We are Andrea and José who today live in General Pico, La Pampa, Argentina. We have been married for 28 years and have three children: Rafael aged 27 years, married to Yohana (who will become parents in January) Gastón aged 21 years and Gina, 18 years. Our parents are Maria and Antonio Vota and Lidia and Roberto Paoletti. Our first encounter was with Sr. Leni in 2008, in the Primer Jornada Diocesana de Niños (First Diocesan Day for Children) in Santa Rosa, La Pampa, the city where we were living at that time, for reasons of work. On that day, we had been entrusted with the task of preparing the altar for the Celebration of Holy Mass that was to be presided over by the Bishop, Msgr. Aurelio Maria Poli (now a Cardinal, who replaced Pope Francis in Buenos Aires).
At the end of the function, Sr. Marykutty, the Delegate Superior, invited us to form part of the LASA group. It was a surprise, which we received with great joy and we started to accompany the Sisters in their apostolic activities, in a locality on the outskirts, Plan 5000 where, thanks to the Sisters, a beautiful, big Church dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel was built. Meanwhile, we also took up the task of inviting others to be part of the Family, and after several ups and downs, now we meet on a monthly basis for formation and to share our experiences and reflections with Carina and Rolando, Javier, Alina, Maria, Analía and Miguel, María del Carmen and her husband Oscar. From a distance, we constantly support spiritually and morally the groups of the LASA Family of Formosa and Bragado, thanks to whatsApp.
A Unique Experience: When we were getting into the knowledge of our Founders and their spirituality, as well as the path undertaken by Blessed Mother Enrichetta, the opportunity presented itself to us, to make a trip with the purpose of getting to know the Institute of St. Ann at its origins. We began our pilgrimage in the Year of Faith, starting from the Generalate in Rome, where, thanks to the Sisters of the General Council and of the Community, everything was arranged and prepared excellently and with unconditional availability. We were able to visit most of the holy places of Rome, as well as participate in the last Angelus of Pope Benedict. We also visited Assisi, Castelfidardo, Loreto and Ancona from where we could get to the place of the origins of Andrea, discovered through the birth certificate of her grandfather. In every place we felt at home and language was not a barrier, thanks to Sr. Ann Celine who had previously given us some Italian lessons.
Our journey continued towards Carmagnola, in the north of Italy, the land of Mother Enrichetta, then a visit to the Community of Leinì and arrival at Rivarolo Canavese, the birthplace of my grandfather. In Turin, we celebrated our Silver Wedding Anniversary with the Family of St. Ann, with a beautiful religious ceremony celebrated by the Rector of the Salesian community of Valdocco and with a choir that could be called “Angels”, who sang in our Spanish language. Back in Rome, we concluded our pilgrimage in which we were able to put together, in the Year of Faith, the journey of the Institute of the Sisters of St. Ann under the watchful eye of our Founders and good St. Ann, in the land of our forefathers. First Latin-American Congress: In this journey as LASA, we want to give witness to the Charism, handed down by the Founders Carlo and Giulia and which we share with the Sisters. Our family was given the invitation to participate in the First Latin-American Congress of LASA, in Londrina (Brazil) with the aim of continuing to grow in the light of the Gospel, as was the experience of our Founders, and strengthen our integration into the big Family.
After this wonderful experience, we returned with the great desire in our hearts to live the message of Mother Enrichetta and be bearers of the saving Word, and with this longing we met the members of the LASA Family and the Sisters. The journey of the LASA Family: A very significant moment for all of us was the celebration of the Silver Jubilee of the presence of the Sisters here in Argentina. We started the celebrations by visiting the town of 25 de Mayo, La Pampa, where the mission had begun and we ended the year with a celebration in which we, the five members of LASA Family, committed ourselves to live according to the Spirit of the Congregation, having the Founders as our models. The festivities ended with a fraternal agape at which about 200 parishioners were present. We were very honoured to have the presence of Sr. Fátima Marafon, General Councillor, Sr. Berta Alicia recently appointed Delegate of the mission of Argentina, and all the Sisters of the other communities. During this event a Decree was read, issued by the State Executive Authority, in which the work that is being carried out by the Sisters received the recognition by the State. In this year of grace the great effort of the Sisters of the three communities was rewarded with the realization of the First National Meeting of the LASA Family, at Bragado from 8 th to 10th January, during which we shared the riches of our Charism, we exchanged experiences and enjoyed recreational activities through various games. The best moment was the gathering in the Shrine of Our Lady of Lujan in order to entrust to Mary the journey of this portion of the Lay Family that is taking its first steps.
The election of the members of the Coordinating Committee was the final act in which were elected: Nora from Bragado, Ema from Formosa and myself, José Luis, who has also been given the task of national coordinator, which involves more sacrifice and availability. In keeping with the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the LASA group of Santa Rosa, together with Sr. Leticia and Sr. Jyothi, carried out a Mission Week at Falucho and Van Praet, little towns of the northern part of the Pampa; small communities, which because of the distance, have the possibility of the Eucharistic celebration only every 15 days. As a married couple of LASA, Andrea and myself, continue our apostolic service for a group of 35 children and young people in the Parish of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei in General Pico. We have been working with the youth to renovate a Chapel in a rural area, we visit the sick, preparing them for the visit of the Priest, Fr. Fabian to receive the Viaticum. We take as our model, Mother Enrichetta, who used to say: “Genuine love for God is also true love of neighbour”. In our hearts there is only one great dessire: to thank the Sisters because they welcomed us and we have had the chance to know them.
Andrea and José