Father Antonio MARIANGELI, Provincial of Argentina-Chile, shares with us a letter from Pamela Luján Zilli (Caritas Volunteer), from the Parish of Our Lady of Luján in Santa Fe, Argentina.
The “Community Refrigerator” began when Father Pablo FUENTES suggested to the Caritas Volunteers a project known as “Mary’s Refrigerator.”
There are eleven of us who get together seven days a week to offer a meal to persons living on the streets. We follow the parish schedule. It is a daily task that requires patience and trust in the Lord. We soon realized that it took a daily effort for those of us who could offer this service. Some volunteers stopped coming because they were unable to do it or they did not feel able to be with those who came to our door.
Personally, I am where I want to be… According to Pope Francis, hearing the cry and the needs of the poor and responding concretely is not a task reserved for the few. The Church, guided by the Gospel of mercy and love of humanity, hears the cry for justice and wants to respond to it with all her strength. In this context, we understand the demand of Jesus to his disciples: “You give them something to eat!” (Mk 6:37.) It’s a simple, everyday gesture of solidarity with the very concrete sufferings we encounter.
In particular I believe and am left with this: “Love my neighbor as myself.” So we learn to see ourselves in them. We overcome every obstacle: fatigue, anger, disagreements. All that passed when we started receiving what we are giving: love.
We give of ourselves as we are, always going out of ourselves, to be the bridge, the instrument, every moment learning and growing, not asking but only listening.
Often, we find ourselves without the main thing, food; many divide a plate into three so that no one goes away without anything. Some of us come crying, sad, looking for the right words to tell them that there is no food and seeing uncertainty in their faces. Many others come joyfully, knowing that if our refrigerator is empty, it will fill up again, because we are beginning to get food from the parish community. We look at Padre Pablo and together we say: “These things belong to Mary!”
It is also an opportunity to tell, especially to the young street persons, who she is and what she is called: Our Mother, the Virgin of Luján, who protects them and who opens her doors to those who have so many doors closed in their faces. “And who is it in that painting that looks down on them, with such a strange look?” And then we find ourselves leading them to prayer, telling them that it is the paining of Saint Eugene and that he is not bothered by them; like Jesus, he looks upon them and also listens to them.
Mary’s Refrigerator is their place and their opportunity to be heard in their many needs. They learn that a “Good morning” and the joy of being welcomed help them to forget and to be healed, even a little, of the cold they experienced the previous night.