AMERICA/ARGENTINA - "Accepting life as it comes". The "Familia Grande Hogar de Cristo" network celebrates at the Shrine of Luján

Monday, 11 March 2024

by Gianni Valente

Luján (Agenzia Fides) - They arrived by bus from the city and from the entire region of Buenos Aires, with drums, flags and colourful banners. Thousands of young people, adults and children who have joined the "Familia Grande Hogar de Cristo" network, an ecclesial reality that has been growing spontaneously for 15 years with a view to welcoming and accompanying people in vulnerable conditions in the working-class neighbourhoods and Villas Miserias of Argentine cities. In the late morning of Sunday, 10 March, a short and festive procession moved to the Shrine of Our Lady of Luján to the sound of “Murga” drums (see video). At the top was a banner with the call that they have been repeating here for some time and which has also become a campaign on social networks: "Venì Francisco, tu Pueblo te espera" (Come Francis, your people are waiting for you).

During the Eucharistic liturgy, presided over by Bishop Gustavo Carrara, the banners carried in the procession were laid before Our Lady of Luján, and people expressed gratitude for the miracles of healing and redemption, small and large, that enrich daily life around the “Hogar de Cristo”. And along with the many sufferings and new concerns that accompany the present time. When there are difficult times - said Father Gaston Colombres, parish priest of the Villa Miseria in Ciudad Oculta in Buenos Aires in his homily - it is always worth looking at the cross of Christ. Because only from Him can the strength come to accept life, "as it comes".
"Let us accept life as it comes" is one of the most beloved hymns sung in the "Familia Grande Hogar de Cristo.

The mass and popular celebration on Sunday, 10 March marked the end of a three-day event of meetings, assemblies, prayers and convivial moments in which more than 300 representatives of the entire “Hogar de Cristo” network scattered across the nation, from the northern provinces to Patagonia, took part.
Gathered for their annual assembly, the "envoys" of all the Hogar de Cristo collectively looked back on 16 years of their missionary adventure and also considered how best to deal with the crises that threaten the future.

Meanwhile, political fatigue and confusion are spreading in the working-class districts and Villas Miseria. The ultra-liberal dismantling of the forms of national economy and social support - including the networks of public canteens - announced and pursued by the new government, threatens the survival of millions of people. Even the members of the “Familia Grande Hogar de Cristo” sense new obstacles building up around their work.

"Times change, and in times of change we are called to open up, adapt and rediscover our path," said Father Carlos "Charly" Olivero, parish priest of the Church of San Roque, in Villa Palito, in his speech at the assembly.

In his speech, Father Charly recalled in a synthesis the elementary factors that characterize the historical identity of the “Familia Grande” and nourish its ongoing mission: namely, that “the most needy people of our homeland find in the Church a family that embraces them and brings them joy and radiates the light that comes from the encounter with those most affected in our centers". "We consider it an act of faith," added Father Charly, referring to the many stories of rebirth that accompany the work in the "Hogar de Cristo", "to recognize that precisely in these people God draws salvation for the community.
Even in the face of old and new misunderstandings and hostilities, Father Charly reminded in his speech that the “Hogar de Cristo” are not “NGOs”, rehabilitation centers or political institutions, but have arisen from and live in the mystery of the salvation proclaimed by the Church. "Even if you have everything against you, starting with the cultural pattern imposed by the media," said the priest, "in order to continue to accept life as it comes, we are called to remain faithful to our mission, doing all we can, and acknowledging that the results ultimately come from God. Our fruitfulness lies entirely in obedience to the Father". (Agenzia Fides, 11/3/2024)