Freirina, Chile. The Padre Mariano Avellana Health Centre was inaugurated in Freirina, Northern Chile, with the blessing by the Claretian Bishop of Copiapó, Mons Gaspar Quintana, and a festive participation of the local community.
It was a very generous and enthusiastic initiative of an enterprising small mining businesswoman , Doña Ana Puga, who came to know Padre Mariano as if by chance.
As she was doing some exploitation tasks in a mine of hers near Freirina, Doña Ana found in the tunnel a dirty creased pamphlet that spoke of Padre Mariano. She was impressed when she knew that he had been a venerable missionary who had tirelessly evangelized the sick, the prisoners, the poorest until he gave up his life in a place near that mine, and she ended up as a fervent promoter of his Cause.
After observing the great lack of public health among the 6,000 inhabitants of Freirina, Doña Ana financed the setting up of a family health centre with the name of the Venerable, mainly dedicated to the elderly adults. She involved in the project the local Health Director, Juan Pablo Rojas, who soon became also a great devotee of the future Claretian Saint.
Both together obtained from the local Council the cession of an uninhabited building, which was restored and technically equipped for the kinetic treatment and stimulation of elderly adults, including a dentist’s chair, all financed by Doña Ana Puga. The next step will be the creation of the Padre Mariano Avellana Foundation, to insure the financing of the work and the promotion of the cause of beatification of our distinguished missionary.
The Venerable Father Mariano died in the already disappeared mining town of Carrizal Alto, near Freirina, on May 14, 1904. Of his more than 700 missions registered in Chile, 400 were preached in the North of the country, where he was known as “the saintly Padre Mariano” and “the Apostle of the North.” Freirina belongs to the diocese of Copiapó, entrusted to Mons Gaspar Quintana.