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Missions To Latin America – Part 1

ARGENTINA

Republica Argentina (Argentina Republic)

People:

Population: 34 Million

Ethnic groups: Spanish and Italian 85%, mestizo, Indian.

Principal languages: Spanish (official), English, Italian.

Religions: Roman Catholic 90%.

Geography:

Area: 1,073,518 square miles, second largest country in South America.

Location: Most of the south portion of South America.

Neighbors: West: Chile; North: Bolivia and Paraguay; North East: Brazil and Uruguay.

Topography: The western side is mountainous with Aconcagua as the highest peak in the western hemisphere at 22,834 ft. The eastern side are heavily wooded plains.

Capital: Buenos Aires

Government Type: Republic.

Head of state: President

Local divisions: 23 provinces, 1 federal district

The Lord called us to do His work in Argentina while we were up in the clouds flying from Jerusalem to Rome. It was God's hand showing in that flight because we met Father Jorge Almiron - Father Coqui, for short. He is the Argentine parish priest of the Parroquia del Sagrado Corazon in Claypole, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The parish has 6 chapels with 70,000 parishioners.

(Father Coqui belongs to the Orione Community. It is a community for the poor and handicapped and is in many parts of the world, including the Philippines at Payatas and Montalban.) Edwin and I talked to Father Coqui about Couples for Christ (CFC) enough to get him interested to conduct a Christian Life Program (CLP) for his parishioners. In Rome we met a couple of times more and when we got back to Manila, kept contact with him preparing for that first CLP in Argentina.

For this first CLP, Father Coqui planned to have 200 participants!!! This prompted us to ask our International Mission Director Frank Padilla to allow us to bring another couple. They need to speak Spanish since all the participants do not speak a word of English. So we invited Pompoy and Marilen Dinglasan to come with us.

Even with the new schedule, there were still many activities in Claypole for the month of June. Many parishioners did not know of the CLP until the last day. Yet within 2 weeks, we fast-tracked two CLPs. There were 84 Argentines who dedicated themselves to the Lord with many others wanting to join another program. We promised to come back to give the CLP to those waiting.

The Argentines have a close-knit family. They are very warm-hearted and very hospitable. Working very closely with the Church, almost all the laity's activities and work are with the Church since Don Orione had efficiently organized the whole community of 70,000 parishioners. They have schools, a hospital, a rehabilitation hospital for the handicapped, a big kitchen that feeds most of them, a farm that raises cows, poultry, geese and other animals. They have a big bakery shop, many chapels around their housing units and even a seminary. In that seminary, the community's most handsome sons become priests; they indeed give to the Lord the best of their flock. And these priests are so dedicated to their work for the Lord. Very inspiring!

The Argentine priests we have became so attached to are Father Adolfo Uriona - Provincial Head, Father Hugo Camino - Treasurer, Father Oscar Pezzarini - Director of the Cottoltngo, their home for the handicapped, Father Jorge Almironour host and parish priest of the Parish of the Sagrado Corazon, Father Sergio U galde - Director of the High School, Father Sergio Regner - Director of the Grade School, Father Hector Parodi, Father Leonardo Abregu, and Brother Evaristo Rolon, who cooked for us so many delicious dishes, and Bishop Sandrelli Dante who was newly assigned to Cuba and will be waiting for us to come and bring Couples for Christ (Matrimonies Para Cristo) to Cuba. Father Coqui, our host, also offered to bring Couples for Christ to their Don Orione communities in Uruguay and Paraguay too. Praise God for all these priests who are helping us do the work of the Lord! From Claypole we went to the capital Buenos Aires, to stay with Ambassador Carlos Villa Abrille - Philippine Ambassador to Argentina. He took the CLP on a two-to-one basis with Edwin and Pompoy giving the talks alternately. He is planning to get a group of Argentine couples together in his house for another CLP. About 30 Filipinos working in Buenos Aires as household help are interested in taking the CLP and the Ambassador has offered his house as the venue.

We were invited to attend the Centennial Celebration of the Philippine Independence at the Hockey Club. There we met several prospective participants and Holy Spirit nuns, Sister Micaela, Sister Marie Rose and Sister Maria Paz Lugay, who said they could gather a group of Argentine couples for another CLP.

Father Coqui brought us also to their school in Victoria, Buenos Aires, an hour away from Claypole, where we met Juan Jose and Edith di Meglio who promised to gather Argentine couples in Victoria for a CLP. The priests who will give us their support in Victoria are Father Maximino Rojas, Father Luis Alherto Esposito, Father Jorge Antonio Baez, and Father Fernando Salvanio.

Edwin and I went to the Parroquia of San Martin de Tours near the Ambassador's house to meet the parish priest. After two tries, we got to meet him, Father Isidoro Perez Barrio. He recommended that we should go visit Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, to get his blessings for Couples for Christ in Argentina. Ambassador Carlos Villa Abrille promised to help convince his parish priest to have a Christian Life Program this October in his parish.

Continue to Part 2

Religion | Christianity | Society | Organizations | Regional | South America


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