Twenty years is nothing

Por: Asela de los Ángeles

The parish is young, it’s only twenty years old. Why is this anniversary celebrated? It is very simple, you already feel the absence of many of its founders and if we wait for the golden weddings to celebrate, it is quite possible that there will be none left, perhaps only the children who are now in catechesis, who would then have to bear witness to our memories, of their ancestors. In addition, as Cubans, we also like festivities and if necessary, a motif is invented and which is better than the patron saint of the saint of Alamar, Saint Martin de Porres?
To be precise, the first Mass in Alamar was held more than twenty years ago, on November 3rd, that is why Saint Martin of Porres was chosen as the patron saint of this town. In the beginning, four to five apartments coexisted where Sunday masses were performed, interchangeably, but when a specific house was enabled for this function, with Father Mariano Arroyo as parish priest, the parish was officially considered inaugurated. From those times we will always remember Father Mariano’s words: “I am only a quarter of a priest for Alamar”, referring to the many obligations he had and that prevented him from being with us longer.
The house, of course, did not have the requirements for the assigned destination. It was simply an independent space with the characteristics of a common home in that area. The dirt yard and fruit trees that provided shade was the ideal place to hold the celebrations. Several wooden benches were sent to provide some comfort to the few attendees. Father Mariano’s pedagogy enabled all of us who heard his words, an exceptional growth in faith that we will always remember with gratitude. We regret your loss, although the memory of your presence accompanies us.
Father Mariano also facilitated twinning with the parish of Madrid, San Juan Evangelista and his parish priest Manuel García, who, during all this time, has provided considerable material and spiritual help for the good of those most in need and the improvement of the constructive conditions of our parish.
The arrival of Isidro Hoyos, a working-class priest and brought by Father Mariano expressly to fall in love with this nascent community, did the rest. Appointed parish priest stayed with us from 2000 to early 2015. The continuity belongs to the Argentine father Alberto Montiel, of the Oblate Order of Mary Immaculate. I maintain that we have been blessed for all these years. Memories and feelings of the hand become happiness and nostalgia.
The temple is not how it is traditionally conceived. It has been intervened and remodeled to be what we appreciate so fondly today. Structurally it remains a patio with granite floor, light roofing, partially opened laterally for the enjoyment of the surrounding patios and their vegetation. The enclosure is multipurpose as the presbytery has wooden doors that fold to open in the celebrations and in the rest of the space the seats, chairs and benches are accommodated at convenience, as required by the different activities: catechesis, AA meetings, mission house, deliveries of clothes, food and toilets, meetings of people Down syndrome, parties several , mental health groups, parish council and so on. We also have a dining room “Alamor” in an apartment of area 19 for those in need of food and spiritual accompaniment, in addition to several mission houses in different areas of this immense distribution.
I wish to share this experience in all its communal wealth. Human heat cannot be mitigated with fans and ambient temperature changes. Since those early days, the arrival in the enclosure does not inspire silence and gathering but quite the opposite, the display of human heat. Greetings, welcome, hugs, kisses and chat parloteo about the daily events of the week create an atmosphere of fraternity among families who rejoice in the encounter. We all know about everyone, nobody feels like an island. Thus we are by the grace of God and we give our contribution in the construction of the Kingdom. The temple is sacred with all of us inside.
New ones are welcomed with a welcome song that extends to those who, for one reason or another, were absent for a certain time. We congratulate those who turn their birthdays and their families, we also remember the important anniversaries of the participants.
We sing with more or less tuning, that doesn’t matter, because singing is double praying. The choir maintains a part of its founders, faithful and resilient. The choir’s director is affable, elegant, very jealous and engaged. There have been others that have not always been so constant. They are accompanied by a piano, always, and recently other amateur musicians have been added that contribute to the maracas, bongó, keys and trumpet. Very important, the whole community supports with its singing. There is no absent celebration of singing.
The moment of the Peace Greeting is countless. You have to live it to feel it at its best. It’s all with everyone. There’s no one left without being squeezed and kissed. There’s no escape. Love with love is paid for.
The work of all pastoral care is commendable. I could extend greatly, but I will only remember that the poor and needy are the blessed of this Kingdom.
When we started this twenty-year journey, we were in Semi-Dutch, trying not to get much attention, though without limiting the mission we have. Times change. Now our Catholic Church is not the only one in Alamar, many other religious denominations coexist.
I will always remember with great love that moment, twenty years ago, when a neighbor sent by the Church came to my apartment and handed me a little piece of paper with the good news of the existence of a Catholic Church in Alamar, in a house in zone 1. From there, my life was transformed and expanded with a large family, which is what this community has represented to me over the years. I just want others to have this opportunity for spiritual growth, too. Ω

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