Construction of the Rostro de Cristo Arbolito retreat house began in 2002, and was completed in August of 2003. The volunteer house was completed in the fall of 2005.
Arbolito is a neighborhood within the cantón of Durán on its northern outskirts. As is the case with all of Durán’s barrios, it started as an invasion community where people built houses on unclaimed land. The population of Arbolito is constantly increasing and is currently estimated to be around 20,000.
With relatively frequent power outages and extreme flooding in the rainy season, Arbolito is still developing as a community. The number of paved roads increases little by little, and a branch of the UPC (police department) was built in 2012 a few blocks from the volunteer house.
On March 23, 2014, Arbolito’s chapel, La Capilla Virgen del Perpetuo Socorro, which was part of the Porciúncula Parish in the neighboring community of Antonio Jose de Sucre, became a full-fledged parish, Nuestra Señora Virgen de Perpetuo Socorro. In January 2013, three Italian missionary priests arrived in Durán and one, Padre Juan Pablo, has been assigned to what is now the Parish in Arbolito.
There is a desire for community improvement projects from various members of Arbolito, particularly within the parish. There is a women’s group, Pastoral de la Mujer, a music group, Nueva Generación (New Generation), and a new Caritas program, among other parish ministries that have high hopes for the community as a whole.
RdC year-long volunteers and retreat groups in Arbolito participate in the community in many ways: by visiting neighbors, getting involved in parish life, and spending time with a variety of partner programs that serve the needs of the neighborhood, including Semillas de Mostaza, Padre Damien House, and Nuevo Mundo.