Alto Hospicio, Chile, is a boomtown. But in the city’s Columban parish of Sagrado Corazón de Jesús (Sacred Heart of Jesus), more than two-thirds of the families are headed by single mothers living in extreme poverty. To survive, these women must work at menial jobs requiring long hours, leaving their children behind at home. The children often do not receive enough nourishment, since no one is there to prepare their meals while Mom is at work.
Columban Father Aidan Larkin, who serves in the parish, has been in Alto Hospicio ever since migrants began flooding into the area seeking work and better lives for themselves and their families. Our missionaries in Chile have responded to the influx of refugees by establishing three churches and a hall for Alto Hospicio’s Catholics, as well as ministries to help the town’s poor.
Fr. Aidan is intent on helping improve the children’s access to regular, nutritional meals by setting up a Children’s Nutrition Center to provide the children with nutritious meals, easing these mothers’ burdens and giving them peace of mind as they work diligently for an honest wage. Providing meals for these children will open up the possibility of a good relationship with them so that we can begin to help them grow up as good Christians and members of the Church.
As Fr. Aidan says, “If we ignore their need for ordinary bread, how can we hope to introduce them to a life nourished with the ‘bread of angels’?”