Danza Azteca dancers
Centro Comunitario Santa Cruz
Community Center

The community center now has a place for meetings and presentations and activities for the women of the parish.

Women at the Community Center
People eat at the picnic tables at the new community center

A place for outdoor dining lets the community come together for celebrations and sharing.

By: Fr. Domenico Guarino, mccj

On July 16, the Santa Cruz Community Center reopened its doors. It was a day of celebration filled with great joy for the Holy Cross parish in Los Angeles, California. The team members had the opportunity to showcase the activities that will be offered by the center.

The broader goal of the community center is “uniting people from diverse backgrounds and promoting community participation to work toward a common good.” The community center would be a benchmark for all people in need. It is vital to not ignore the problems that people are facing today, especially in this part of the city. How can this be done?

Firstly, promoting culture and creating a “culture of encounter.” The community center wants to be a place that creates new relationships and leads one to experience fraternity and communion that transcends differences and boundaries. A place where people can grow in the awareness of being part of the same universal family. Echoing the words of Pope Francis: “We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family” (Laudato Si, 52).

Secondly, the center plans to offer important services including healthcare, mental care, English courses, technology, student and family resources, as well as family well-being.

Additionally, the center offers, for women and men, a room to discuss relationships, to share experiences, and to find out about one’s rights. Furthermore, the center will activate new individual and group paths to prevent and combat all forms of gender-based violence.

Finally, the concern surrounding environmental problems and migrants is important for the community center. In his encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis encourages us to listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor (no 49). He wrote “Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society” (Laudato Si, 91). We are committed to protecting our common house and to building a culture of hospitality and solidarity with migrants. We would like the community center to be a structure for intertwining personal, social, and ecological perspectives.

Dedicated volunteers express their excitement over the reopening of the Santa Cruz Community Center:

“We are excited to be part of the opening of “El Centro Comunitario.” This center is a dream that was planted in all of us by Fr. Domingo. His hard work and missionary heart inspire us to give back and to do something for others. Our goal as a community center is to provide services such as mental health and immigration support, as well as resources and skills that men and women need to transform their lives.”

Needless to say, the center offers the possibility of getting involved as a volunteer. Volunteering improves skills, allows one to experience a different way of life, and simply to do more with one’s own life. It is evident that volunteering encourages civic responsibility.

As a team, we ask for the grace of growing and walking together in humility. It is necessary to trust and understand each other and to acknowledge the path we must embark on because it is just a start.

Fr. Domenico Guarino, mccj, is a Comboni Missionary serving Holy Cross parish in Los Angeles, California. Prior to his assignment to the North American Province, he worked with migrant communities in Sicily.

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