Last Wednesday, January 20, a gas explosion took place in the parish building of the La Paloma church in Madrid, located in the center of the city. In the building were the residences of the priests and the ‘catechumenium’ in which the Neocatechumenal communities hold their celebrations. Several rooms which had been designed and projected by the initiator and international head of the Way, Kiko Argüello, and served to carry out the aesthetic and liturgical renewal of Vatican II.
As the communities in the parish grew, there was seen a need to create new dignified spaces where the communities could celebrate the different liturgies. Those spaces or rooms were called ‘catechumeniums’. Later, in imitation of these, they emerged in other parishes around the world.
La Paloma’s ‘catecumenium’ consisted of 8 small rooms and one large room and was inaugurated in 1991. It can be said that it was the first in the history of catechumeniums.
The Neocatechumenal Way arrived in La Paloma in 1970. Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández gave the first catechesis for adults in the parish and created the first community. Since then, catechesis has been given every year, currently having 18 communities consisting of more than 900 members.
The Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid, Carlos Osoro, in an interview with the newspaper La Razón, pointed out that the building will be on its feet again and stressed that it is “a parish with a lot of life and high symbolic value.” “It is an illuminating icon for all, because the Way is a grace that has been given to the whole Church.”
We include below the telegram sent by Pope Francis, signed by Secretary of State Card. Pietro Parolín, condolences to the families from the Royal House of the King and the statement that the parish pastor, Gabriel Benedicto, has published for general knowledge.
CARDINAL PIETRO PAROLIN SECRETARY OF STATE
HIS CARDINAL EMINENCE CARLOS OSORO SIERRA ARCHBISHOP OF MADRID.
THE HOLY FATHER, AFTER HEARING THE PAINFUL NEWS OF THE SERIOUS EXPLOSION THAT OCCURRED IN A BUILDING ON TOLEDO STREET IN MADRID, WISHES THE CLERGY AND ALL THE CHILDREN OF THAT BELOVED CITY, TO KNOW THAT HE IS NEAR TO THEM AND OFFERS HIS AFFECTION.
ALSO, HIS HOLINESS RAISES PRAYERS TO THE LORD AND COMMENDS ESPECIALLY TO HIS MERCY THE ETERNAL REST OF THE VICTIMS, AS WELL AS TO THE WOUNDED AND THEIR FAMILIES. POPE FRANCIS, INVOKING THE MATERNAL INTERCESSION OF OUR LADY OF THE ALMUDENA, GIVES YOU THE COMFORTING APOSTOLIC BLESSING FROM THE HEART, AS A SIGN OF CHRISTIAN HOPE IN THE RISEN LORD.Telegram from the Holy Father, signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State, for the victims of the explosion which took place in Madrid
The Royal House of King conveys “condolences to the families of the deceased” and their “closeness and affection” after the explosion at La Paloma.
“In these moments of pain, we want to convey, through you, our condolences to the families of the deceased, as well as all our closeness and affection. We also send our support and best wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured and affected.”Source: Arquidiócesis de Madrid
Gabriel Benedicto Pastor of the Virgin of the Paloma Parish
Madrid, January 21, 2021
From the pain and mystery that death always places before us, the parish of the Virgin of the Paloma wants to thank the numerous expressions of affection and closeness that it has received since yesterday, Wednesday, January 20, from which the explosion that left four fatalities and eleven wounded of varying degrees.
As pastor of the parish, and in the light of all the information, internal testimonies and data that we have so far, what I can tell you is that everything that ouccured took place in such a short period of time that we did not even have the time to be aware of what was happening. We were six people who perceived, in just a few minutes, a strange smell of gas in four different points: the patio, the ground floor, the fifth floor and the sixth floor. However there was no time for anything other than to notice that smell.
Now we must be patient and wait for the scientific police to inform us about the progress of their investigations. This is what I can convey to you: David, Father Rubén and the other two deceased and the other injured were victims. Some were caught inside, others outside. I have nothing but gratitude for having witnessed the lives of these two great friends. They were always together and that is how death found them.
Rubén, my great companion and friend, with whom I have lived the lockdown of the pandemic as a family, celebrating the Eucharist daily. I have known his strength in weakness, his patience in obedience, his sense of humor, his sharpness. We saw him as a brother.
David, a catechist for adolescents, an exemplary father, always ready to give his time day and night. Gratuity and joy were his characteristic notes. I never saw him cease to be enthusiastic about everything: very in love with Sara, a devotee of the Virgin, a huge fan of Atleti.
They were there as others could have been. Neither David nor Rubén nor any of us had time to intervene in any way. Only, like anyone else concerned about the smell of gas, they tried to find out the cause, follow the trail, without ever manipulating any of the boilers.
As it could not have been otherwise, we are in constant contact with the judicial authorities, firefighters, police and other officials of the City Council and the Community of Madrid, providing the necessary collaboration at all times to clarify the truth and the sequence, as soon as possible, of the facts.
We ask the Lord to deeply comfort all the families of the victims and we continue to trust that the tribulation will give way to hope.Virgin of the Paloma Parish – Madrid (Spain)