Today I officially became an associate of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Family (better known as the Dubuque Franciscans) at a Mass in Gracias, Lempira.
|Signing the associates book|
The real news, though, is that the Sisters received a young Honduran woman, Hermana Erika, as a novice in their community. Erika has been living with the two Sisters who have been in Gracias for several years, Sister Nancy Meyerhofer and Sister Brenda Whetstone.
Sister Pat Farrell, one of the vice-presidents of the community and the head of the US Leadership Conference of Women Religious received Erika as a novice and officially welcomed me as an associate. Betty, a woman who is volunteering in Gracias and living with the sisters was welcomed as a volunteer.
|PAdre Loncho (seated), Sister Pat, Betty, me, Hermana Erika, Sister Nancy|
The Mass was simple but full of meaning, especially since today is the feast of the Holy Family.
I was asked to prepare a short explanation of why I wanted to take this step. Here is an edited version of what I shared (in Spanish)
I am taking this step to be an associate of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Family as a way to deepen my commitment to Jesus, God who became flesh as a poor man in an oppressed land.This is in some ways a return to my roots, since I spent 6 years in a Franciscan seminary from 1961 to 1967.Francis, il Poverello, the little poor man of Assisi, sought to serve God as a poor man among the poor. His commitment to the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus to the poor, embraced a love for Jesus, God incarnate, and an identification with the poor.I seek this connection with the Dubuque Franciscans because of their commitment to the poor, to peacemaking, and to the wonderful creation God has made.In addition, the sisters in El Salvador and Honduras have been for me a source of inspiration and a community of support. I first met Sister Pat Farrell and Sister Kay Koppes (of beloved memory) in the Calle Real, El Salvador, displaced persons camp. Then in 1992 I spent a little more than six months in the Parish of Suchitoto, El Salvador, where they were serving along with Sister Carol Besch and Sister Nancy Meyerhofer.
Sisters Nancy, Pat, Kay (RIP), and Carol, February 1, 1992, El Salvador
In 2006 Sister Nancy arranged for me to meet Monseñor Luis Alfonso Santos, then bishop of Santa Rosa de Copán. And so I’m here in Honduras, living out my vocacion.But I also need a community – both to support and to challenge me. And so I seek to be an associate of the Dubuque Franciscans.I pray that this association will help me deepen my commitment to the glory of God and the service of the poor.
|OSF associate's pin|
More photos of the ceremony can be found here.