Santiago (Fides Service) –"Where is the One who is born?”(cfr Mt 2,2) is the slogan of the traditional ‘Christmas on the Streets’ initiative organised by the office for university Pastoral in the Archdiocese of Santiago in Chile. Every year the initiative involves hundreds of students, teachers and other staff with their respective families go out onto the streets on Christmas Eve to adore Christ present in needy brothers and sisters.
Taking into account the diverse situations of the people encountered on the streets, old people, tramps, sick people, prostitutes, street children, participants attend a formation course on 13 December which helps them to assume an attitude of great respect and tact with regard to the people with whom they will share a moment of Christmas joy and brotherhood and as well as alleviating their suffering. The preparatory meeting also serves to assign city areas to the different groups and to plan activities to render the visit to the most needy brothers and sisters of the Chilean society a moment of joy.
Usually there is a prayer, selected according to the place and the people encountered, followed by a moment of fraternity and sharing which may include a small party, singing or simply listening to the tale of troubles these people have to tell.
On Wednesday 24 December 2003, from 7 –7.30pm., the students and families will gather in the cathedral of Santiago where His Eminence Cardinal Javier Errazuriz, Archbishop of Santiago, their Pastor, will bless them and send them out to visit their brothers and sisters in all manner of places, identified previously by the organisers. Between 11pm to 12.30 they will return Cathedral for a solemn Mass of the Nativity of the Lord at the end of which the “ Christmas on the Streets missionaries” will return to their families to share with the loved ones their experience of mission on the streets of Santiago. (R.Z.) (Fides Service 11/12/2003; lines 24; words 335)