Posted On 2017-01-05 In Projects, works of mercy

Experiencing the real meaning of Christmas at a juvenile detention center

PARAGUAY, by Laura Ruiz Díaz

On 24 December, Christmas Eve, the prison ministry along with Fr. Pedro Kühlcke went to the juvenile detention center, “Centro Educativo Itauguá” (CEI) [Itauguá Educational Center] to share Christmas snacks with the youths.

The experience allowed me to live the true meaning of Christmas through every smiling face that graciously expressed gratitude for our presence, or in the tear-filled eyes of some, who, no matter how they tried to control a feeling of sadness, could not hide it. Thus the hugs were longer and stronger. I felt an enormous sorrow in my heart, but at the same time, a peace and satisfaction of being there to console and to give that affection and love, which is so necessary for everyone, but perhaps even more for these boys. I owe all of this to the Blessed Mother, I feel her presence in my life very much, and I am changing a lot thanks to her. I understand, more and more, the reason that took me to CEI: helping these boys is an experience that is giving more meaning to my life. A beautiful dream, precisely, an article on and a Father with a large heart were the instruments that the Blessed Mother used to show me her love that is as hard to explain as it is generous and merciful and that without deserving it gives me the signs to feel like a beloved daughter.


They gave me the best Christmas gift

This experience led me to understand Christmas. These youths gave me the best Christmas gift. My seven godchildren at CEI did not have visitors on this day. Therefore they gave me the kiss and hug reserved for their loved one. One of them told me, “Everything was delicious, but what I am most grateful for was that we were here together on a special day.”  He asked me about my daughter and made no further comment, only a tender gaze and beautiful smile. I will keep all those moments I experienced in my heart, and they will be a part of a treasure more valuable than any material richness. I thank God and the Blessed Mother.

It was truly very beautiful…It was worthwhile to spend one of my “best nights” with them…Thank you!


Why do we call this night HOLY?

“It is a HOLY night because since then, God has a name, Jesus; since that night God has brothers/sisters, us.

Since that Night, God has favorites: the poor, the little ones, the simple ones, the clean of heart, sinners. Since that night, all roads are routes to reach God: jail, illness, sorrow, loneliness, death.

Since that Night, a criminal man can be saved, a corrupt woman can be saved, a boy, who is an addict can recuperate, a demolished country can be transformed, a broken home can be rebuilt, a fraudulent business can rectify itself, a blasphemous heart can adore, an unbeliever can believe and an egoist can love again.

Christmas is God on earth and God born in a family, so that humanity becomes a family.”

From the book:  “Si un Niño no hubiera nacido” –Bishop Vicente F. Zazpe (1920-1984) Argentinean bishop – Editorial Bonum, 1977


Original: Spanish. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX

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