Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Each month Padre Efraín Romero, the pastor of the parish of Dulce Nombre de María, sends out a letter to all the communities in the parish. The members of the parish council distribute it to all the villages in the hopes that it will be read to all the parishioners.

The letter often covers a wide range of topics and sometimes announces meetings or training session or other opportunities.

This month, the month of the family here in Honduras, he reminded parents of their responsibilities – to provide food for the children, to make sure the kids go to school, to teach the Catholic faith to their children, to make sure the children receive the sacraments and go to religious education.

But he also raised other issues.

Honduras is now in the midst of the election season, with the parties choosing their candidates. But here there are some interesting twists. A few weeks ago the vice-president (who happens to be running for the presidency) revealed that the president called in some members of his party and distributed 1 million lempira (about $190,000) to each of them for projects in their areas. Here many complain that money comes to their communities for projects every four years, just before the elections. It’s just another form of corruption, trying to influence the voting.

In the face of this, Padre Efraín wrote: “Don’t sell your conscience. You’re worth more than a sheet of tin roofing. You ought to know that the tin or the cement is yours, because the money they gave you is yours and what they did was give you something that’s yours?... Wake up; reclaim your rights; don’t let yourself be deceived… I want to tell you very clearly that the evil of our country is bad public administration…”

He went on to describe the social reality of the parish: “Housing for many is very poor; many do not have land to work on; the level of education is very low since many don’t know how to read or write; some roads are in good shape, but others aren’t; health centers don’t have medicine; the young leave us because there are no spaces to develop their dreams and make them real.”

There’s a lot more that he wrote. The parish has formed a small group that will be visiting the mayors of the five municipalities in the parish asking them to be transparent in the use of funds. The parish itself gives the parish council members a monthly report of the income and expenses of the parish, an example of transparency.

And the pastoral work continues. This week he and I will meet together to talk about a few proposals. He has an ambitious proposal to train the catechists and pastoral workers in the parish. He wants to provide follow up in the training program for making silos as well as develop a program to promote family vegetable gardens. He is planning two educational sessions on Saint Paul in this year that is honoring the birth of St. Paul the Apostle.

The needs are great and, though the material resources of the parish are few, there are many people who devote their time in parish projects. And so the work continues – with a little, a lot is being done.

No comments: