What began as a simple voicemail has blossomed and grown into the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville’s “El Festival de Esperanza: A festival of hope celebrating pathways to possibilities” event which will take place Wednesday, April 27, at Saint Elle, 1420 3rd Avenue South, in Nashville.
El Festival will be a nighttime event with authentic Cuban food, music and dancing.
“We’re doing something wildly different with our Pathways to Possibilities event than we’ve ever done before,” said Judy Orr, Catholic Charities executive director.
The event is an annual fundraiser that raises funds to support the ongoing mission of Catholic Charities. Remaining with that overall goal, El Festival de Esperanza will also celebrate the organization’s 60th anniversary, and “will commemorate the earliest days of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville, when our first program was the resettlement of 43 Cuban children fleeing for safety from their homeland, as political tensions rose to dangerous levels in 1962,” according to sponsorship materials. “Then as now, guided by our motto – love, hope, healing – Catholic Charities placed the children with foster families in Middle Tennessee, until they could be reunited with their families.”
One such Cuban child who was resettled by Catholic Charities was Carlos Fernandez, who left a voicemail for Orr last year.
In speaking with Fernandez, who now lives in Miami, Orr began percolating the idea for the upcoming Cuban-themed event.
“This is in fact a celebration of this program that started our current operations,” Orr said.
And, as more people were revealed to have connections to the program, “we decided to make a short documentary about the Cuban resettlement in Nashville that happened through Catholic Charities,” Orr said. And anyone, whether they were a child that was resettled, a sponsoring family, or simply know someone who was connected to the program, are invited to participate.
There will also be a commemorative book created, which will relay the history of Catholic Charities and include a portrait gallery “celebrating our clients who have gone on to have wonderful lives,” Orr added.
“The takeaway here is this is going to be a really beautiful tribute to the people who have given us the privilege of letting us help them,” she said.
To tell your story of Cuban resettlement in Nashville, e-mail Betsy Everett, Catholic Charities development specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More about the event and the portrait book will be announced in the coming weeks.