“The Augustinian Recollect Spirituality offers a way of life that makes one and the rest happy”

Q. Guillermo, I am lucky to have coincided with you in the retreat of the Secular Fraternity and in the meeting of the CARDI volunteers. The two key dimensions of today’s laical life are spirituality and charitable service. What do you do as a volunteer in this Augustinian Recollect Center for the integral development of Mexico?
R. The work that I do is mainly in the area of administration. We begin with trying to systematize donations, i.e., programming of fundraising activities like the annual raffle, annual breakfast for a cause, establishing linkages with foundations, with possible material or financial donors, contact with benefactors and with fraternities supportive of the institution, the follow up of the activities related to the construction and the adjustment in the new building, the purchasing of furnishings, human resources and transactions with the government agencies.

Q. What is CARDI all about?
A. It is the Center for Accompaniment and Recovery for Integral Development (CARDI). It offers space for persons, most of them from the inland, whose life is characterized by extreme poverty, who come to the city to accompany their sick loved ones to the hospitals, mostly in a situation of pain, anxiety, sadness, loneliness. When they come to CARDI they are received with love and affection, readily offered with accompaniment, help and availability to listen to their travails. The help comes also in medicines, in food, and other means that help them regain their human dignity. CARDI does not simply wait for anyone to come, but its volunteers go to the hospitals to offer company to the sick, go to the emergency rooms to offer bread and coffee, bring the relatives to the bus stations or to their houses. Besides, CARDI also offers varied courses, workshops, certificates for everyone who is interested in so important a task as human development.

CARDI is the Center for Accompaniment and Recovery for Integral Development (CARDI). It offers space for persons, most of them from the inland, whose life is characterized by extreme poverty.
120 Volunteers to Serve Other in CARDI

Q. How many volunteers are there and what do they do?
A. There are 120 volunteers. Everyone is given a task according to his capacity, age, health condition or available time. We can say that there are 25 for the task of giving company to the patients in the hospital, 35 in the distribution center, 15 for the distribution of the meal stubs, 25 for the distrib ution of bread and coffee in the emergency rooms, and on Saturdays 20 young people come to prepare and serve the food to the indigents and have some formation.

Q. How do you prepare the volunteers?
R. First they are interviewed to know the reason why they have come for the volunteer work. Then they are made to understand the need to take the courses on volunteer work and to live the CARDI experience so they can feel the environment and the needs that others have. In the courses that they take up they are introduced into Tanatology, Logotherapy, Self-esttem, Spirituality, and regularly they receive as a group psychotherapy which they also need.

Q. How was CARDI established and from whom does it receive help to keep up its services?
R. CARDI is a project of the Order of Augustinian Recollects which began in 1961 to answer the constant demand of the patients and their relatives who would come to the hospitals in Mexico City with limited resources. In an assembly of religious before the Chapter, with Fr. Sergio Sanchez Moreno as Vicar of Mexico, the center was registered as a non-profit civic organization before the notary public Arturo Adolfo Llorente under the name of Center of Accompaniment and Recovery of Integral Development whose founders were Frs. Francisco Javier Acero and Rafael Castillo. Its objectives among others are to offer the sick and their relatives a resting place, food, medicines, showers, laundry, lodging, spiritual and psychological attention, human development and social oriented courses and workshops. Presently the management board is composed of Fr. Francisco Javier Acero Perez (President), Fr. Felix Troncoso (Treasurer) and Tere Garcia (Secretary).

CARDI is able to get its means through annual raffles, benefit breakfast, donations from foundations (among them are F. Chrysler, F. Julita T del Valle, F. Alfredo H. Helu, F. Herdez), monthly charges to the credit cards, from individual persons and through the courses and workshops. Also donations in kind are received like medicines, medical equipment, food, furniture and other materials.

Q. What values do the volunteers discover in CARDI?
R. There are many and very important – love of neighbor, charity, human sensitivity, service to others even to non Catholics, the integrity of the family, personal growth, understanding, tolerance, forgiveness, disposition to listen.

Q. Which areas you think need to be reinforced in order for the CARDI to grow and become stronger?
R. There is a need to promote more volunteer participation from among the male and the youth sectors, integrate a council of honor or patronage that will strongly support the institution, establish a high level academic structure that will address issues of human development, and find ways to provide the operation of the administration with the most advanced technology.

The spirituality is that which allows me to live a life of faith and be able to help with generosity and enthusiasm in the CARDI.
The Augustinian Recollect Spirituality, a Crucial Help

Q. You are also a member of the Augustinian Recollect Spirituality. Does the lay Augustinian Recollect spirituality help you in your volunteer work?
A. Certainly, the spirituality is that which allows me to live a life of faith and be able to help with generosity and enthusiasm in the CARDI. I believe that we as human beings are tended towards routine, inertias and vices that erode our souls and make us lose our love for God and neighbor. However, being in the fraternity is of great help because our meetings indeed serve as occasions to recharge ourselves with energy, joy and enthusiasm. The spirituality prevents one from falling into the routine and vices. It rather helps in injecting initiatives and ideas in order to keep one working.

Q. What do you think can this spirituality do to the men and women of today?
R. This spirituality offers something very important: a way of life to become happy and to make others happy. It offers a sacramental life, familial life, opportunities for apostolate, accompaniment, formation, orientation, life together in community, and friendship. The men and women of today we are all urged to take these gifts as antidote to the prevalent feeling of God’s absence with all the negative effects it entails.