After an eventful departure from the airport in Santiago – which, in these days, due to the expansion works at the air terminal, presents serious difficulties for the arrival and departure of vehicles that transport passengers, – the Superior General, Father Tomaž Mavrič, accompanied by the Assistant General, Father Aarón Gutiérrez, finally arrived at the Central House of the Vincentian Missionaries on the afternoon of Friday, 16 March. The Visitor, Father Fernando Macías, and the Provincial Assistant, Father Mario Villar, as well as the missionaries who were at the Central House at that time, welcomed them.
After resting a short time, they all moved to the house of the Daughters of Charity on Venice Street. There, the successor of Saint Vincent, first visited the elderly Sisters of La Asunción house with whom he chatted for a few minutes.
Later, he presided at the Eucharist in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rays, together with representatives of the entire Vincentian Family. During the homily, he expressed his joy at being in Chile, thanked everyone for the welcome and recalled the challenges that the International Vincentian Family faced on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the Charism and the beginning of its fifth centenary.
At the conclusion of the Eucharist and after a “serenade,” where a group of children presented the national dance, la cueca, the sisters invited the Superior General, the missionaries, and representatives of the Vincentian associations to share a fraternal dinner.
Following a good night’s sleep in the Central House of the missionaries, on the morning of Saturday, the 17th, the Superior General, together with Father Aarón and several confreres, traveled 110 kilometers by car to the city of Valparaíso, to participate in the Diaconal Ordination of our student Álvaro Tamblay. It took place in San Vicente de Paúl Parish, run by our missionaries. In a beautiful celebration, Monsignor Jorge Patricio Vega, Prelate of the Territorial Prelature of Illapel, conferred the ordination.
The Ordination was followed by a pleasant sharing, where Father Tomaž could speak with the confreres, the faithful of Valparaíso, and those from Santiago who came to accompany the new deacon, as well as with the relatives of the ordained.
After this event, the Visitor led the visitors to the Santiago airport, stopping for lunch on the road, because at 5:00 pm they had to board the plane to travel to Punta Arenas.
Following the four-hour flight, they arrived in the city of Punta Arenas at 9:00 pm, where they had a very festive reception at Presidente Carlos Ibáñez Airport. Awaiting them were missionaries, Daughters of Charity, and laity from the Vincentian Family. There was music, singing, dancing, and photos. Then they moved to San Miguel Parish, where the missionaries serve, in which there was another celebration to welcome the successor of Saint Vincent to these southern lands.
On Sunday, the 18th, the Superior General celebrated Mass with the members of the local Vincentian Family in the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal Shrine inside the “Hogar del Niño Miraflores [Miraflores Children’s Home],” which is run by the Daughters of Charity. Concelebrating with him were Father Aarón and the three members of the mission, Fathers Pablo Alexis Vargas Ruiz, Margarito Severino Martínez González and Rafał Bogdan Brukarczyk. Later there was a sharing with the whole community. Afterwards, missionaries and Daughters of Charity, including the sisters who came from Rio Gallegos, Argentina, went to lunch in the town of San Juan, about 180 kilometers from Punta Arenas.
Monday began with a very early visit to the Miraculous Medal School, which the Daughters of Charity have maintained for more than 50 years in a peripheral sector of the city. More than 1200 students study there.
Then, the Superior General, accompanied by Father Aarón and the Visitor of Chile, went to the offices of the Bishop of Punta Arenas, Monsignor Bernardo Bastres, to meet with him. During the meeting, they analyzed the progress of the mission both in Punta Arenas and in Tierra del Fuego. After the meeting, they walked to the bishop’s house, where he offered them a lunch to which the three confreres who work in that mission were also invited.
In the afternoon, the Superior General held personal interviews with the missionaries and then a meeting with the whole team. In the evening, there was Mass and dinner with the Sisters in the children’s home.
The last day was the time to travel to Tierra del Fuego. They crossed the Strait of Magellan very early on a ferry. The trip was made by the Superior General, Father Aarón, Father Fernando (Visitor of Chile), and Father Margarito. They visited the parish, school, and communities in this place, which is the southernmost location in the world where the CM is present. It was a three-hour tour in which the Superior General was able to see onsite the work the mission does in that distant land. After those three hours, they shared a hearty lunch, which contained oysters, meat, and Chilean wine.
After lunch, they crossed the Strait in the opposite direction to go immediately to the airport, where the members of the Vincentian Family bid them farewell. They flew to Santiago, from where, the next day, the Superior General traveled to Buenos Aires to visit his mother, while Father Aarón traveled to Bariloche, in the south of Argentina, to visit another confrere.
Fr. Carlos de la Rivera, CM
Province of Chile