Laura and Manuel. A globetrotting couple

Laura and Manuel are a well-traveled couple who, wherever they go, make themselves available to the Church to share the gift of faith. For years they have been personifying the Church in going out that Pope Francis speaks so much about.

Arsenio Fernández de Mesa-December 14, 2021-Reading time: 3 minutes
Laura and Manuel.

Globetrotting couple with an enviable faith. Four children, one of them left for Heaven a few months after her birth. They are Laura and Manuel, one is about to be born and the other is about 70 years old. As soon as they speak you can tell that they are Andalusian, from Cadi. They were emancipated when their youngest son was 19 years old and left Spain for Romania, no less. It was a hard time. In London they often brought guests to eat at their home, but Spanish food: paella and tortilla de patatas. Family and friends, as well as some priests who were substitutes in parishes, passed through there. Manuel recalls with amusement that "Laura always said she would never go to live in Asia and we ended up living in China for two years.". 

It was there when they read in the parish bulletin that Reverend Anthony Chen needed a couple to give the premarital courses. This faith group was made up of more than 50 couples, in several editions of the same course, about seven editions in two years. Almost all the couples were Chinese girls with Western boys. The course consisted of two group meetings and three couple meetings with animators. And the place? At their home. So after the talk and the colloquium they moved on to the Spanish omelette dinner. They confess, gratefully: "Being in those countries, where we lived, was unique, very enriching because of the plurality of races and cultures. And very elevated by living our faith through their cultural filters. We did not forget our masses in many places in China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Cambodia.".

Manuel tells how in their "globetrotting" lives they did not lose their deepest identity, in spite of so many changes of place and circumstances: "...they never lost their identity.We always had a suitcase full of faith, of our Spain, including the sewing machine and the flamenco dress. When faced with a crisis, we would pull that luggage, whether it was our own faith, a zapateado or the making of a little dress to give to a friend.". In Manuel's company they were always aware of his beliefs and never raised any problems. He recalls how, on one occasion, after reading a book on the subject, he sent a message to his chairman with several people in copy, in which he made it clear that "my CEO is God" (my most supreme boss is God). By then he was already the Director of the Accident and Occupational Risk Prevention Department. This last professional position came at the price of an excessive amount of travel for Manuel, as he was responsible for a company with more than 6,000 employees spread around the world. So much effort took its toll on him and he was diagnosed with the disease of the Myasthenia Gravis. The neurologist who attended him said that he was suffering a crisis-episode of debutant in this disease and that it would be chronic from then on. The symptoms were harsh: "With mutual love and faith we move forward". Manuel often remembers that he never saw Laura shed a tear. One flesh for the ripe ones but also for the hard ones. 

In each stay of their continuous pilgrimage through different countries, they seek their home, the Church. And they don't want to be one of those who are going to comply. They want a commitment, because it brings them closer to God. It fills them. And they want to share it with others. Catechists of Communion and Confirmation from a very early age. As Salesian Cooperators they work intensely with young people. They form vocations of future cooperators and couples in the Don Bosco Home Groups. Many parishes receive their generous dedication: parish of Santiago in Pontedeume (La Coruña), St. Mary of Moorgate Parish in London, St. Peter's Church y St. Ignatius Church in Shanghai or San Agustín in Alcobendas. In this municipality to the north of Madrid, they now enrich the parish of San Lesmes Abad with their faith, lived and honed over time, so that others may know the wonder of living in this world with a sense of eternity. Adult groups animate: Diocesan Plan of Evangelization, Diocesan Missionary Plan, Sacred History and Ascending Life groups. Pope Francis calls for an outgoing Church that moves and evangelizes. This is what Laura and Manuel have been doing for so many years.

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