Our mission in Santiago, Chile

If we could look at our life from above, we would be able to recognize the secret threads of the design that God is embroidering, those threads that unite the present and the future and that highlight even those events that can seem small and hidden in our eyes. Our mission in Santiago was born precisely out of one of these events: the friendship between Don Massimo and a Chilean bishop, Msgr. Erràzuriz, who lived in Rome in the 1990s, working at the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated and Apostolic Life. When our experience in Argentina concluded in 2005, Bishop Erràzuriz, who had become a cardinal in the meantime, had already been called back to his home country and been named archbishop of Santiago. It was he who opened to us the doors of this immense metropolitan area, asking us to set up one of our houses in his archdiocese. Thus, we opened a second point of mission in Chile, along with Agostino Molteni who had arrived in Concepción in 1993.

Seventeen years have now passed since that beginning in Santiago. And it is beautiful to remember that it all passed through the eye of a needle, that is, a friendship. The grace with which God weaves is like a thin line that threads its way through our tiny openings. And it has brought us into the heart of this beautiful country so rich in deserts and fertile valleys, between the ocean and the high peaks. Beautiful because the landscapes of Chile reflect the geography of the hearts that inhabit them: human landscapes full of depth, desires, silence, often guarded by high cordilleras which make it necessary to wait with patience until they decide to open up. The time is always decided by an Other.

Upon our arrival in Santiago in 2006, we were catapulted into a vast parish in Puente Alto, a southeastern suburb of the capital city. It is a neighborhood of workers and moms, poor, born out of the urban expansion planned by Pinochet a few decades earlier. Many kids were waiting hopefully to be able to live their future. Our priests started from a small wooden house that they shared with the woodworms and the dampness: a small Bethlehem across the ocean. A problem was posed from the outset: where to begin in a world so new and vast? Providence opened the door of an encounter for us with the youth of the parish, but also with the schools and university. How many encounters the Lord gave us! Many approached us asking to be able to know God. And we searched for words and gestures that would introduce them to His presence. A friendship was born that was nourished with the words of great saints, pieces of literature, poems, movies, hikes, and time spent together. A true cultural work that tore away the veil that covered the Mystery and showed Christ as the center at which all lines converged. The most beautiful fruits of this work are the many friends that decided to belong to the encounter that they had experienced. Many of them got married, while others decided to give themselves to God in virginity. All of them take part in that infinite embroidery with which the Lord weaves our lives into salvation history. In the meantime, our presence in the capital grew also in the numerical sense, and in 2014 we opened a second house in San Bernardo, in the extreme southwest of the big city.

But there’s a gift that the Lord has given us and that makes our presence in the Chilean metropolis fertile: the companionship of the Movement that preceded our arrival, that welcomed us, and that we continue to serve with our vocation. It is a companionship that during these years has set to music the experience that we are living, writing songs that describe the newness of Christ and the beauty of the encounter with Him. It is a companionship that is the deep breath of our life because it welcomes those whom we continually meet and introduces them to a history that preceded us and goes beyond us. It is a companionship made up of friends for whom Christ is everything.

Once again, the invisible thread of God’s grace embroiders His design in the apparently small space of human friendship. This is true even now, as we are witnessing the growth of violence and ideology in the public squares and an ever graver disorientation among men, in a country that is rapidly becoming the flag-bearer of leftist thought for the whole South American continent. The form of our mission is changing. The communion between we priests and our friends is becoming ever more decisive for the announcement of Christ. And it is more and more coming under attack. But this is not a reason for dismay, because when we look from above, we see that the fabric of our lives, as it is being woven, is sustained by the grace of God.

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