PARAGUAY, Soledad León •
Our story begins during 2016 when Schoenstatt’s Mothers’ Branch from Asunción carried out their usual convocation to form new groups. Twelve women attended that meeting, guided by a profound devotion that they felt for Mary, without imagining what the Blessed Mother had prepared for their lives: feeding the hungry. —
Laura González, Diana Arzamendia, Paola Morga, Mirian Larrea, Celeste Bonin, Paola Bieber, Karina Cuellar, Soledad León, Adriana Manzoni, Batania Buzo, Esther Ascurra, and Paola Noguera came from different places, diverse professions, and their own special and independent life stories. They joined the group that they called “Live Your Way” which is how their story within the Schoenstatt Movement began.
The need to put love and commitment to our fellowman into practice
As they got to know one another as sisters, they also discovered profound common interests. This is where the need to put love and commitment to our fellowman into practice united them, and they began down this apostolic road.
During a group meeting, Laura González, one of the members, mentioned that as a result of a flood, her family felt the need to help people who lived in settlements located in the Loma Merlo de la Cuidad de Luque area. These families with limited resources saw their houses flooded with water with every heavy rain. After seeing this devastating panorama, they proposed to do something to help, and since then, they could never ignore families’ needs from that area. They discovered that just like them, a group of Dominican Sisters of the Most Blessed Sacrament, led by Mother Ursulina Benítez, had been working with mothers from the area with the goal of offering decent lunches for the children. That is how “St. Peter” Children’s Dining Hall was born. Feeding the hungry.
The group ignited
Upon hearing this story, the “Live Your Way” Group was greatly touched and felt that the Blessed Mother had united them in this group to carry out a real mission. From that moment, they decided to take the reins of this great apostolate of the “St. Peter” Children’s Dining Hall through fund raising to insure its upkeep.
The group carries out activities such as: clothing fairs of donated new and used articles; they also held charitable raffles developed by members, they obtained cash donations as well as non-perishable food items for the proper functioning of the dining hall.
An important attitude to stress is the initiative of good-hearted people that have come to share a lunch with the dining hall’s children, undertaking all the meal’s expenses that is offered to the children. At times, they even take charge of making the meals as a great contribution to the Capital of Grace. There are also people who prefer to celebrate their birthday by sharing the lunch with the children.
It is important to mention that from the beginning the Schoenstatt Mothers’ Branch, to which the group belongs, has supported this apostolate by participating and organizing activities with the objective of collecting donations.
Large celebrations are held on special dates throughout the year such as Children’s Day, Three Kings’ Day, Christmas, and other times when children from the area come. They have the support of many donors for these events, but the large mission is to maintain the charitable spirit alive throughout the year, and thus guarantee that daily plate of food.
Thanks to the dining hall, many children have returned to school
The main objective of St. Peter Children’s Dining Hall is in offering daily lunch for the children of limited resources who live in settlements neighboring St. Peter’s Chapel, belonging to the Dominican Sisters’ Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, which located in the Loma Merlo of the city of Luque quarter. The help of this dining hall provides daily nourishment for school-age children who belong to more than 800 families.
The only dining hall requirement of the children that come to receive a daily meal is that they attend school. Thanks to this initiative, many children have returned to school, and therefore their co-existence within members of the family and even among neighbors has improved.
The mission of St. Peter Children’s Dining Hall is to raise the families’ that participate in this help quality of life both physically as well as spiritually.
And because the commitment is great and this apostolate is growing in the measure that more people are contributing their grain of sand and their unconditional support, currently, in addition to offering a plate of food daily to the children of the area, this Children’s Dining Hall also gives them the opportunity to receive free dental care. Drs. Cinthia Gill, Jorge Gómez, Dally Cardozo, Antonio Barrios, Marisol Villanueva and Laura Ayala voluntarily joined this great apostolate, and they offer their professional expertise, time, and they even donated a dental chair for the care of the children.
Schoenstatt does not want to be a club of self-sanctification
At the beginning of its founding, Fr. Kentenich said that “Schoenstatt does not want to be a club of self-sanctification, Schoenstatt is an apostolic Movement.” This is the spirit that the Father and Founder wanted to see reflected in the Schoenstatt Family, and this is the spirit that we want to transmit as a group of life, within the larger Schoenstatt Family as well as the whole world.
We are convinced that the Covenant of Love that the Father and Founder lead us to seal with the Blessed Mother is a covenant that leads us to be Mary’s instruments. It is not only a personal, intimate covenant; rather it transforms us into instruments in Mary’s hands in the midst of the world.
The Lord will not do it through a miracle; he needs active Christians, who will commit to action. The “Live Your Way” Group understands, that through this apostolate, the Blessed Mother wants us to be her instruments. That is what our apostolate is about: being apostles in the deserts of the world. Blessed Mother, we want to Live your Way through the commitment and love to our fellowman.
The Live Your Way Group invites everyone who is interested in collaborating to carry out this apostolate to contact us and to make it effective through the donation of non-perishable food items, consumables for dental treatment, cash donations, which will be used to buy products, or pay for services needed to sustain the dining hall.
Contact and contributions:
In Asunción: Sra. Laura González Rivas: Tel. +595 982 796509, Paseo Sucre, Denis Roa N° 1034.
In Luque: Madre Ursulina Benítez: Tel +595 985 840824, Capilla San Pedro – Compañía Loma Merlo.
Source: Revista “Tupãrenda”, April 2018
Original: Spanish. 13 May 2018. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA