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Meeting of 22nd November 2012

Meeting of 22nd November 2012

Speaker: Father Claudio from the Church of Santo Cristo del Calvario in Marbella.

Father Claudio spoke to us about his work in helping the very poor and destitute people who live in the area around his Church in the centre of Marbella.

Father Claudio Receiving toys from our Club - December 2011

He told us that he works closely with Caritas, which has an office at the Church, to help the very needy people of central Marbella.  One of the important parts of their work, at present, is to help the families from other countries, who have recently become destitute in Spain, to return to their countries of origin. This week, Father Claudio and Caritas are trying to raise approximately 3,100 euros to pay the airfares of an Argentinian woman and her 4 children to return to Argentina, where she has a large family who will help her. Over the past year the church and Caritas have paid for 15 tickets to South America to return people to their families

Many people who came to Spain to work a number of years ago and who have settled down with their families in Marbella, have become unemployed over the past few years because of the serious economic recession. These people and many local people have finished their savings and are no longer entitled to social security support. Consequently, they have no money to live on and have come to Father Claudio for help in feeding and clothing their children, paying rent and electricity bills and in paying for medicines. Although medical care is free in Spain to people who have paid Social Security payments from their wages, they must pay for prescription medicines, even for children, old people and the chronically sick.  Father Claudio gives help according to need and pays no attention to the religions or nationalities of the needy people. He is paying about 1,000 euros per month to the local pharmacists to ensure that sick people are able to have the medicines that they need. The pharmacists are frequently foregoing their preparation charges and only charging the Church for the actual cost of the medicines.

Last year 1,356 people were supported by Caritas. Last week there were more than 40 people waiting in line outside the church to ask for food, clothes, rent, electricity and medicines. In 2011, this church and Caritas spent 22,000 Euros in helping the poor. In the past 6 months, since May 2012, they have spent 24,000 Euros. Father Claudio has plans to reform the area of the church that is for offices, meeting rooms for AA and for aid organisations to meet those needing help. He hopes to increase the number of private meeting rooms from 4 to 10 and so avoid the long queues outside the church.

The crisis is huge and particularly the crisis of values. He believes that the Hands of God can fill the empty hands of people. If we have nothing, we can fill their hands with love and prayer but if we have money, we can give food and clothes, money to pay rent and electricity bills and to buy essential medicines.  Because his funds are always limited, Father Claudio always has to choose the most urgent cases.

Children need to have toys as well as clothes, food and medicine. Last year our Rotary Club provided a large number of new toys to Father Claudio to give to the children who came to the Three Kings party at the Church of Sto Cristo del Calvario. The pizza oven, donated by our Club in 2011, is used regularly to provide  hot meals to the very poor and will be used to cook chicken for the Three Kings children’s party.

Father Claudio has signed a contract with Bancosol Alimentos, the food bank of the Costa del Sol, but does not know from month to month how much food they will deliver.

Paul asked “what is the priority now, at Christmas?” Father Claudio said that he hopes that our Club will be able to donate toys again for the children to receive at Three Kings, as well as dried and tinned food and money to pay for prescribed medicines. He believes that if we are generous, God will be generous to us.

In reply to a question about whether Roman Catholics in need are given preference over people of other denominations and religions, the Father replied that he gives no religious preference, he gives help purely according to the most urgent needs. He then told us the opening hours of the Sacristy for receiving donations of clothes and food.