Mission “El Porteño in Clorinda”, Province of Argentina

We know the “mission” and a missionary’s work are not “what” we do but “how”, “for Whom” and “for what reason” we serve. We don’t discover anything that we do not live in our own contexts.  

We are a Community of four Sisters: two Argentinians  the Sister Servant from Uruguay and myself. We live in a small house and from there go out to our own services: Sister Elides to Saint Joseph School and Sr María Antonia to St Joseph and to the soup kitchen at Toga (an aboriginal community)and Sister Zulma and myself to the Clorinda, Porteño area, just at Paraguay’s border.  Sr Zulma is in charge of the Day Nursery and I visit homes and prisoners, and teach Religion classes in the Religion department at the two Sisters’ schools in Clorinda.  Saturday afternoons I do catechesis with a mothers’ group.

In home visiting, I try to attract people to God’s tenderness and kindness, because only from hope and happiness in small, but significant gestures, can we show people the Kingdom that is for them.

We have several projects for development:   building houses “with people”. We have already built seven. Another project is to facilitate micro-credits.  We have made loans to 24 people and when they earn some money they give back 25 pesos a week (1€ = 6,20 Argentinean pesos). Then we can lend money to others.  The point is that they share with those who are in a worse situation than themselves and, at the same time, do it in an evangelical context.   It is very important to motivate people to use micro-credits.  They see that they can improve their own situation and, simultaneously, collaborate with others worse off than them.  You cannot imagine how happy I feel when I see the smiling face of a mother, or of a young couple without hope, when they receive a small micro-credit, even though this could only be to sell three fruit boxes and to earn just a few pesos a day.

In home visiting I get familiar with people and I also try to help them at another level. I bless their houses and families; in some homes we read the Gospel and I propose that they participate in the Eucharist.

My main worry is young broken families, without resources, and exposed to alcohol.  I talk with them and, sometimes, we get some results.  These families have many problems: some with many children from two or three partners, with very limited resources and, sometimes, with great school absenteeism.

I am convinced that God does all, because in prayer and at the Eucharist I experience the strength, the force and the joy I need to go to the mission every morning.  Many days I walk 6 Km. and visit the whole morning. I think the Lord has done the paralytic’s miracle with me for, before, I hardly walked at all, and now, I never get tired. Some days I plan with God where to go, according to needs but, many times the itinerary is marked by people who call, or tell me where there is a sick person or an urgent need to attend to.  When I met Fidela, a 29 year old mother with colon cancer and with seven children, she had been eight days without taking medicines because she could not afford to pay for them. Today, she has finished chemotherapy, is very well and is running her small grocery business.

 

 

 

The two Sisters´ schools have primary, secondary and tertiary grades.  The soup kitchen at Toba is supported by Saint Joseph Technical School and El Porteño Nursery by Santa Catalina’s School. They also have solidarity projects with the people we serve.

I believe the Lord, with the force of his Spirit, works continually in us. I also experience a missionary’s solitude due to lack of understanding, difference of mentalities and cultures, insecurity or the disappointment for people’s lack of perseverance and commitment and other difficulties that life brings.  But without them, we would doubt if our daily work is interweaving with the Kingdom, or if we are following the Master who tell us to, “take up our cross every day and follow him.”

Sr Constanza Roldán, DC