Dear Brothers and Sisters,
With great joy we welcome the news, released this morning by the Holy Father in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace, where he chaired the third hour and Ordinary Public Consistory for the Canonization of five Blesseds, among which is Blessed Manuel González García.
It was an enormous task of evangelization among us. From it I wish to highlight two particular aspects necessary for the Church in this time: the social dimension and the centrality of the Eucharist. They excelled in their activity during the years of pastor in Huelva and are also proposed as targets of his episcopal ministry: "To my steps I do not want more than one way, which leads to the Tabernacle and I know [that as I] walk down that path [I will] find many kinds of hunger and fed [them] up with all bread; I will discover poor and poor children and I have some left over money and aid to lift their schools and shelters to aid their poverty, I stumble with sad disconsolately, with blind, deaf, maimed and even killed the soul or the body and bring them down upon them the joy of life and health".
Along with the announcement of Jesus Christ, joy of the world, and Savior of men, the social dimension corresponds to the authentic and integral sense of the evangelising mission. Pope Francis says in the Apostolic exhortation of the joy of the Gospel: "I would now like to share my concerns about the social dimension of evangelization, precisely because if this dimension is not properly brought out, there is a constant risk of distorting the authentic and integral meaning of the mission of evangelization."
Blessed Manuel, when he arrived in Huelva, quickly realised that there were a large number of children out of school. The school was "a very big and very sad necessity". And he dedicated his first efforts to involve them in the creation of schools. It came first, the Sacred Heart, entrusted to the direction of D. Manuel Siurot, in the old neighborhood church of San Francisco. Thank God, this Blessed work [began] still alive today in the building of the seminary, with the Diocesan College in which they study about fifteen hundred children today. Then annexed premises fitted out to the sanctuary of the tape to educate the children of the settlements of the dashes high and low, on the slopes of the Conquero. While, at the other end of the city, "taking into account also the unfortunate neglect of those neighborhoods in the field, any official or private school, priests decided to give that vast portion of our rural parish church and schools... and we rented some existing stores face the slaughterhouse, which form the Tinderbox street corner, low in the Huerta de los Perales and the street leading to the site of the well sweet." These temporary facilities were replaced by other definitive, origin of the current College of the Teresianas, in Avenida de Guatemala.
The cultural promotion of the children claimed a supplement for the social and occupational integration of young people. In the course following the inauguration of the schools of the Sacred Heart, that is to say in the year 1909, Bl. Manuel tended bridges between the school and the world of work. Created a Board of apprentices, work which he called His "Darling" a farm for young people that were geared to work in agriculture and livestock.
"In the very heart of the Gospel is community life and commitment to each other" (EG 177), says Father Francisco. It is clear, in the light of all its initiatives and the whole of his teaching, including, in particular, of the commitment to the poor. Thus the blessed Manuel practiced it already: "Poorest of the poor, arouse little interest in its passage through the world!" He was present among those who lived still in the caves of the hillocks of the costs of the butcher and the District of San Sebastian, in order to learn about their problems and sufferings, tune in with their troubles and helping them making them protagonists of their own liberation.
He had to participate in the horror that was the hunger among thousands of Huelva. In the winter of 1913 flooded the marshes in the Tinto and odiel, overwhelmed by heavy rains. At the same time there were strikes in the mining sector of Riotinto, which added the forced mooring of fishing fleet because of a conflict with the Portuguese fishermen. Poverty overflowed in the town: more than nineteen thousand workers left wages to their homes for four months. The archpriest launched a manifesto to the charitable and generous heart of the Huelva entitled "Hunger in Huelva", which can be summarized in these textual phrases: "situation so precarious that it is taking desolation to many homes, and without prejudging issues extremely sensitive and demanding exquisite serenity and prudence, I think my duty exciting, though I think they don't need it, charity and zeal of the Reverends priests and good Catholics of Huelva in favour of both sad home and helpless."
The fact of the canonization also highlights another dimension, this well known activity of Bl. Manuel. I do not want, He said, "that in my life as a Bishop, as before in my life as a priest, distress my soul more than by a single penalty that is the largest of all, the abandonment of the Tabernacle, and rejoice rather than with a single joy, the Tabernacle accompanied". The Eucharist is the source and summit of evangelization and of the whole life of the Church.
As I wrote in the letter of this Diocesan Plan of Evangelization, it is especially important to discover the value of the Eucharist on Sunday and the celebration of the Day of the Lord, as an expression of our faith in the Risen Lord, always present among us, which is our joy, around we experience the joy of being brothers and belonging to a community of faith.
The 16th day of October of this year 2016 will be canonization [of the] bishop of Palencia, founder of the Eucharistic Union and Reparative Eucharistic Missionary Sisters of Nazareth. The two associations have the specific purpose of promoting the participation of all Christians in the Eucharist. The first of these, which is extended by many countries of Europe and America, was born in the Tabernacle of the parish of San Pedro, of Huelva, on March 4, 1910.
The diocese has created a commission to organize the different initiatives that, on the occasion of this happy event, will be carried out. I encourage you to participate in sharing the joy of the Church of Huelva.
With affection I bless you.
✠ José Vilaplana Blasco
Bishop of Huelva
Huelva, 20 of June, 2016