal, and (only within SEPA) Direct Debit and bank transfer) If you need help, turn to us.
Schönstatt-Patres International e. V.
IBAN: DE91 4006 0265 0003 1616 26
Intended Use: Casa Madre de Tuparenda, P. Pedro Kuehlcke
Ministry of Justice Press Release:
Original: Spanish. 14 August 2017. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA
Sebas: a living example that the vicious cycle of poverty, abandonment and crime can be broken