Focus on Family: Argentina


Sr Mariela Rocchietti is from Mendiolaza, just to the north of the city of Córdoba, in Pope Francis’ native homeland of Argentina. She is currently completing her final year studies in Occupational Therapy and took a few minutes away from the books last week to give an Argentinean perspective on the upcoming World Meeting of Families.

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Sr Mariela, second from left, with some fellow univeristy students and their families.

What does the word ‘family’ mean to me? The family is the first place where we learn the values, principles and meaning of life. It is where we receive love and start to build relationships.  It is where values such as respect, love, tolerance, sharing, dialogue and trust are nurtured.

The family unit is the foundation stone that society is built on. However, it faces many challenges.

The economic downturn, along with the impact of consumerism, is leaving a visible footprint on family life.

It is quite common for both parents to spend many hours working just to meet both the basic family needs, in addition to the ‘needs’ that the advertisers make us feel we cannot do without.

For this reason, Sunday, traditionally a day of rest, has become a day like any other. 

All this means less time for families to spend time together and interact with each other. The lack of time due to work commitments, a fast-paced world and technology - which can isolate and disconnect us from family, inhibit dialogue and  the passing-on of values.

Today, the ‘family’ would be defined as mother, father, children, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. This definition, too, is evolving.


A map of Argentina courtesy of Google Maps. The OLA communities are based in Córdoba and Buenos Aires.


My Family

Like Pope Francis, my family is also of Italian descent. My grandparents arrived in Argentina as immigrants from Italy. Their understanding and experience of family would have been much broader than what we could consider family today. Back then, whole families worked side-by-side, especially in the rural areas.

I grew up sowing peanuts on my grandparent’s farm. It was a labour intensive job and required many helping hands. For that reason, the peanut farm belonged to the entire family. These childhood experiences enabled me to get to know and connect with my grandmother’s brothers and sisters, and, in-turn, their own families.

While commercialism continues to chip away at ‘family time’, one particular family tradition is still very much holding its own. Here in Argentina, Sunday has always been a day for the family. Every week, families gather around the table for lunch. Who would be there? Normally, parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, boyfriends, girlfriends, partners and friends – so a very big group! All the big family occasions are marked in the same way by gathering around the table and ‘breaking bread’ together.

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Sr Mariela with her two nieces, who are twins, and her father.


Culture of screens

In terms of the role of older people in our country, there is a big disparity between urban and rural areas. Generally the elderly are looked-up to in the country areas and have a say in family matters, culture and customs.

In urban centres, the elderly are typically in nursing homes. These places can tend to every possible health need an older person may have but they are removed from their closest family and the joy of watching their grandchildren grow-up.

The digital world is an alien one to many older people. Consequently, the learned experiences and wisdom of older people, along with their stories and advice, are virtually redundant for the younger generations due to the reduced opportunities for encounter. I guess it would be fair to say that the ‘culture of screens’ is affecting us all.

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Sr Mariela with her father.


OLA Family

I joined the OLA Sisters in 2002 before making my first profession in 2005. I took my final vows in 2014. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I never really felt a particular ‘call’ to religious life. My journey of discernment started from the age of 25 years. My parents would be Catholic but they would not have been regular mass goers. It was my grandparents who taught me some of the rites and the corner stones of the faith. Once I decided to join the OLAs, my parents and my sister supported my decision. They continue to do so to this day. So now, I have two families!

The World Meeting of Families is a wonderful opportunity to tease-out the importance and value of family. The gathering is a gift. It will offer families a chance to share experiences, learnings and explore the impact of ‘family’ in our world. However, this gift comes with a little ‘homework’ i.e. putting into practice some of the learnings from the gathering. The upcoming World Meeting overflows with possibility for families across our globe.

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Members of the OLA community in Córdoba. Pictured, from left, are Srs Mariela, Edel, Liliana and Anna Rosa.



  • Click here to find our more about the work of the two OLA communities in Argentina.
  • Click here to visit the OLA Argentina Facebook page.
  • Sr Edel Mowah talk about her mission in an Argentenian hospice here.
  • Click here to read other articles in the 'Focus on Family' series.
  • Click here for more on the World Meeting of Families 2018.