This past June 13th was not only the day of the patron saint San Antonio, but it was also the day a neighboring small community of the same name inaugurated their newly built chapel.
Traditionally, the community of San Antonio had used the chapel on the property of the ranch on the edge of town, as was done last year. However, in the intervening months since, it was suggested by the area priest that San Antonio should have their own chapel instead of relying on one owned by a private individual. The community set to work, first forming a committee that was then followed by many fundraising efforts and days of construction work. It took the better part of a year, but the community built their very own chapel.
It just so happened that our friend, Elva, was one of the important figures on the committee in charge of the chapel project, and she invited us to be part of the opening day ceremonies.
The community waited patiently for the priest to travel the 4k from Yuty, who then blessed chapel. The mayor of Yuty was also in attendance and gave a moving speech regarding how the humble community of San Antonio really came together and achieved something great in the building of the chapel. Mass was held for the first time inside of the chapel, and then the figure of San Antonio was paraded out the door and the folks in attendance followed in a procession around the area. The morning concluded with snacks and drinks for everyone!
And wouldn’t you know it, but some of our friends from the children’s soup kitchen in Yuty were also in attendance.
It isn’t a true celebration without a Paraguayan asado, and so when we got to Elva’s aunt’s house after the ceremony that morning, preparations were already underway for making sopa paraguaya, an integral component of the aforementioned asado. Allison, eager to master the art of sopa making before heading back to the States, jumped right in with the other señoras and started helping. By the time the sopa pans were filled with the batter and placed in the tatakua, or oven, Allison had made a new friend.
In the midst of sopa making we all took a break for lunch. The soup de jour was something called puchero, which is apparently made up of lots of different parts of the cow that rarely wind up on a dinner plate in the U.S. Despite my unfamiliarity with the chunks floating around in my bowl, upon trying it, it wasn’t half bad.
The inauguration of the new chapel finished up later that evening in grand style. Plates filled with grilled beef, boiled yucca, sopa paraguaya, and rice salad were distributed to all who were present. A small band comprised of two guitarists and an accordion player carried on long into the evening inside the new chapel.
It was a privilege for us to be part of the inauguration of this important new building in the community of San Antonio.