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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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Giles: Despite the fact that much about St. Giles is shrouded in mystery, we can say that he was one of the most popular saints in the Middle Ages. Likely, he was born in the first half of the seventh century in southeastern France. That is where he built a monastery that became a popular stopping-off point for pilgrims making their way to Compostela in Spain and the Holy Land.<br /><br />In England, many ancient churches and hospitals were dedicated to Giles. One of the sections of the city of Brussels is named after him. In Germany, Giles was included among the so-called 14 Holy Helpers, a popular group of saints to whom people prayed, especially for recovery from disease and for strength at the hour of death. Also among the 14 were Sts. Christopher, Barbara and Blaise. Interestingly, Giles was the only non-martyr among them. Devotion to the "Holy Helpers" was especially strong in parts of Germany and in Hungary and Sweden. Such devotion made his popularity spread. Giles was soon invoked as the patron of the poor and the disabled.<br /><br />The pilgrimage center that once drew so many fell into disrepair some centuries after Giles' death. American Catholic Blog The ascension is about the final reunion of what appeared to be separated for a while: earth and heaven, human and divine, matter and Spirit. If the Christ is the archetype of the full human journey, now we know how it all resolves itself in the end. “So that where I am, you also will be” (John 14:3).

 
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