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No Greater Love: Operation Pedro Pan View Comments
By Maria de Lourdes Ruiz Scaperlanda

A Pedro Pan sits on a Miami seawall near St. Raphael House. All the boys would look out to sea there and reminisce about Cuba; now they laugh to realize Cuba was not actually in that direction.

AT THE AGE OF 10, Oscar Pichardo left behind his parents, friends, possessions and native land. Oscar and his brother Jesús were among 14,048 unaccompanied Cuban minors between the ages of six and 18 who were airlifted out of Cuba to the United States after Fidel Castro took power. Their parents were not allowed to leave Cuba.

It has been 50 years since this grassroots effort nicknamed Operation Pedro Pan took place, yet the details still read like a Communist-era spy novel—a clandestine underground movement in Communist Cuba, C.I.A. and State Department assistance, an activity kept secret from the U.S. media, and a young Irish priest in Miami coordinating the efforts.

But for Oscar and most fellow Pedro Panes (pronounced “Pah-ness”), as they call themselves, this implausible spy story is first and foremost a story of love—the measure of a love so great, so unselfish, that it moved parents seeking safety for their children to send them unaccompanied to a foreign country.

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María de Lourdes Ruiz Scaperlanda is a Cuban-American living in Norman, Oklahoma. She is the author of five books, including The Journey: A Guide for the Modern Pilgrim (Loyola, 2004). See www.mymaria.net.

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Alphonsus Rodriguez: Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer. 
<p>Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters’ home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation. </p><p>Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations. </p><p>His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including St. Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’s life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems. </p><p>Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.</p> American Catholic Blog People mess up, and it’s especially hard to watch as our children and other young people go down paths we know are likely to lead to heartbreak. Providing gentle guidance when it’s needed, and love even when that guidance isn’t followed, helps them to start fresh.

 
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