[Madrid-Santa Luisa Province] Since the foundation of Hispano-American Association San Fernando, the Ambassador of Spain in Paris has been the Honorary President. He called us to the Embassy to celebrate its 125th anniversary on December 3rd.
The celebration began with the Eucharist in the chapel of the Association attended by a small group of the closest collaborators of the Association, the Spanish Ambassador and Madame Carderera. Then, at the Spanish Embassy Mr. Cremades, President of the Association, addressed a few words giving a history of the Association and thanking those who have contributed to its activity in these 125 years.
The Association began in the Spanish Embassy. At the time, the wife of the Duke of Mandas, Ambassador of Spain in France, was part of the first group of ladies at the origin of the charitable work of the association. The first formal meeting of its Board Directors was held in the Embassy at No. 34 Boulevard de Courcelles.
During these 125 years, everything done by the San Fernando Association comes from the heart. In addition, we remember Mrs. María Valdés and Ozores, Marquise de La Guardia as shown in the book, “Spain In Paris Since 1892; History of the Hispano-American Association San Fernando” (2000). She should have been present, but a few weeks ago, she left us and is celebrating the 125 years of the Association in heaven. She was everything for San Fernando, as were her grandparents and parents who were actively involved with the Association for 34 years. Her mother was secretary of the Council of San Fernando from 1963 until her death in 1983. In 1988, Maria joined the Council and was active until her death, passing the torch to her daughter Beatriz, who forms part of the current Council of our institution.
125 years ago, a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul took charge of the poor in Neuilly. Some Spanish women, including the wife of the Ambassador of Spain, founded the Association to help the Sister and provide her with clothes and food to help the needy. Since then, it is the Sisters of this Congregation who animate all their activities.
The Statutes of the Association specify that “it is in this house that the abandoned are granted refuge and that the relief is distributed to the poor.” The Marquis of Casa Riera, President from the founding of the Association until his death in 1915, donated the building to the Association where it has been since then at 121 Boulevard Bineau in Neuilly-sur-Seine.
San Fernando is a health center today, approved by the Social Security and open to all. There is a team of a dozen family doctors and specialists, recognized for their abilities, many of whom are bilingual in French and Spanish. There is also a residence for students and workers. The Sisters visit Spanish-speaking prisoners in two prisons in the Paris region to offer them social and spiritual support. They listen and support families and help them in different ways, making contacts with lawyers or consulates, giving human and moral support. The Sisters also visit elderly and sick Hispanic people in the hospital or at home. There are French courses for beginners for immigrants. Since 2010 El Paso, a home for pregnant women in difficulties, offers the young woman who has chosen to keep her child a stable place to stay in a warm environment until birth. The Sisters are assisted in this task by a team of volunteers: midwife, psychologist, marriage and family counsellor, etc. If the young women do not have resources, El Paso covers their daily needs while waiting for the result of their request for help.
We will never forget what our predecessors did during the first 125 years of San Fernando. We thank all the people who today make possible this wonderful reality that is San Fernando. The Sisters, who give their lives for the sick, needy, people in physical or moral need. The Ambassador of Spain, and all the services of the Embassy and the Consulate that support this activity, as well as the diplomatic representations of the Hispanic countries. Doctors and nurses, who care for several thousand patients each year at the Medical and Social Center. El Paso’s team of collaborators, which since its creation has helped 112 births. All volunteers who collaborate with the Association in different áreas. The Board of Directors that directs the Association. And, of course, especially those people who, with their donations, allow the Association to meet their financial needs.
Summary taken from D. Juan Antonio Cremades’ words
President of the Hispano-American Association in Paris