From January 18th to 27th, the visit of Father Tomaž Mavrič cm, and Father Aarón Gutiérrez cm took place.
During these days, they visited the three houses or local communities present in the Region: the Sanctuary of La Merced, in the heart of Old Havana; La Milagrosa Parish, in the municipality of Diez de Octubre, and the missionary parish of San Joaquín, located in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba.
Important and moving meetings were held during the visit, with the faithful we serve, with members of the Vincentian Family and parish councils, the Daughters of Charity, and the bishops in whose particular Churches we make our presence known.
From the eastern part, the Sunday celebrations of January 21st with the communities of San Luís and Mella stand out, the visit to the National Shrine of the Virgin of Cobre, Patroness of Cuba, the meeting and lunch with the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba and part of the presbytery that customarily meets on Mondays to lunch at the archbishop’s house, and there was also time to visit the tomb of the brothers and the Daughters of Charity in the Santa Ifigenia or Efigenia Cemetery as it was called in its origins. We prayed for the brothers resting there and for all the brothers who ended their mission on earth serving the poor on this island. The transfer from Havana to Santiago de Cuba was an opportunity to admire the beautiful geography of the Caribbean island as well as to deduce its declining situation.
On January 25th, the anniversary of the Foundation of the Congregation, the Eucharist was celebrated in the sanctuary of La Merced together with the entire Vincentian Family of Havana. The opening of the 400 years of the Little Company, as Saint Vincent called it, is highlighted. On the same day, the region’s only student, who had his Internal Seminary alongside Clapvi north in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, made his good intentions. God willing, he will be a brotherly vocation within the CM.
The personal dialogues with the brothers we work here are highlighted, and we now come from four nationalities: 5 Cubans, a Mexican, a Filipino who arrived a few months ago, and the two Colombians. Remember that the Province of Colombia has continuously contributed with several brothers since the early ’90s.
It must also be said, honoring the truth, that the reason for the visit included the study and evaluation of the Region’s Statutes that were set for three years, but the tight agenda did not fully allow for study and reflection as essential points for the consolidation of the congregational journey in this needy Church of Cuba, leaving the commitment to undertake such reflection during the current year and to introduce the relevant changes in the statutes as well as the new pastoral plan for the next triennium and the respective regional norms.
The visit ended with two meetings worthy of note, the first with the head of Religious Affairs of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, without any comment on the matter. The second, with the Cardinal of Havana, Juan de la Caridad. Thus took place, broadly and without further detail, the visit of the Successor of Saint Vincent. Some claim that the last four general superiors have visited Cuba, at least of the last three there is evidence and recent memory. For my part, I had no time to visit the archives of the former Province, today Region of Cuba.
I conclude by saying that the visit took place at a very difficult and critical moment for Cuba due to the social, political, and economic crisis that the country is going through in its 65 years of revolutionary history. As a church, we have no choice but to continue accompanying the people and praying that, at some point, the situation changes, and that what Cubans seek elsewhere by emigrating, they find here in their own land.
Father Héctor Manuel Farfán Murte cm