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 published: 2003-08-26

The "Home of Mary"

A Home for the mentally handicapped children with no financial means was born of the Covenant of Love in Mar del Plata

En el Hogar de Maria en Mar del Plata

In the "Home of Mary" in Mar del Plata

Im "Haus Mariens" in Mar del Plata


Una chica con deficiencia mental, cobijado en el Hogar de Maria

A girl with mental incapacities, at home in the "Home of Mary"

Ein geistig behindertes Mädchen hat hier eine neue Heimat gefunden


Cuidar, enseñar, ayudar ...

Care, teach, help...

Sorgen, lehren, helfen…


Un ser humano de incalculable valor

A human being of highest value

Ein Mensch von unschätzbarem Wert


Experimentar familia

Experiencing family

Familie erleben


"Mi casa, mi hogar, mi familia"

"My home, my house, my family"

"Mein Haus, mein Zuhause, meine Familie"


En la ermita de la Mater

At the wayside shrine

Beim Bildstock


Equipo del Hogar de Maria

The team of the "Home of Mary"

Das Team vom "Hogar de Maria"


En la cocina

In the kitchen


Fotos: Hogar de Maria © 2003




ARGENTINA, Mercedes de Rom / Ingrid Springer. In some homes in Germany we find beautifully decorated candles bought in Schoenstatt or in the Schoenstatt centers. Each one of the candles has an attachment with a Home in Mar del Plata, Argentina, where there is a new light of hope for the mentally handicapped children without a family. Who didn’t have a family; because now they have one in the "Hogar de Maria", the "Home of Mary", founded by Mercedes de Rom, the mother of a girl with the Down syndrome. Hogar de Maria is an answer on the Covenant of Love to God’s message on the birth of her daughter.

The mission of Hogar de Maria is to provide care for the social, medical and psycho-emotional needs of the children and adolescents of both sexes with a mental deficiency ( with or without mobility problems) from ages 3 to 15 years, who have no family or if they have one, the family is not able to take care of their essential needs. The little home's main objective is to keep and emphasize the values and concept of a home, so that during this time of their lives the children and adolescents living there can develop integrally as persons and can exercise their legitimate and true rights due to every human being: to be born, to live, to grow and develop to their whole capacity with dignity.

A beautiful girl

Mercedes de Rom tells us how the Home was born in her heart years before it appeared in Mar del Plata: "Many and very profound experiences have been giving shape to the Hogar de Maria in my heart and in my mind. I grew up close to a sister who had serious brain damage and from a very young age I experienced what involves having a handicapped member in the family. A side from being a life close to doctors, psychologists, neurologists, therapists and other specialists who took care of my sister, I grew up sharing naturally my life with her who was different from the rest of the children.

Many moments were kept deep in my heart during that childhood, adolescence and youth with my family.

Time passed by. I got married and with my husband Fernando we had three children that are now 22, 19 and 13 years old. Then the twins, now 9 years old, were born. One, Pilar, was born with the Down syndrome. My husband and I had difficult moments when holding the twin babies in our arms, one was different from the rest of the children. A very beautiful girl with a mental deficiency.

A pain to embrace or to reject

Not long ago Father Angel Strada, who supported the Hogar de Maria from its beginnings, was able to visit this place testimony of the transformation of pain into a love challenge. It is the experience of Mercedes de Rom, who after the birth of her twins had moments of "uncertainty, insecurity, anguish, fear and also pain. A deep pain that God Father offered to us with his great love. A pain to embrace or to reject. A pain as only God can offer and in that great freedom he gives us the choice to accept it or not."

We ask her: what is the source of your Yes to this pain?

Our Covenant of Love with our Mother in the heavens made us embrace that pain and to hold it in our hearts. It was that profound love of a Mother that helped us to transform that pain into a love challenge. Not a naive love, a love that trespasses us to accept the loving designs of God in a child who is different, the child with a slow brain, clumsy walk, with little physical harmony, but with a heart full of heavenly love, free from egotism.

A few months passed by. Not many and my husband and I started searching for support Associations who help families with handicapped children. We needed the help of other parents who were going through the same experience.

I started working as a volunteer in one of those associations and discovered that when there is a big pain in our hearts we just have to look around to see there is somebody else with a bigger pain and who needs our support, our happiness that we didn’t know we had, and by the grace of God we can offer it to the one in need.

An aggravating circumstance: poverty

Which was the key motive on the founding of the Hogar de Maria?

I started discovering what it means to be mentally handicapped and poor. Many of the families who participated in the meetings of these organizations were extremely poor. This situation made it impossible for them to give to their children the basic care needed. I looked then up to heaven and asked the MTA to help me discover what the Lord wanted from me. I had been raised with a mentally handicapped sister, and God had given me a daughter with Down syndrome. He had given us the possibility of offering both girls what they needed to grow and develop as God’s children. What could I do when faced with these families that had not the necessary means?

Just listening to those mothers so close to me with their children in their arms, with their insecurity and pain, like me, but without a possibility to give the first steps to help those children. I also discovered that some of those children had no father or mother, they had been abandoned by their own families because of the irreversible deficiency.

That was all I needed. Mary in our Covenant of Love let me listen to the voice of the Lord: "We have to do something!"

My life’s mission

The Covenant of Love, the nucleus of Schoenstatt is the answer to three fundamental requests of a human being: " I need a home! Make me a new man! Show me the mission that God has prepared for me!

Mercedes de Rom: "I felt deep in my heart that the MTA had given me the possibility to discover "my life’s mission": besides being the mother of my children to be in some manner the mother of those other children who didn’t have the most precious treasure that every person deserves at birth: a family.

Thus, the project of a Home to shelter those children with mental deficiency and without a family started taking shape in Mercedes de Rom.

Today it is a Non Profit Civic Association, with a team of specialized professionals of mental health, service staff, and over forty volunteers who day by day form a solid network of hearts to bring to each child in the Hogar de Maria a tender touch of God Father to complete their existence with dignity.

The mission of the Hogar de Maria

The mission of the Hogar de Maria developed in three axles: 1) social, habitation, services; 2) educational; 3) therapeutic.

In the first place we try to strengthen the relationship between the children and their families, taking a look at the problem these families have relating to a member with special needs and who is out of their home. In certain cases where there is no family group, the project tries to create bonds between the children and adolescents and persons in our community who receive guidance from the professional psychologists in the institution to be the emotional suport.

The Hogar de Maria receives as beneficiaries fifteen children and adolescents in three separate areas of one building considering their ages, sex and pathology. Each area functions as permanent alternative of five children and adolescents and the institution counts with a team of therapy companions plus two emotional reference persons with permanent residence in the Hogar. These areas preserve, as much as possible, the privacy and sense of shelter found in a proper home. The children and adolescents share also free common covered spaces.

By this method we intend to let the child function adequately in the every day life, satisfying his food, dress and hygienic needs. The project also contemplates the children attending especial education establishments: Day Care or Labor Centers.

The Technical Team formed by the pediatrician, psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist and dietitian, takes care of the therapeutic needs of the child, making sure that if needed they can hire the services of professionals for special treatment depending on the characteristic of the children helped.

The recreational activities are also especially taken care of: celebrations, festivities, shows, trips, fun events, etc.

God’s favorite children

Girls, boys and adolescents with mental deficiencies, or mentally handicapped with mobility problems between the ages of three and fifteen years. We give preference to those children without a family or with a family that has no means to attend their needs. The candidates selected from the lists supplied by the educational and social service entities of the city of Mar del Plata are evaluated by the professional team to make sure that a place is given to those who need the most considering their social, financial and family situation, age and handicap. The deep commitment to those beings is to offer them the necessary means to care for their physical and emotional health, rehabilitation and therapeutic treatment to help them grow hand in hand with the MTA, as God’s favorite children.

The profits in the sale of the candles in Germany goes to help the Hogar. The candles also show the presence of this product of the Covenant of Love in Schoenstatt’s place of origin.

Translation: Carmen Barruel, Belgium

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