Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Odds and ends

This week I am reminded of the variety of ministries I am involved in or which I accompany.

Last Saturday, after the week-long Caritas workshop on Peace and Reconciliation, I went to Dulce Nombre for the Parish Council meeting (and to try to capture Padre Efraín to talk about several major issues).

The Parish Council meeting went normally with the presence of Padre Julio César Galdámez, the associate pastor. But toward the end, they began to talk about the educational situation in their villages. At times the teachers arrive late in the week and leave early; there is one teacher who has the tenured position (plaza) in one village, collects the salary, but sends and pays, poorly, a high school graduate to do the teaching! The parish council will take back to their village church councils the proposal to monitor the presence of teachers in their village and their effectiveness. This is a good step – not just for the education of the children of Honduras but also for the empowerment of the people in calling for accountability.

Padre Efraín arrived at the meeting late and he spoke about the group from St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ames that is coming in mid-March. As part of his efforts to improve the church property in Dulce Nombre, the group will be working with people in the parish to construct a retaining wall for the football field; the wall will also serve as one wall for the combination kitchen and dining the parish plans to construct for groups. Now there is no place for people to sit down and eat and the kitchen is totally inadequate.

Work on the wall will begin the Monday the St. Thomas group is here, but it will continue into the next week. Each of the three zones of the parish will send 10 to 15 people to work for three days; the first group with the St. Thomas folks and the others on their own.

This will continue our way of working – not doing something for the people here, but working with them. Groups are here to accompany the work and ministry of the Honduran people – not do it for them.

This week the priests are on retreat. Padre Efraín will be explaining to them the workshops on Catholic Social Teaching which we hope to be able to offer the base communities as well as details of a grant we got from the Raskob Foundation to provide new computers and initial internet access for the parishes. As is often the case here, things were left to the last moment and so Padre Efraín asked me to prepare a sign up sheet for the computer project for the parishes. – Oh, how I wish people would plan ahead more here. This is one of my cultural biases that I don’t think I’ll ever get over.

At Caritas, I end up doing a lot of accompanying and monitoring work, as well as what some might call “human resources.” This week at Caritas I’m going to try to meet with many of the employees to see how they are doing.

At the urging of one employee I am also seeing that we put into effect one of the suggestions of the December planning and evaluation meeting we had. We’ll initiate a prayer and reflection session every Monday morning. Padre Efraín also offered to celebrate a Mass here on March 19.

What else?

The lunch program for kids has moved from the obispado (the diocesan office) to a space in the school and program center run by the Salesian sisters here in Santa Rosa. They moved last week and I haven’t made it there yet. I hope to get there today.

Two women from the Alternatives to Violence Program passed through Santa Rosa two weeks ago and they would like to offer at least one workshop here. So I’m trying to see when and where this could happen. The program started with a request to the Quakers from prisoners in New York State to provide help with violence in the prisons. It has expanded beyond that and now has a presence in Africa as well as in Latin America (El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Colombia). They hope to begin work in Honduras, supporting nonviolent efforts for social change.

I am preparing for the spring break trip from St. Thomas which is always good – but demands a lot of preparation. There may also be a May trip!

There’s more – but I don’t want to bore you.

However, I do want to inform you that I was chosen "King" at the Caritas Peace and Reconciliation workshop last week. I will "reign" until the August workshop when I'll have to give up my crown - unless I decide to stage an "auto-golpe."

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