PARAGUAY, María Fischer •
We will cook for Fr. Pedro’s jail was a phrase that almost became a motto for Fr. Pedro Kuehlcke’s visit to Villarrica. “It is not my jail, nor did I come to visit it, except as Villarrica’s adviser, he commented, although once in a while, Fr. Kuehlcke visits this jail for minors.—
Sometimes young boys are taken to the jail for minors in Itauguá, close to the Tupãrenda Shrine, where he is chaplain and “Pa’I” and much more. The transfer is a way to punish these youths for misdemeanors. They usually are hundreds of kilometers from their families, deprived of attachments, and of hope that the Prison Ministry “Mary’s Visit” provides through Fr. Pedro and a loyal and committed team. Fr. Pedro also seeks “his” youth in Villarrica—
That is how the Rosary Campaign missionaries from Villarrica decided to contribute something along with the Auxiliary MTA: a lot of food and more love left the “El Sembrador” Educational Center of Villarrica with Fr. Pedro.
And because it can’t be any other way, gatherings were held. After a year, a young boy remembered Fr. Pedro, and it was noticeable that the encounter from so long ago made an impression on his heart as something good, something that encouraged him in the midst of so much misery. “Perhaps it was the only good memory in his life,” Fr. Pedro said. Suddenly two young boys he knew and knew well appeared: they were in Itauguá, they were released, but they again fell into a vicious cycle of hunger, abandonment, robbery, and jail – but this time in the jail for adults, after the jail for minors in Villarrica.
“I was your sacristan in Tupãrenda”
While Fr. Pedro told me about this re-encounter, of the joy, and at the same time the desperation of both of them, and of another young boy who was at the Mother of Tupãrenda House for several months and who again fell into drugs and crime, and who, upon seeing him, joyfully told him: “I was your sacristan in Tupãrenda,” I cannot help but think about the Good Shepherd who goes out to the peripheries, looking for the abandoned, rejected, and forgotten ones.
“When are we going to celebrate the first Covenants of Love of these youths?” I asked him. “When the Blessed Mother arranges it,” he responded.
If the Covenant of Love is something like a warm embrace, then we already have hundreds of covenants and the missionaries from Villarrica have created a real covenant culture.
Original: Spanish. 17 August 2018. Translation. Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA