Sri Sathya Sai Center of Miami Central Celebrates its 41st Anniversary
The Sri Sathya Sai Center of Miami Central celebrated its 41st Anniversary in June 2022. Fondly known as the All-Spanish Center, it was started in June 14, 1981 by Sai devotees - Gervasio Guzman, Maria “Cuca” Martín and Hilda Gizan - who desired to hold devotional sessions and study the teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba in their mother tongue, Spanish.
ORIGINS OF THE CENTER
On a trip to Puttaparthi, they received Baba's blessings to open a Spanish-speaking center. When the center first began in Mama Cuca's house, a tenant was occupying the shrine room, which did not leave adequate room for all those interested in attending. Miraculously, Cuca’s tenant informed them that she had found a place and was moving out. Thus, the first Spanish-speaking Sai Center in Florida was born, with enough space for everyone. In a few years, the problem of space re-emerged. Again, prayers were miraculously answered when a devotee stepped forward and offered his property rent-free. Thus, the Sri Sathya Sai Center of Miami Central evolved over the years, with Divine Grace constantly providing enough space to accommodate the ever-growing but close-knit community of almost 100 active members committed to serving society.
Since its inception, the Center has been conducting weekly study circles, devotional sessions, and Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) classes. In time, the Center also offered Adult Education workshops, classes on eating Sattvic food, Veda recitation (with Spanish translation), yoga and lectures by inspiring speakers.
In the early years, a few Center members were instrumental in diligently translating several Sai literature into Spanish for Center members. This included monthly publications such as Sanathana Sarathi and the Sathya Sai Newsletter, USA, as well as Sathya Sai Baba's discourses and other Sai books by well-known authors. Some of the translations were done in collaboration with bilingual Sai devotees in South American countries, and gratefully welcomed by many other Spanish-speaking Sai devotees. The Center continues to serve Spanish-speaking Sai audiences globally by creating and disseminating Sai content in Spanish through various channels such as Youtube and Facebook.
SERVICE TO MAN IS SERVICE TO GOD
Center members have participated in various service activities such as feeding the poor, book drives for donations to prisons and neighborhood cleaning. They also visit a nursing home regularly, bringing along their guitars and other musical instruments, to lead the elderly in joyful singing and uplift their spirits. They have collaborated with other service organizations, such as Aid to Immigrants, the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa, and other churches in the locale. The Center has also been involved in regular shipment of life-saving medicine, food, clothing, and orthopedic implements such as wheelchairs to local and international organizations in Cuba, Haiti and Venezuela to serve communities living in poverty and lack access to medical care.
POSITIVE CHANGES DURING PANDEMIC
During the pandemic, the Center continued to offer weekly programs on a virtual platform, in keeping with the restrictions established by the authorities. Once the restrictions were relaxed, the Center resumed its shipment of food and medicine. In time, they began meeting weekly in-person, while maintaining the Zoom option, for devotion and study circles, through the generous sharing of space by the Sri Sathya Sai Center of South Miami.
An unexpected outcome of using the virtual platform for study circles and workshops, was that it allowed Spanish-speaking devotees from other states and abroad, such as California or Spain, to participate regularly, despite the time difference. This led to very rich discussions and stimulating exchange of ideas on Sri Sathya Sai teachings. These study circles were recorded and published on the Center’s Facebook page and on YouTube, thus allowing devotees to have a permanent record of the content discussed. More recently, the Center has focused on translation of Veda chanting into Spanish to help their members and other Spanish-speaking devotees. And so, what was a challenging time allowed the Center to expand its membership, and in the process, enrich the spiritual environment for its members, and create a forum to generate spiritual content in Spanish for bilingual Spanish-speaking Sai devotees both locally and globally.