PARAGUAY, Ismelda Verónica Vázquez Gonzales and Agustín Saldívar Orrego •
“Fr. Pedro Kühlcke celebrated at a Sunday Mass in Tupãrendá. After Mass, Fr. Pedro told us a little about the Prison Ministry at C.E. I. (Itauguá Educational Center), the juvenile detention center, and he invited us to participate, as only he can do it. I felt the message was for me and that it was an opportunity to serve, which could be, above all, a great apostolate, that I was having difficulty finding. I called Fr. Kühlcke and since that May 2014, I go every Saturday with Fr. and other people, who are a part of this beautiful and comforting support for the neediest, the Prison Ministry, “Mary’s Visit”. Ismelda Verónica Gónzales writes this testimony that was published in August 2015, at schoenstatt.org. She is also the same person who began a large campaign before Christmas 2016 to gather food for a Christmas dinner at the jail. These young offenders have conquered her heart… Nearly three years of visiting the juvenile detention center, Saturday after Saturday, with Fr. Pedro Kühlcke and other volunteers, she shares her experiences.
Ismelda (left) celebrating her birthday in the Juvenile Detention Center
Feeling loved for the first time in life
In the Prison Ministry, in the Juvenile Detention Center in Itauguáa, all of us have grown, but the point I want to stress is the importance of Fr. Pedro Kühlcke’s work.
One of the boys called me, he took me aside, which is typical of them, and he asked me to sit at his side and sadly said: “Isn’t Fr. Pedro coming anymore?” I responded: “Of course he will come again. It is just that he is on vacation. Why do you ask? He responded: “Because he loves me very much and I also love him.”
I felt that he was expressing that, for the first time, someone showed him love, and that he experienced the same feeling. Continuing with the conversation, I found out he was 15 years old, he cannot either read or write. With his beautiful smile he explained he could copy what was on the chalkboard and that beginning on Monday he would go to school. And he gave me kisses and hugs, like those one rarely receives.
The Prison Ministry, The Most Holy Mary’s Visit, is worthwhile for these children without opportunities.
Thank you, Lord, for giving us the opportunity of being there to offer our time, our listening, and above all, our presence every Saturday. Thank you, Fr. Pedro! Thank you to everyone who forms a part of this beautiful apostolate.
She fulfills what Pope Francis asks
Ismelda’ husband, Agustin Saldivar Orrego, added – with wholesome pride:
“Yes, Ismelda, I know that what you write flows easily because the joy of having the opportunity to give your time flows from your heart, and perhaps people think you have the time to spare, and you don’t. People should know that Ismelda and I have been married for twenty-eight years; we have five children and two grandchildren, who we also care for, because we are blessed that Katiana and Manuel are with us, as well as Fernando, José, Adrian, Arami and the grandchildren Cecilia and Juan Ma. Ismelda has a nursing degree; she is the Supervisor of the Surgical Unit of the Hospital of Clinics. She is a first class professional. The Blessed Mother has this citizen as an apostle, fulfilling what Pope Francis asked: to go to the periphery and not just comb sheep. At the Itauguá Educational Center there is a great deal of rejection and neglected wool that must be sheared from these youths and children who grew without the care of parents. Fr. Pedro carries out the Prison Ministry, where what may be surplus outside is useful for the inmates.”
We can all participate and be a part of the Prison Ministry with our prayers, our capital of grace for the inmates, for the apostles of this ministry, and also with a monetary contribution that can feed approximately 200 youths, who are always hungry for that anticipated “snack time” every Saturday afternoon…
Contributions can be made with one click – here:
Bank account in Paraguay
Account N° 001-065259-003
Congregación Padres de Schoenstatt
Bank account in Europe (SEPA)
Schönstatt-Patres International e. V.
IBAN DE91 4006 0265 0003 1616 26
Intended use: P. Pedro Kühlcke, Pastoral carcelaria
Original: Spanish, 02/27/17. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA