Tuesday, December 26, 2006


With 12 others from St. Thomas I spent the week before Christmas in New Orleans.

There have been some changes in New Orleans - cars have been removed from the Lower Ninth Ward, many houses have been bulldozed there, and there is more life in the city. But we were told that there are still about 6000 houses that need to be gutted.

We worked on three houses -including spending two days on a house on Clabourne Street that we couldn't finish. It looked like an easy job but, as one person noted, it was symbolic of New Orleans. We kept uncovering things that needed to be. Behind the wood walls there were 2x4s and plaster and lathe; above the ceiling was an other ceiling and on the inside of the roof was plaster and lathe! The last surprise was that there were at least 8 levels of flooring. And so despite two long hard days of work (by a hard-working crew) we left the house unfinished.

At that house we encountered many sides of the complexity and tragedy. The owner was a 91 year old woman whose daughter had lived in the other side. A son, 67 years old, was the only relative in New Orleans and so was beleaguered, with relatives asking him to look after their houses. He looked worn out but was most generous to us - buying Gator Aid twice and then Cajun shrimp! Life is hard for these people but some are so generous.

Again this experience - good hard work - touched my heart and reconfirmed my decision to go to Honduras next year.

We had some very good reflections.

I realized again that New Orleans is a kenotic experience for me - as we emptied the houses, I too was emptied. But then I remembered the passage from Philippians 2 that I love - where Paul speaks of Jesus "emptying himself" and becoming human. The kenosis of the incarnation of Jesus has been an important part of my spirituality and now it is pulling me to be with the poor.

God is good!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sometime in early 2007 I will be off to ministry in Honduras.

When this will happen, I don't know since I have told Fr. Ev, our pastor, that I will stay until a new person is hired so that I can help orient that person and help them make connections in the community.

I also don't know how the fundign will be worked out. The diocese in Honduras does not have money. I am confident that I have enough possible sources for assistance that I don't need to worry about this. It also appears that St. Thomas is looking for ways to assist me. But I don't know what this will look like and so I have some concerns about fundraising.

Throughout all this time of discernment I have grown in confidence that if this is God's will a way will be found. At times it's hard, but this has been a way of helping me to trust in God's loving providence, a way to grow in trust. And for this I am grateful.

I am not a person who is very good with ambiguity, but God is leading me. And so I must trust, for he is here.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Yesterday, September 28, about 8000 people came to Santa Rosa de Copán in western Honduras in support of Monseñor Luis Santos. There was a meeting, a march, and finally a Mass at the cathedral. It is great to see the support he is receiving as well as the mobilization of the people in support of changes in Honduras.

The issues are many - but the one that has really touched a nerve is the presence of open pit mining in Honduras, the contamination that this has caused (even to the water supply of Santa Rosa de Copán), and the fact that the companies pay Honduras a pittance (about 1%).

There are also other issues, including deforestation and corruption. It is good that I'll be able to be there - in support of a real evangelical ministry - of Good News to the poor.

Gracias a Dios!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

"As long as Christian morality is thought to be mainly about whether and when people should go to bed, no bishops are going to be crucified. And this is depressing."
Herbert McCabe, OP, Law, Love and Language

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I am at great peace with the prospect of going to Honduras, sometime between the end of January and May of 2007. I really feel as if I am being led by God. I have had so much support – from friends and from our pastor and from the Parish Council of Saint Thomas Aquinas. It is truly humbling.

I do have a few minor concerns – how to dispossess myself of the too many possessions I have, what to save and where to store it, etc. But they are not major. I don’t even have major concerns about finances. This week the parish Finance and Administration Commission will make some proposals, but I am not part of it. It is in God’s hands. As I have been saying for some time: if it is of God, a way – un camino - will be found. That way has been opening up before me in ways I never expected. God is good!

There is one concern, though. I have been reading on the internet of the pressures being put on Monseñor Luis Alfonso Santos, the bishop of Santa Rosa de Copán. There are rumors of death threats against him because of his support of efforts to control mining and to have the mining companies pay Honduras more than 1% of their earnings. There are also rumors of pressures from within the church because of his outspoken efforts to be with the poor and to advocate with them. I pray that the pressures may ease on him.

But it troubles me when I recall some of the last things Monseñor Santos said to me before I left Honduras in August. I mentioned that I hoped to return in late January. Nonchalantly he said something like – “if I am still alive and they haven’t removed me.” I really admire his courage and his willingness to risk life and career for the sake of the poor. May God truly bless and protect him.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Last Monday night St. Thomas Aquinas parish council approved my request to go to Honduras to work in the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán - not alone, but as a mission from St. Thomas.
God is good.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

As the horrors of terror hit Mombai, India, as well as Israel, Lebanon, and Gaza, I shudder - and pray that we may really find ways to respond to injustice and war that respect all humans, not just those like us.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My first post
This is an experiment - a chance to think publicly, or at least to let others see some of my thoughts in bold print.
The title I've chosen for this blog comes from my experience in 1992 volunteering in the parish of Suchitoto, El Salvador. I worked mostly in the far western rural area of the parish, near Haciendita 2. There people began calling my "Hermano Juancito" - brother little John. ("Juancito" is a affectionate diminutive form of "Juan," Spanish for John.)
Hasta pronto.