A man walked into Seton Hall’s Jubilee Auditorium wearing a big poncho and an even bigger smile. “Hola, ¿como esta? Hola, ¿como esta?” He greeted each individual member of the press as they undoubtedly thought back to their high school Spanish days and mumbled an answer back, not sure if the correct reply was “muy bien” or “muy bueno.” The man greeting them was Mario Sepulveda—often referred to by colleagues as Super Mario—one of the 33 Chilean miners trapped in the San Jose mine in Copiapo last year.
There to discuss his recently established charity, the Miner’s Miracle Foundation, he was accompanied by U.S. executive director Eva Serebrinsky and the Chilean consul in New York, Julio Fiol. Joining the conference via webcam was Director Dr. Jean Romagnoli (a personal friend of Sepulveda’s, as well as the sports medicine specialist in charge of helping the miners rehabilitate after their rescue.) The Miner’s Miracle Foundation is committed to building houses for Chileans who lost their homes to this year’s earthquakes. Though they only have 16 houses built so far, they plan to build 200 by June. The group also plans to help with the cleanup and rebuilding efforts in Japan.
It was Chilean native Gloria Grabois, the assistant director of the Seton Hall’s G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture, who brought Miner’s Miracle to the attention of the school. Announcing its partnership with Sepulveda at today’s press conference, Seton Hall will make a financial donation to the foundation, as well as send students abroad to help build homes in Chile.
After an international humanitarian effort gave him a second chance at life, Mario said with the help of a translator, he wanted to do the same for the thousands suffering both in his homeland and abroad. The miracle we witnessed last October wasn’t just the miners’ resolve to survive—it was the world’s resolve to save them. It’s same kind of motivation that Miner’s Miracle wants to have behind their mission.
“It was a great story of faith,” said Monsignor Richard Liddy, Seton Hall’s Director for the Center of Catholic Studies. “The miners were working in a gold mine when they were trapped…. but it turned out that they were the real gold.”
Photo shows Mario Sepulveda, wearing hat, next to his translator.