I have often wanted to write about my mission in Chile. “La Pintana”, as it is commonly known, is known as one of the most dangerous areas of Santiago, and this is partly true. There are drugs, alcohol, prostitution, drug-trafficking, and the sound of bullet shots that often end with someone dying. It is obvious that if someone looks only at this aspect of the portion of souls that one has to shepherd, it is not a very encouraging environment. Nevertheless, in the time I have been missioning here, all of these facts seem like nothing in comparison to the good that is done, as little and as almost imperceptible as it is to the human eye.
What no one talks about
The media always mentions la Pintana in association with drugs or the assassination of someone. Clearly, these are the only things that interest the media, who is not concerned with what happens within a poor parish in the middle of so much material and spiritual poverty.
No one talks about: the many poor people who eat in our parish soup kitchen which is operated thanks to the selfish work of parishioners and the collaboration of the sisters.
No one talks about: the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in our parish. 365 days a year adorers silently love, adore and ask our Lord, “prisoner of love” present in the Eucharist, for the needs of our parish.
No one talks about the 10 to 15 Baptisms which take place every other Saturday in the parish church, where in the middle of so much ignorance, people are catechized regarding the Sacrament and the Christian life.
No one talks about those souls whom God has preserved from evil in the middle of so much moral and material misery. These souls are maintained pure only by God’s grace and infinite Mercy.
No one talks about: the souls who pass through my confessional, not only confessing their sins, but also expressing their daily pains, trials, struggle and battles .
No one talks about: those Christians who with great pain cannot fulfill the Sunday precept of the Holy Mass because Sunday after Sunday they must work in order to provide for their homes.
No one talks about: the souls of my parish who have a desire for God, to be saints and who in the middle of so many difficulties in their lives do not get discouraged and abandon the ideal of fighting the good fight of the faith.
No one talks about: the conversions from my parish after years of living in sin, caused by a word or gesture of a missionary; these souls return to God.
No one talks about: the IVE novices’ silent work Saturday after Saturday visiting homes and the sick. They are principally the ones who announce Christ’s Gospel from door to door.
No one talks about: the number of sick people who are visited from my parish and die with the last rites.
My parish is not in Russia or China or Japan. I am also no Saint Francis Xavier or Saint Peter Claver. My parish is only located in la Pintana and despite my miseries, weaknesses and limitations I do only what I have to do. I am the “unprofitable servant and I have done what I was obliged to do.”
P. José Hernández IVE, missionary in Chile