Who would have imagined everything that would happen after asking in the Diocese of Alcalá de Henares if there was a mission trip that I could help out in as an architect. I did not know who or what the Home of the Mother was, but not long after that, I found myself in Playa Prieta (Ecuador) in August, 2015.
I got to know the community, the candidates that died, and of course, Sr. Clare.
Sr. Clare before the mural
Sr. Clare had an engaging personality; she was funny and direct. She would pray with the children every morning, and they always asked her to sing their two favorite songs about the Good Shepherd and the Guardian Angel. I loved to listen to her sing and to watch the faces of the kids as they listened to her; they were fascinated by her and watched her every move, wide-eyed and with their mouths open. When I asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up, they all said that they wanted to be guardian angels. One day, when I passed by the high school classrooms, it was funny to hear the 16-year-olds begging Sister Clare to sing the Good Shepherd song before beginning class. She had captivated all of us.
We built a drainage system. Thanks be to God, this system helped decrease the water levels from the flood that occurred before the earthquake. That way there was less water when the earthquake took place.
The Sisters suggested that I paint a mural in the school patio. They said that maybe I could paint some animals. Sister Sara wanted a frog eating a mosquito. I really liked to see the children sing the parable of the Good Shepherd during recess. I thought it would be nice to paint a mural with several scenes from the parable of the Good Shepherd, which would include, of course, a frog eating a mosquito.
Catalina painting the mural
I began to paint the mural, but I wasn’t sure how to paint the end of the story when the Shepherd carries the lost sheep home and has a celebration. It’s the celebration in Heaven. When the school’s four hundred students saw me painting, they would come up and say, “You’re painting the Shepherd and the sheep? Then you have to paint Sister Clare too!” The majority won and I decided to paint her in the mural.
I didn’t follow any specific drawing and invented things along the way, asking people to pose for me. I had one of the boys from the school pose for the scene where the Shepherd finds His sheep. He was a little shy and, of course, the Shepherd kind of ended up looking shy too. So, I called Sister Clare, and with her acting talents she played the role of the Shepherd finding His sheep perfectly. The Shepherd, therefore, is also Sister Clare.
The candidates and girls from the school helped paint as well, especially the final scene with the celebration. Catalina, who became one of my dear friends and who I love a lot, posed as if she were playing the violin or flute. The two children that are with Sister Clare are both Catalina.
The fact that Sister Clare and the girls died on the eve of Good Shepherd Sunday is curious, if not a sign and a message. Sister Clare is the only Sister that I painted in the mural. Looking at the mural now, we can see that the Shepherd’s house is the house of the Father who prepares a celebration and recieves us with a “Welcome Home” banner. This is especially true in this Year of Mercy, because the Good Shepherd is the manifestation of God’s mercy.
We share here some pictures of the work on the mural that Marta sent us.