A poor man comes in and a saint comes out

Jose Francisco Serrano OcejaJose Francisco Serrano Oceja




The parish Saint Mary the White de Canillejas (Plaza de la Villa de Canillejas, 1) is much more than a parish, it is a town, a family. Perhaps you could say that Canillejas It is Santa María la Blanca, piety, devotion to a popular and heartfelt image. And as his parish priest says, the young priest Jose Crespo Marquez, “There is nothing social that is not linked to a family and to the faith that strengthens the bonds in the family.” Settled in a historic town, which was annexed to Madrid in 1949, and housed in a temple that is now news for one of the most impressive crafts of our capital art, the community is committed to the love revolution: «Always love more».

It would be necessary to tell a lot about the history of this town and this parish, settlement already in the fourteenth century, which according to Madoz means shortage of population when it was founded. The temple, whose origins date back to century XVI, with later additions from the 17th century, it has close ties with Toledo, on whose archbishopric it depended. The Church was razed in the Civil war, then the altarpieces and the organ were lost. Today it has become an integral center of attention to people, both for their spiritual life, the path of personal holiness, and for development.

The story began with the traditional food distribution to needy families, in a neighborhood where the population was getting older, the children went to neighboring areas where the price, and space, of housing is more affordable. In addition, a flood of people came from the immigration, mainly from Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Nicaragua and Ecuador. Every person who approaches the parish with a material need also demands a spiritual help. Why separate the material dimension from the need that comes from the heart? As José Crespo tells us, “the poor evangelize the poor. And we all are in one way or another. It was about all of us forming a great family in which we help each other and seek holiness. Here are beneficiaries both volunteersThose who come from outside, like those from the neighborhood, like the people who receive aid, who later become volunteers. “To love always more” translates into an itinerary to grow in the love of God and in love of neighbor.

How do you feel that love is always more? With a dinning room, which is now centered, until full official permits are in place, on a kitchen at full gas that prepares food to be distributed around the neighborhood. For example, at old people with the risk of domestic accidents when cooking, families that do not have the most basic necessities or immigrants who rent rooms in flats without the right to kitchen. The stories of the patera flats they would give for a series, injustice that cries out to heaven.

“To love always more” is also school support for children with school and integration difficulties. And also the “foster home”, a house with people who have been expelled for non-payment of the flats, or single mothers who see the gift of life within them threatened. To these projects, which are underway and need everyone’s help, is added the Employment Guidance Service, the job bank and the workshops that are organized aimed at professional preparation, such as cleaning or cooking. None of this constellation of love that is always more, which is never little, would be possible without the help of volunteers, among others, those of the Tsuneni Association, an independent group of young people which is always there.

But the parish does not end here, nor does it exhaust itself in these activities. The project “You are important», Now slowed down by the pandemic, intended for the elderly and their social and coexistence needs. Hence, for example, one of the most active groups in the parish emerged, the group Weavers, dedicated to making solidarity scarves and collars. There are workshops of initiation to prayer, of the Charismatic Renewal, of the catechesis, of an intense family life, after all. Here, a poor person enters and a saint leaves, as the classic would say.

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