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It all began between the years 1930 and 1940, with Don Bernardo Peláez González, who together with his wife Pepita Echeverría, positioned themselves as one of the most renowned families in the country, founder of large companies, such as the Colombian Federation of Coffee Growers. Being involved first-hand with the coffee business, his trips to Colombia and the world were very frequent. In the year 42, this couple decided to travel to Italy, specifically to Cascia, where they suffered an accident, from which fortunately they were well saved and after that event, they made a promise to Santa Rita de Cascia, to bring devotion to that to Colombia. Santa

Although Santa Rita de Cascia was not very well known, they were the ones who brought the devotion to the country, however the family continued to travel annually to Cascia. In the year 50, Pope Pius XII ordered that the relics of the Saint be scattered around the world so that the devotion would spread. The renown of the family, this time not because of their companies, but because of their influence and devotion to the Saint, led to one of the relics being given to the Peláez family and not to the Catholic Church.

This is how the relic passed into the hands of the Peláez, who made sure that the devotion spread throughout the country. Novenas, masses, churches of which they were donors of land and even the feast of the Saint, celebrated on May 22, were given thanks to the work of Don Bernardo and Pepita. Her children, Gabriela, Pepita and Bernardo, continued to spread the devotion, even after the death of Doña Pepita, in the year 54.

In this story it is worth noting that Gabriela, the eldest daughter of the Peláez family, was the first female lawyer in Colombia, a fighter for women’s rights, she was passionate about the feminist struggle. The influence of the family was always present, and in the year 58 Gabriela was granted the position of ambassador to the OAS, there she began to work on a project that intended to contribute to the education deficit in Colombia, which consisted of teaching Trades of the time such as weaving, writing and others in a house that currently bears his name “Hogar Santa Rita de Cascia”. Alberto Lleras Camargo, president at that time, supported Gabriela by giving her a piece of land located in the Chapinero area, at Cra 5 67-74 for more than 100 years, so that the Santa Rita de Cascia Foundation could be created there and continue to provide education.

When Gabriela’s younger siblings die, she is left in charge of the educational institution, which in the mid-1980s was going through a crisis. At 77 years old, without a husband, children, or nephews, she confides the story of her life and seeks advice from one of her closest friends, Mrs. Lupe Nieto de Parra. At a certain point in history, the foundation became unsustainable, so Gabriela decided that it was time to hand it over to someone who can keep it standing, and that is where Brother Ray Schambach enters to be part of this history. They established an agreement that lasted a little over five years, but by the year 2000, due to Brother Ray’s health problems, the foundation was once again on the tightrope.

Gabriela in her last years of life makes a request to Lupe de Parra, her longtime friend, so that her family take over the foundation. Faced with the crisis, with the desire to hit the mark and provide peace of mind to the last days of Gabriela’s life, Hernando, lawyer and eldest son of Mrs. Lupe, on behalf of the Parra Nieto family, decides that the best thing would be to restore the building to liquidate the foundation and hand it over, since they couldn’t hold it. But one day, due to fate, in the facilities of what is now called Hogar Santa Rita de Cascia, Brother Ray, introduces Dr. Fernando Quintero to Doña Lupe and there, after a brief talk, radically changes the story. of the foundation.

Dr. Fernando Quintero managed to prevent the closure and assumed that responsibility, since one of the things that neither Dona Lupe nor Hernando wanted was to leave the children on the street. Although the Ministry of Education always put its obstacles, the foundation continued with a new vision, focused on the educational area, but not traditional, but a special education, where currently four beneficiary children advance their studies under the modality of the Hospital Classroom Program of the Secretary of Education.

And so thanks to the love and commitment of the Parra Nieto family and the Board of Directors, headed by Dr. Hernando Parra, today Rector of the Externado de Colombia University, it has been possible to defend this lot and its mission, since it enjoys great interest and it is where the care of 62 beneficiary children of the Hogar Santa Rita de Cascia of the Fundación Proyecto Unión is currently being watched over. “Our family feels very fortunate to know that we have given this place to a person with a noble heart, intelligence and wisdom who for more than 20 years has made it a refuge for the most needy children in Colombia,” said Doña Lupe de Parra .

On the other hand, when Gabriela died in 2000, the custody of Santa Rita was handed over to the Archdiocese of Bogotá, and one of the statues that they had brought from Italy was given to the Church of Santa Rita in the El Country neighborhood. from Bogota. Although very few know it, the origin is only one and all this great history started from there, that is why today we gratefully join together to celebrate in our home, a tribute to our Saint, “patron saint of the impossible”, so that guide forever the destinies of the Santa Rita de Cascia Foundation.