Fr. Conrado Lives On

By Julian Gregorio Oyales, CICM

The Condrado dela Cruz Project is the story of some displaced women in a slum area of Guatemala City, in the Parish of Sagrado Familia. In memory of the Filipino missionary and martyr Condrado dela Cruz, CICM, who disappeared on May 1, 1980, the parish, opened a ministry. Its primary aim is to offer women and children a chance to recover their sense of dignity, to discover their role in the family and community and to strengthen their faith in the God of Life.

The Parish of Sagrada Familia

Colonia Santa Marta was accepted by the CICM Fathers in 1985. The only reason persuading us to take it was the possibility assisting an area on the margins of society and providing a community where our students and seminarians could form their missionary attitudes. In 1989, the project started as a workshop for women and a Daycare Center for malnourished children. Today women in the workshop weave original clothes to sustain their families and the Day Care Center. The project has become a real haven for these women and children.

Dona Ana and her daughter Lucia

Ana is originally from Quiche, a province battered by civil war. She is married to a perennially absent husband, the family drunkard. In her late twenties now, she came to Guatemala City when she was sixteen and her family broken up by the warm For more than twelve years he had been working a domestic helper. Ana is a hard –working woman. She values her work as her life. Unlike other Mayan Indian women, she struggles to wear her native dress even though it is dangerous and expensive. She and her daughter speak their native Quiche and have learned Spanish as well. In the Project she portrays an inner dignity. She has learned to read and write through the program “Literacy and Human Rights.” She has a clear knowledge of Basic Labor Laws which allows her to get justice from the different families who employ her as household help. Her dream is to go back one day to her native land and be reunited with her family and send Lucia to school.

Another Story

Another story from the women and children in the Project is Alejandra Lucas and her family. For her the project has become an expression of commitment and sacrifice. Alejandra shows the natural talent of Guatemalan women in the weaving and garment industry. She sews the most perfect dressing in the workshop which is part of the Project to help women make dresses of Guatemalan fabrics. She claims that if it were not for the project she might have gone to work in the garment export factories which are known for their exploitation of young Mayan Indian women. Alejandra thought that the project to was only a means of gaining skills in garment production. However, in association with other women in the workshop, she discovered that the environment provided by the parish is a way of protecting the environment provided by the parish is a way of protecting and defending the life of women and children. Later she and her husband married in the Church with their sons as ring bearer and her daughter as one of the witnesses.

Condrado Lives On

Alejandra is a new type of leader who by transforming her own life of suffering has become a source of hope and compassion for the other women. Through the Condrado dela Cruz Project Alejandra’s life had changed and Padre Condrado form faraway Philippines, lives on and continues to help God’s poor.