On August 17, a few minutes after 5 pm, a van became a deadly weapon on Las Ramblas in Barcelona. At night, another attack attempt took place in Cambrils. Sixteen people died, in addition to several of those responsible, and more than a hundred were injured. Some are still in critical condition.
The Teresian Association, together with so many organizations in Spain and in the world, lived with dismay, pain, and disbelief these events that, once again, hit humankind as a whole. Several cities in different countries, too many, both in the East and in the West, have been attacked. We redouble our prayer, in accordance with the words of St. Pedro Poveda. We join in the denunciations and the call for peace in the streets of the aggrieved cities. We share a testimonial text by Anna Almuni, from Barcelona, who transmits first-hand impression and reflections experienced in such a painful blow. We thank her and we reiterate the solidarity, affection, and willingness of the members of the Teresian Association to work for peace and justice in the world, taking on the challenges of this moment of humankind.
We are not afraid
After ten days of the attack on Las Ramblas, Barcelona, and on the promenade of Cambrils, these cities try to go back to normal, but the deep experience has changed our vision and our heart. Other cities and countries have, unfortunately, lived such a situation. We are neither the first nor the only ones, but whenterror strikes hard at home, it seems more difficult to go through it.
The people of Barcelona, Cambrils, Ripoll, Alcanar, and all the men and women of this country have since then felt shock, anger, sadness, disgust, and, yes, fear. These have been days of tears but above all of humanity. We have felt, "a call to live the full communion of the people who are not afraid and want to live the gift of peace." (Cardinal Omella) When a tragedy engenders humanness, solidarity, closeness, silence, fraternity, ... there is reason for hope. The gestures of fraternity have been many, both at the personal and collective level: the young person who leaves his apartment in Las Ramblas to take a child's hand, already lifeless, so that he is not alone in that terrible moment, ... the police, the health care workers, the taxi drivers, the stoppage of a strike that was going on at the airport, the hotels, the nearby stores welcoming others, the guild of florists ... so many anonymous people ...
After participating in the Eucharist at Holy Family Church (Sunday, August 20 at 10 o'clock in the morning), I went through the terrible journey of Las Ramblas. It was an awesome prayerful experience with the prayer of the Our Father in my heart. Our Father, let us forgive, your will ... One walks and prays. It is impressive to go with many Muslim families walking slowly in this space, and many tourists, diversity in communion ... interculturality, fellowship.
The Ramblas are like this, after all these days, without traffic, one can only walk contemplating the silence of the people. Everyone (many people) walks slowly as always but quietly, in silence-communion with the one next to you. Small areas-altars with flowers and candles, toys and notes, photos of some person hit by the van.
These days, in various conversations with committed people to education and the Church, especially with young people, as we look ahead, we feel the great and interesting challenge to educate and minister to adolescents and young people. The delegate of Youth of the diocese said: an imam has sown enthusiasm, has captivated them and has given them a sinister project. For us all this is a pastoral and educational challenge.
We need to wander but it is not easy for us to do so. More and more citizens of Barcelona and many others are overcome with fear. It was obvious in the event of Friday, August 18, at noon in Plaza de Catalunya. More than 30,000 people spontaneously chose a resistance slogan, "We are not afraid," after an inspiring minute of silence.
Also, in the morning of Sunday, August 20, in the Basilica of the Holy Family, which gathered more than 1,800 people at a Eucharist for Peace, celebrated in memory of the victims and presided over by the Archbishop of Barcelona, we experienced prayer, communion and presence.
And this past Saturday, August 26, about 500,000 people participated in Barcelona in the demonstration to condemn terrorism. The march was headed by health workers, police and business people of La Rambla, following a banner with the slogan I am not afraid! Citizens went to lay flowers on Las Ramblas, and in the vans of police, ambulances, thus expressing solidarity, recognition, homage and gratitude.
There was a significant presence of Muslims in these events and in the programming of some televisions from the first moment. Gestures like the one of the parents of the boy of Rubí who was run over hugging the Imam, and many other signs, help build a society that wants to live in PEACE.
The Teresian Association family has been very much connected through Wattsapp messages, calls, prayer ... All of us are well.
We have felt the closeness of the Teresian Association in other parts of the world accompanying us and this has been a great help. THANK YOU.
When a tragedy engenders humanitarian feelings, solidarity, closeness, silence, fraternity, ... there is reason for hope. THANK YOU!!!
Anna Almuni de Muga, Barcelona, August 28, 2017
Photos: Isabel Picas Abella and Viky Uribe.