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Priest unexpectedly called upon to drive woman in labor to the hospital



Pablo Cesio - published on 03/02/23

Fr. Juan Andrés Verde is a local celebrity in Uruguay, and his latest act of kindness was quite an adventure!

Fr. Juan Andrés Verde is affectionately known as “El Gordo” (which means “Fat Guy,” but isn’t meant in a derogatory way), and you may already have read about him already on Aleteia. A former rugby player from Uruguay, he made the news in 2021 as a finalist on MasterChef Uruguay. He has gone viral again, but this time far from kitchens, sports, or a TV studio.

“What an adrenaline rush! The only thing I was missing: ‘El Gordo’ as a midwife,” he recently published on Instagram. It was through that medium that the Uruguayan priest recounted in detail what happened to him recently.

“Just a while ago, while I was preparing my maté tea, a neighbor arrived in a hurry … ‘Gordo … we need help! Natacha is going to be born!!!’ (I’ve helped with some cow births but I have no idea about ours),” the priest said on Instagram.

Fr. Juan Andrés Verde asked about the frequency of the contractions. The girl’s grandmother, named Sandra, told him that by her reckoning they were happening one per minute. (At that point, a mother in labor is usually already being attended to at a hospital.)

“There was no time to wait for a patrol car or an ambulance … I looked up and remembered that I had lent my truck,” Fr. Verde explains. He ended up grabbing a pickup truck used for rough work, belonging to the Cyrenes, a volunteer organization that Fr. Verde directs, and rushing to the hospital. The truck’s horn was broken, so to get through traffic he kept waving a white handkerchief out the window. The pregnant mother, Monica, was in distress in the back seat. The child’s father was also in the vehicle, in the front with Fr. Verde.

The vehicle that became an ambulance and was driven by Fr. Juan Andrés Verde, who unexpectedly became an “assistant” for a successful delivery in Uruguay

“Between nervousness and shouting … we began to pray: ‘Hail Mary … (breathe through the nose Moni! …) Full of grace … The Lord is with you (shouts and waves handkerchief in the air …) Amen.’ I must admit that at that moment I shed a tear; perhaps due to the emotion of the moment,” Fr. Juan Andrés continued in his publication.

Finally, those involved, with the assistance and driving skills of Fr. Juan Andrés, arrived at the hospital. From then on, everything went very quickly and the baby girl, named Natacha, was born.

“A beautiful baby! (…) A lioness! She weighed 7 pounds! And we’re all grateful to God for her life,” added the Uruguayan priest.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Cura JUAN ANDRES VERDE (@gordo.verde)

The triumph of life in complex times

What Fr. Juan Andrés Verde experienced has remained engraved in his heart. A few days later, and feeling calmer, the priest gave more details in a conversation with Aleteia.

Among other things, Fr. Verde mentioned that the relatives of the newborn girl are residents of the Santa Eugenia neighborhood in Montevideo (a part of the city where people of low socioeconomic status live in very precarious conditions, where Fr. Juan Andrés has asked to live for a while).  

The family participates weekly in the celebration of the Word, so they are active members of the community. In addition, the priest explained that what made him particularly nervous was seeing Monica’s grandmother Sandra (who has several children and more than 20 grandchildren) also nervous.

However, despite the complications and contradictions of the situation – such as the neighborhood’s effective remoteness, despite being located in the capital – the care and warmth of the hospital where this little girl was born was fundamental.

Photo with a member of the hospital staff. The priest’s face betrays nervousness and joy.

“I also want to underline the love, affection, and so many gestures by very humble families towards this life which was about to be born. In this case, they live in a container home with just enough. They had their little bag ready for when the time came. Maybe breakfast was maté tea with a cracker, but the baby’s clothes were all ready with a lot of effort. This speaks of wanting to be open to life, of wanting to receive this new life. For these families (as I’m sure is the case for the great majority of them), it’s a great gift from God, a treasure. No material good can take its place,” said Fr. Juan Andrés.   

“How nice when life is so longed for and so well received as it was in this experience we just had!” he added.

The story of what happened only reaffirms the beauty of life in the midst of so many inconsistencies, overwhelming news (such as the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria), and the advance of the culture of death in several Latin American countries through legislation related to abortion and euthanasia (in Uruguay the decriminalization of abortion has just completed 10 years, for example, and the Congress is currently studying a project to decriminalize euthanasia and assisted suicide).

Baby Natacha. Her safe birth was possible in part thanks to the assistance of Fr. Verde, who brought her mother to the hospital. She symbolizes the triumph of life in the midst of so much darkness.

Being part of this adventure

Lastly, Fr. Juan Andrés was encouraged to reflect on this experience in the midst of his vocation as a priest.

In my experience, God is not to be outdone in generosity. In my own case too. All of us priests make an option – when we feel God’s call to give our lives to him in the priesthood – for Christ, which also embraces our whole being. One of the gifts we make is our own paternity. Although we live it in a different way, it’s part of what we surrender to God.

However, God allowed me to have this experience, that of accompanying a father and a mother who were about to give birth, and to be part of this adventure with a lot of adrenaline. To live it as if it were my own daughter. It’s a mystery, but also there I see how God doesn’t let Himself be outdone in generosity.  

Finally, an unavoidable question in these circumstances: What about Natacha’s baptism?

“Baptism is the first thing they asked for. Here, people arrange the baptisms before the kids are even born,” said Fr. Juan Andrés.

Acts of KindnessBabiesInspiring storiesPregnancyPriest
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