A project to end the drug scourge in Uruguay has drawn inspiration from the recently canonized parents of the “Little Flower” Saint Therese of Lisieux.
Saint Louis Martin and Saint Zelie Guerin, whom Pope Francis
canonized in October 2015, are the namesakes of a chapel in the
headquarters of the Renacer Project.
The Catholic initiative, whose name
refers to being born again, has worked for 28 years to aid the full
rehabilitation of drug addicts and their families.
Cardinal Daniel Sturla of Montevideo celebrated the dedication Mass on Dec. 28, the Solemnity of the Holy Innocents.
“How good it is that this chapel is dedicated to those holy parents, a
holy couple. Here we see the victory of love, purity, beauty, and the
joy of the family gathered together,” he said.
The Mass featured the enthronement of first class relics of the
couple, which came directly from their shrine at Alençon, France.
In his homily, Cardinal Sturla recalled the history of these two
saints. Both had asked to consecrate their lives to God. Louis wanted to
join the monks of the Great Saint Bernard Monastery in the Alps. Zelie
wanted to join the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul.
Neither one was accepted since God had another plan for them. They
met and their rapport was so quick that they were married on July 13,
1858, just three months after they first met.
Nine children were born to this union, four of whom died prematurely.
Among the five surviving daughters was Saint Therese, the future patron
saint of the missions.
Cardinal Sturla quoted the words Saint Therese dedicated to her parents: “They were more worthy of heaven than of earth.”
“The joy of a truly Christian family is to experience the joy and
honor it means that Jesus has laid his eyes on one of their children and
called him or her to the priestly or religious life. And until there
are many families in Uruguay who feel that, how far we will really be
from being Christians,” the cardinal said.
For the cardinal, the key to this marriage was “the systematic life
they lived of daily Mass, prayer, meditation and teaching the children
about God from an early age.”
“Christian parents know that the most important thing they can hand
on to their children is the faith. It is the footprint that God left in
each one of us,” he said.
The Chapel of Saint Louis Martin and Saint Zelie Guerin is the
Renacer Project’s third chapel. Its dedication coincided with the 25th
anniversary of the ordination of its founding priest, Carmelite Father
“What do Zelie, Louis and their daughters hand on to us from this
place, which was a stable and now is a little chapel? The beauty of
marriage, the beauty of the family. That great school of humanity and
holiness,” Fr. Larrique said near the close of Mass.
With the Renacer Project, he explained, “we try to tell everyone that
life is a very precious gift, and that you have to take care of it.”