The foundation of our Association dates back to the first democratic town halls in our town. The “San Francisco de Assísi” Family Home was opened in Córdoba on January 7, 1977, in a small centre for 15 patients. Many ladies attended the house to collaborate with the brothers, just as it happens now in greater numbers with our volunteers.
In December 1979, two collaborators, Mª Teresa Jiménez and Pilar Gómez, approached the Deputy Mayor Don Antonio Herrera, asking him whether there was a possibility of those involved in the Three Kings parade to visit the family home and the Three Wise Men to deliver gifts to the residents. Antonio Herrera, who until then was unaware of the house, was not only committed to the idea but convinced his colleagues from other parties to visit the house during the parade, but also sought donations for gifts to the residents.
The visit took place and the councilors who played the role of the ‘ Kings’ -one of whom was Herrera himself- provided a deeply moving experience, convening later a commission that would eventually be the basis for an association to help the Brothers of White Cross. Thus, the Association was born on March 14, 1980, with the main purpose of collaborating both personally and financially with the congregation of the brothers of White Cross.
Our Association’s main purpose is to give assistance to those benefitting from the “San Francisco of Assísi” Family Home of the Franciscan Brothers of White Cross in Córdoba, all of whom are mentally and physically handicapped to varying degrees and with limited financial resources. For this reason, our activity is to collaborate, with the Franciscan Brothers, in the mental and physical development of our residents, with the aim of improving their quality of life as people, with these physical and mental deficiencies, which are getting worse with the passage of time, and to create a home for them in order to develop their full potential.
We have been at the side of our “children” and the Franciscan Brothers of Cruz Blanca for more than 40 years now. I clarify here that familiarly we call those assisted “children”, but these are children, youths and adults, some of whom are as much as 80 years old.
The Association’s activities are very numerous: we continue with the traditional visit of the Three Wise Men, we organize May Crosses, charity dinners and multiple activities that we carry out periodically and annually, assuming their costs. We contribute to their vacations to the beach, trips and visits to different places, hiking trails… We went with a group of 14 “children” to see Pope Francis and have completed the Camino de Santiago four times.
Currently we number 400 members. The board of directors that we have is like a family, a meeting of friends in which each one, within his/her possibilities, always tries to help in what he can and in what he knows best.
Without a doubt, putting ourselves on the path of the Franciscan Brothers of Cruz Blanca has helped us to learn a lot “it is another way of understanding life, of love, of service, of helping others, very far from the materialism that moves us every day and harasses us more and more”. The Association of Friends of Cruz Blanca de Córdoba and its Paths – Miguel Ángel Caracuel
History of the Caminos of the White Cross of Córdoba
The Camino de Santiago occupies a particular place in the Association since it has organized and carried out walks on 4 occasions, assuming the costs of all of them based on the donations of our associates and benefactors.
We have travelled it four times:
-First Way (2006): French Way from Arzua to Santiago, with 10 “children”
-Segundo Camino (2010): Portuguese Camino from Tui to Santiago, with 14 “children”
-Third Way (2019): Spiritual way from O Porriño to Santiago, with 10 “boys” and 5 “girls”
-Cuarto Camino (2023): Camino del Norte from Vilalba to Santiago with 11 “boys” and 4 “girls”
We have just completed this fourth Camino, on April 21, 2023, after travelling six stages from Villalba to Santiago de Compostela. Through this experience, we want to explain what we are seeking and what we have found on the Camino.
The general objectives of our project were the development of habits of coexistence among the residents outside of the “San Francisco de Assísi” Family Home. Then, to develop physical activities in contact with nature and to observe the behaviour of these participants in a leisure activity outside of the usual daily contact with their colleagues and monitors.
To carry out this activity we have had 15 volunteer members of the Association, including two doctors, two members of the armed forces, four University and Institute professors, three teachers, members of the judiciary and two Franciscan Brothers from Cruz Blanca.
We have defined this Path as a Path of Values and Commitment, in which 15 champions have participated, who have accompanied us and who have shown what they are in previous situations, among others that harsh pandemic experience, with isolation and solitude, with no hugs, no outings or contact with people, except with their caregivers hidden in PPE… And, of course, they had already demonstrated on the other routes we have done.
On this occasion, as in their daily activity, they are our teachers of values: Gratitude, sacrifice, unity, ability to share, support, help, show solidarity, generosity… But always with a smile, with joy without asking for anything in return. . And that is one of the fundamental characteristics of this and the other paths: being able to transmit values, something that unfortunately is increasingly absent as the days go by.
And along with values, there is also commitment. The commitment of all those who, in one way or another, have collaborated in making these excursions possible: Córdoba City Council, Provincial Council and University, Grupo Piedra, Association of the Mozarabic Way and Córdoba Civil Guard Command. The commitment of the volunteers, women and men, who made this Way possible and commitment of the Brothers who were also with us.
Thanks to all those who make volunteering possible every day from the White Cross association, also from the media, contributing your grain of sand to this cause. And as for these these ‘Children’, they all deserve not only our affection but also our greatest respect and always give them equal opportunities to participate in whatever is organized.
Brother Superior tells us: “For me these have been very beautiful days that have helped me reflect, strengthen myself and become a better Franciscan brother, it is the only important thing for me”. And another brother comments: “I have no words to thank you for all the good you do me and in these wonderful days that I have had. May God, who is rich in mercy, fill you with blessings and beatitude and lots of kisses and hugs for all”.
And we reproduce another testimony, from a volunteer: “The need to seek peace and meaning in your life impels you to embark on this adventure, where you carry a loaded backpack, you carry too all those feelings of restlessness that stagger and paralyze you, that make you feel like the biblical blind man filled with fears of stress, urgency, sadness, anxieties… But on this path you discover values that all the good people who have accompanied you have been showing you: friendship, affection, dedication, sacrifice, sincerity… Thank you for everything that day by day you have taught, but, above all, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be so close to Christ, alive and risen”.
Undoubtedly, these days of the Way, of light and life, dedication and sacrifice, peace and friendship, commitment and values, have helped us to awaken in all of us the best that we have within ourselves and to reach the values that in a simple and precise way summarizes the motto of the Franciscan brothers,
PEACE AND GOODNESS
And of course, with the hope that the Apostle Santiago continues to guide the Path of our life.
Miguel Angel Caracuel
President of the Association of Friends of Cruz Blanca de Córdoba