Fr Gabriel Delgado founded the Spanish Cardijn Association

Spanish priest, Fr Gabriel Delgado, founded the Cardijn Association in the port city of Cadiz in 1993 to work with with young people from poor neighbourhoods.

Soon after, it began to work with young immigrants, many of whom came from Africa after crossing the Mediterranean.

Many arrive sometimes in dire circumstances in their bid to realise their dream of living and working in Europe.

“We will do everything necessary to keep the dream alive!” Fr Delgado told his collaborators after he learned the story of Fatoumata Baldi, 20, who had left Guinea Conakry headed for France.

She had just crossed the border between Morocco and the Spanish city of Ceuta when the driver of the car she was traveling in lost control of the vehicle, crashing into a wall.

Six young women had paid to hide in that car specially outfitted to transport migrants. She had squeezed into a space next to the bumper bar, and became trapped among the wreckage causing her leg to be amputated below the knee.

A Sub-Saharan, undocumented woman with a disability, Fatoumata had everything against her in her plan for a promising future.

Howeve, Gabriel, who was the head of the Migration Secretariat of the Diocese of Ceuta and Cadiz, managed to have her transferred to the hospital in Cadiz, where she stayed for eight months and underwent twelve surgical operations.

During her long convalescence, she received daily visits from Pepita, a volunteer who, while keeping her company and teaching her Spanish, became an adoptive mother to her.

While undergoing rehabilitation, Fatoumata completed her secondary education, and met the Sisters of Mary Immaculate, who warmly welcomed her into a home for young female students.

Since then she Fatoumata has obtained a residence permit, is studying business management at the Mary Immaculate vocational training centre, is in constant contact with her family, and has found a boyfriend.

Sadly, Fr Gabriel did not live to see the outcome, since he died on 12 November, 2021.

He is remembered as a prophetic figure in southern Spain where the Cardijn Association continues the work he began.

Together with Pepita, her "adoptive mother," and the Sisters of Mary Immaculate, Fatoumata walks and smiles again on the promenade of Cadiz. (Giovanni Culmone / Global Solidarity Fund)
Fatamouta with the sisters (Photo: Vatican News)


Cadiz: Three migrants who overcame every adversity (Vatican News)

Asociacion Cardijn