Santiago (Chile). On 2 September 2023, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the beatification of Laura Vicuña (3 September), the Pilgrimage “Where there is life, I meet you” took place at the Sanctuary of the Blessed in the municipality of Renca, after two years waiting due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Educating Communities of  St. Gabriel Archangel Province (CIL) of Santiago and nearby cities – Valparaíso, Los Andes, Linares, Talca, and Santa Cruz – the families, the inhabitants of the Municipality of Renca, the members of the Salesian Youth Movement, the pilgrims of the Church of Santiago, walked in a festive atmosphere and with a parade of colors, stopping at the three prepared stations until they reached the crypt, and then gathered under the large tent structure to celebrate the Eucharist.

Sr. Phyllis Neves, Visiting Councilor of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, who arrived from Rome on 24 August for the Canonical Visit, and the Provincial, Sr. Ximena Oyarzo Mansilla also took part in the pilgrimage. Sr. Phyllis was welcomed with affection by all, especially by the children who had known of her presence in the Province in their local realities.

Trasform suffering into love

The Eucharistic Celebration – was animated by the choir of girls from Laura Vicuña Primary School of San Joaquin who, in their red T-shirts, enthusiastically sang the songs they learned at school. It was presided over by the Cardinal Archbishop of Santiago, Msgr. Celestino Aós, who emphasized the virtues of Laura which led her to become the youngest Blessed of the Country, and concelebrated by Fr. Carlo Lira, Salesian of Don Bosco, Provincial of the Chilean Province, and by the local parish priest.

In his homily, the Cardinal asked, “In your opinion, can it be said that Laura lived happily? If yes, why? Because in Laura Vicuña’s life, in these 13 years, there was a lot of suffering. But with God’s grace, she managed to transform pain into love. Laura’s encounter with Jesus was not a romantic journey; it was a demanding journey and of the Cross.”

Archbishop Aós described the daily life of the Blessed as follows: “Laura is a good student, a positive, cheerful, spontaneous, sunny leader, but she carries pain in her soul: the pain of her home […]. Domestic violence, cruel like all violence”.

He then continued by recounting and giving a reason for Laura’s suffering. “In prayer, she feels loved by God, despite the cross. In the Salesian Sisters, in the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and in the Preventive System there is compassion, acceptance, help. Who can calculate what every word, every caress, every moment or companion meant for little Laura? The Sisters were there…”.

In concluding, the Archbishop of Santiago wished for the whole Community gathered in the Shrine, “May we look with the eyes of the soul and not remain in nature, in the plants or in the animals, but that we may find Life in the mystery of people. Where there is life, I meet you”.

At the end of the celebration, Sr. Ximena expressed gratitude with these words, “I am very happy because the Salesian charism is for the Church. In the name of the Congregation and of my Sisters, I thank you infinitely. This also challenges us to continue to walk and to make known the figure of Laurita Vicuña.”

Sr. Phyllis Neves added, “I felt a great energy, that of a family with a big heart. Chile is a further blessing for me; I am truly happy and I am praying for you.”

Be love together

After the Eucharist, Sister Phyllis went to the chapel for an encounter with the Salesian Youth Movement (SYM), represented by all the youth realities that participate in the pastoral and artistic-sports associative groups in order, as they themselves define it, “to be a space that allows them to discover in others the art of giving and therefore every day being family and being love together.”

On the occasion, the young people gave the Visitor the Identity Card of the Association and gave a T-shirt from the SYM. Sr. Phyllis was very happy with this encounter, in which she shared her vocational experience. The next day, she left for the city of Iquique to continue her itinerary in Chile.


Photos: Flickr FMA Chile


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