The Mule´s Pass

Fr. Michael Hoban celebrating Mass at the “Mule’s Trail”, Alto Hospicio. Photo: Columbans Chile

Fr. Michael Hoban celebrating Mass at the “Mule’s Trail”, Alto Hospicio. Photo: Columbans Chile.

The Holy Family Community Centre was built in a shanty town located in the western section of the Sacred Heart parish in the municipal area of Alto Hospicio. This area has more than 40 shanty towns where most residents are immigrants from Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. Recently, many Venezuelans have arrived. Our parish has 14 shanty towns, of which “El Paso de la Mula” (The Mules Trailor Pass”) is the newest. It has filled up rapidly. 

Alto Hospicio is in the Atacama Desert and has a lot of space. People arrive, take a piece of ground, put up a shack of light material with some fence, and begin to live there. There is no electricity or sewerage. A municipal truck brings water.

With the arrival of the Sisters of Charity, the parish began a more established Migrant Ministry. Along with the sisters, the parish has actively participated in a series of solidarity actions: giving out grocery boxes, handing out blankets, offering legal counsel, providing water tanks, craft workshops and Christmas festivals.

The great problem for the migrants is that their children enter school. The Sisters of Charity offer educational coaching classes for some children. Apart from the social assistance, we celebrate Mass and prepare children for the sacraments.

According to the 2021 statistics, Alto Hospicio Town concentrates 27. 2 % of the migrant population in the Tarapacá region, placing it as the second town with the most migrants in the region. (SERMIG 2022)

For some time now, we have dreamt of a Centre where families can meet and we can continue with evangelisation and the celebration of the sacraments. This Centre would not only be for the church but open to the community in general.

Community Center Sacred Family Alto Hospicio, Chile. Photo: Columbans Chile

Community Center Sacred Family Alto Hospicio, Chile. Photo: Columbans Chile

On December 04th, this dream was realised. The Centre was built with economic aid from the parish, the Columbans, and the Sisters of Charity. Our bishop, Monseñor Isauro Covili ofm, came to celebrate the Mass and bless the Centre and its cross. Many of the residents attended. 

Monseñor Covili asked us, “Where do we find Christ?”. He reminded us that there is a special presence of Christ in the poor. For the people of the Diocese of Iquique, the shanty town “El Paso de la Mula” is a Christological place. He also invited the same families who live in the shanty town to recognise the presence of Christ amongst them and that this presence helps them to live as brothers and sisters.

Columban Fr. Michael Hoban lives and works in Chile.

Comments (2)

  1. Joseph Hoban:
    Nov 18, 2023 at 01:34 AM

    Excellent, always very proud of Fr. Michael's efforts on behalf of the poor.

    Reply

  2. Patty Hoban Scott:
    Nov 22, 2023 at 09:43 AM

    We love him dearly Father Michael!
    Doing God's work every day!

    Reply


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