These are opportune times to approach the Face of Christ in the needy, the unprotected, those who have no material security and live in an almost haphazard manner. This experience should make our BEING JPIC sensitive. Although it is healthy and prudent to take shelter in our homes, we should remember that our dedication to God is in spite of any reality and condition, we are called to live the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the same Gospel that can also be read in the Gospel of Creation.
Prayer and Action: one of the main characteristics of Franciscan thought. Our prayer and action must be on the margins, sharing the realities of our peoples during this pandemic that has directly affected the economy and health. Let us think of the elderly man who lacks food, the father of a family who has been sent home without a decent salary, those who are sick because of COVID-19 and those suffering directly from this pandemic: let us listen to the cry of the poor.
Contemplating the Gospel of Creation and listening to the reality of our peoples, we cannot remain insensitive and indifferent in the face of a reality that overwhelms us and highlights the fragility of our globalizing systems.
I share with you my experience of service, in our specific situation. I am part of a fraternity situated in the northeast of Mexico, the city of Monclova, Coahuila, a population of at least 231,107 inhabitants according to the population census of 2015. Unfortunately, COVID-19 was quickly unleashed on the community due to an oversight in the city’s main clinic. It began not with the inhabitants but with the medical staff of the clinic, giving rise to a rapid and alarming infection. To date, there are 239 cases and 24 deaths in the population, figures that are considered high for the number of people we have.
Due to this reality, many companies have stopped working, and have sent their workers home with a reduced salary that is difficult to survive with, and the city’s economy is in crisis.
In response to this economic and health crisis, we have implemented two initiatives: The delivery of food packages and the production of masks:
- Working as a team with the Social Ministry of the Vicariate of Our Lady of Guadalupe of the Diocese of Saltillo, where I am an advisor, we took on the task of beginning the delivery of food to the most vulnerable people. To date, about 1,500 food packages have been delivered throughout the population, especially to the elderly, single mothers, the unemployed and other vulnerable people. When we delivered these food packages, there were not many cases; I would like to share with you two that were very significant:
- Single, unemployed mother: she did not know how she was going to feed her children; she did not know where to turn if her neighbours were in similar situations. She put herself in God’s hands, asking Him for help, and even while in prayer, we arrived. Of course, she welcomed us with tears in her eyes and a look full of hope. She said: God has never left me; I will never leave God.
- Elderly person: we could not meet him, because when we arrived at his house, we were told that the man had gone out to work, without fear of risk, because he depends on his work: if he does not work, he does not eat. He lived in a very humble house, so we left the food package at his home. Later, we heard of the man’s gratitude and his surprise at seeing the food on the table in his house.
- The workshop for making masks. One of the prevention measures that the Government of the State of Coahuila has put in place is the use of masks in public, with a tendency to fine those who do not use them. To date, we have delivered around 500 masks made of resistant and inexpensive material free of charge, as a support to families.
This apostolate has borne fruits of sensitivity in the communities, closeness to the most vulnerable. We try to listen to the cry of the poor. There have been countless hands that have joined this project of fraternity, uniting mind, heart and strength in favour of our brothers and sisters suffering the loneliness of their financial situation.
Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord because until now we have done little or nothing.
May God be your reward.
Peace and Good.
Br. Juan Antonio Orozco Alvarado, OFM
JPIC Coordinator of the St. Mary of Guadalupe Conference
Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean