|The ‘Virgin of the Poor’ Heals Underprivileged Children in Mexico|
Patti Maguire Armstron - NCRegister
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January 3, 2022
I could not stop crying. I was not sad or even happy. Overwhelmed. Completely overwhelmed standing on a stage before 3,200 girls at Girlstown in Chalco, Mexico, singing with the voices of angels. Surely the angels were singing with them.
This past June for our 40th anniversary, my husband Mark and I traveled to Mexico to have our marriage blessed at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our son who lives in Guatemala met up with us and was also on the stage, having been led down the aisle as the girls sang out, “Oh when the saints, go marching in…”
I had no idea such a place as this even existed until my author/friend, Kevin Wells showed me videos of his time there while researching for the biography: Priest and Beggar: The Heroic Life of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz. We had become friends while he was working on The Priests We Need to Save the Church — both best sellers now. When I realized the Girlstown he had visited was only 45 minutes from the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mark and I arranged to go.
A Sea of Peace and Joy
The gentle Sister Martha and high-spirited Sister Gemma, part of the Sisters of Mary and graduates of Girlstown — one in Mexico and the other from the Philippines — showed us around that day. An Olympic-sized pool, athletic courts, track and fields, sewing machines, computers, groves and fields of fruits and vegetables, a walk-in oven to accommodate rolling shelves with 7,000 small loaves of bread a day — these are just glimpses of the care and well-rounded education the girls receive. And upon graduation, they are offered scholarships to universities or trade schools.
Smiling faces and ready waves greeted us around every corner. Joy permeated. “This is where my girls stay,” the twenty-something Sister Gemma explained, showing us a dorm room with two-dozen bunks. This is her vocation — mothering these girls. Hearts wounded in a myriad of ways are immersed in the motherly love of the sisters, the Blessed Mother, and Jesus, living among them.
Some become accomplished as musicians, doctors or teachers, or skilled in business or trades. These are children who once worked barefoot in fields and could not count on there being a meal waiting for them, or even for their families to keep them safe from harm.
Wells recalled how a girl named Zayra told of being chased up a mountainside by a human trafficker. Her grandfather with whom she lived, was drunk most nights. “I would kneel in front of a statue of Mary,” she told Wells, “and pray the fights and drinking would stop.” Another girl, Antonina, told him that her father had been shot dead in the streets and she thinks her mother was burned to death.
“These stories — there are thousands — are why the Sisters of Mary welcome the children each morning as mothers do sons returning from war,” Kevin explained.
As amazing as Girlstown in Chalco is, there are actually 17 Catholic Boystowns and Girlstowns as part of World Villagesin seven countries run by the Sisters of Mary. To date, 150,000 students from poor villages have graduated and many have gone on to trade schools and universities to become professionals and priests and nuns. There are 20,000 enrolled currently, culled from the poorest of the poor neighborhoods. The sisters go out two by two, searching for children 12 to 14 who would like the opportunity, and who have families willing to let them go.
Read the rest at NCRegister
Related: Report: Mexico Is a ‘Dangerous Country’ to Be a Catholic Priest (Breitbart)
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