20 Aug In the Company of Angels | Franciscans, Youth and Faith
The word “accompaniment” captures an essential element of “Franciscan Presence.” We enter people’s lives reverently and humbly. We walk with them, sharing the Good News of Jesus by sharing in the joys and struggles of their lives. This is what we do at Valley of the Angels Orphanage.
Valley of the Angels Orphanage in Guatemala was opened by Immaculate Conception Province (USA) in 1988, to educate and care for abandoned and orphaned children. Today we welcome any child in need.
How do we know that we are making a Franciscan difference in the lives of these children? They are not shy in telling us. Let me share with you some of what they have told me.
Sheily found consolation at Valley of the Angels: “I am never alone. It is a place where love and peace are found in every corner and in every person.” As Julio said, “When I am sad or discouraged (the Franciscans) always accompany and encourage me, I never feel alone. I discovered God’s love.” For Maria, this is a fruit of prayer: “When we feel alone and without strength we pray. It is the key to our strength and our faith.”
Love, peace, encouragement, and the joy of knowing you are not alone. People are walking with you, and so does God. These are qualities that describe a healthy Christian family. This is the kind of family we strive to create at Valley of the Angels: a healthy and happy Christian family enlivened by the spirit of St. Francis.
Sheily counts on the Franciscans “who are like my parents and whosupport and always encourage me in everything.” The same is true for Julio: “I like to live here in Valley because we are all like brothers and we are a great family united in the love of God,” because the Franciscans “are people full of the presence of God that inspire the lives of many children here in Valle.”
What a joy to hear this! This is what Franciscan accompaniment hopes for: to awaken in people the desire to accompany others in their joys and struggles, so that they too might know the Good News of Jesus in their lives. Please pray for our children. Know that they pray for you!
Fr. Michael Della Penna, OFM
Valley of the Angels Orphanage
To learn more about Valley of the Angels Orphanage, please visit its website: www.valleyoftheangelsorphanage.com.
This article is part of a series profiling the work that friars are doing throughout the world to accompany young people in faith. These stories are only a sample of the ways countless friars walk with young people today. As we Franciscans prepare for the 2018 Synod of Bishops Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. May these stories inspire all who read them to an ever-deeper commitment to sharing the Joy of the Gospel with our young sisters and brothers.