Jan. 15, 2020 - Parroquia El Buen Pastor is a Jesuit parish located in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, approximately 45 minutes from the epicenter of the earthquakes that shook the island in the early days of January 2020. The people of El Buen Pastor were not greatly impacted by the earthquakes, and their homes were not damaged. However, they were in close proximity to those whose homes were damaged and destroyed. Seeing this opportunity to help, the community poured out their love and care for their brothers and sisters in Guanica and Lajas, Puerto Rico.
Parishioners filled three large trucks with donations and delivered them to people in three different locations in the two neighboring towns. Parish volunteers were also trained to know how to listen to a person who is processing a traumatic event, allowing them to accompany others from a spiritual standpoint as well, bringing Jesus to their stories.
"We were blessed with a social worker who helped us organize the donations and the volunteers, as well as with two psychologists who helped in the training," Fr. José Ruiz, SJ, pastor of El Buen Pastor, said. "We were blessed with business owners who put their trucks to the service of their fellow brothers and sisters. We were blessed with many individuals who brought donations small and large, and people willing to roll up their sleeves and move those donations around."
The parish used $1,000 from its charity fund to buy water and food.
"Before we gathered, I didn't know if I was going to have too many donations or too many trucks, but the ratio was perfect," Fr. Ruiz said. "A priest called 45 minutes before our departure time and asked for a mattress for a sick child. We didn't have it. Thirty minutes later someone out of the blue asked if we could use a small mattress. There were many winks of God along the way, not the least of them was the many smiles of people we met, and the stories we shared. Thank you for your prayers. I witnessed first hand what Psalm 34 says: 'The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.'"
Fr. Ruiz shared the following video of the sharing. Click on the cc button for English subtitles: