Friday, March 11, 2011

The future of Honduras is with the poor

Today I headed to San Pedro Sula to welcome five members of Saint Thomas Aquinas parish in Ames, Iowa. They’ll be spending ten days here, mostly getting to know the work of the parish of Dulce Nombre de María in Dulce Nombre de Copán and helping in a small project in the village of San Juan, Concepción, in the parish.

I’ve been busy not only doing my regular work in the parish and in Caritas but also showing a student around so she can do a study on liberation theology and the church’s response to the coup.

Thursday I was able to go with her to one of Caritas’ Schools of Democracy and Participation. These schools, which have five sessions, are being shared in nine places in the diocese and bring together people from almost all the parishes. The participants return to their parish and share the “school” with other parishioners. It’s a real attempt to help people become aware of their possibilities and responsibilities to transform Honduras, or, as they say, to “refound Honduras.”

Manuel, the facilitator of the session, is a marvelous popular teacher, engaging the participants in the learning process. But the participants are astounding, most of them campesinos who work in the fields to sustain their families. Some of them walked three or four hours from their villages to get to where they could take busses to get to the program.

But their ability to analyze was impressive. This was the fifth session of their “school,” and so they have talked about their dignity as children of God, their human rights, the government of Honduras and the current crisis. But what especially impressed me was the way that they and Manuel so often made references – overt and subtle – to scripture. For them scripture is central in their lives – personally and socially.

This intimate knowledge of scripture has astounded me since I got here. They can often cite chapter and verse and they seek to live it. Of course, these are folks who have a commitment to their faith and there are many who hardly ever cross the threshold of a church. But these are people who will walk hours to get to a meeting. And they will participate with enthusiasm - often sharing hymns that reflect a faith that does justice.

Many of them are also committed to share what they have learned with others. In many parishes the workshops on political formation as well as the workshops on Catholic Social Teaching are being repeated by the people who have come to the deanery meetings.

If Honduras is to experience a real change, these are the efforts that will help bring it about since they work from the base – small base communities in remote villages.


Interesting footnote: This is my 400th post on Hermano Juancito.

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