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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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Joseph Benedict Cottolengo: In some ways Joseph exemplified St. Francis’ advice, "Let us begin to serve the Lord God, for up to now we have made little or no progress" (<i>1 Celano, </i>#103). 
<p>Joseph was the eldest of 12 children. Born in Piedmont, he was ordained for the Diocese of Turin in 1811. Frail health and difficulty in school were obstacles he overcame to reach ordination. </p><p>During Joseph’s lifetime Italy was torn by civil war while the poor and the sick suffered from neglect. Inspired by reading the life of St. Vincent de Paul and moved by the human suffering all around him, Joseph rented some rooms to nurse the sick of his parish and recruited local young women to serve as staff. </p><p>In 1832 at Voldocco, Joseph founded the House of Providence which served many different groups (the sick, the elderly, students, the mentally ill, the blind). All of this was financed by contributions. Popularly called "the University of Charity," this testimonial to God’s goodness was serving 8,000 people by the time of Joseph’s beatification in 1917. </p><p>To carry on his work, Joseph organized two religious communities, the Brothers of St. Vincent de Paul and the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul. Joseph, who had joined the Secular Franciscans as a young man, was canonized in 1934.</p> American Catholic Blog The image of God! This is what it means to be human! We are not just a bunch of cells randomly thrown together by some impersonal forces. Rather, we reflect an eternal God who knew us from before we were made and purposely called us into being.

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