Sunday, October 20, 2013

A new stage of my mission

God willing, next year I will be living in a rural village in the parish of Dulce Nombre.

For about a year I’ve been thinking about moving to a village. I even sent out a few feelers when I visited to see what the people might say.

A few weeks after I came to Honduras on June 2007, I have lived on a street in Santa Rosa de Copán. It is a friendly street which has been paved for a few years. (The first few years it was all mud or dust.)

I know many of the people on the street and feel very much at home here. Spanish Franciscan sisters live on the street and I’ve sort of been adopted by them.

Up the top of the hill is the church of San Martín de Porres, where Padre Fausto often presides at the Sunday Masses and often gives very challenging homilies.

It is a good place to live.

But I’ve been feeling a call to move to the countryside. It’s where I love to work and where I think there is a greater opportunity for me to serve the poor.

I’ve been helping out in the Dulce Nombre de María parish since September 2007, but it’s been from a distance. I feel that it is probably time to live among them.

This call has been reinforced by the new priest in the parish, Padre German Navarro. He is very open and collaborative and is a  hard worker, visiting all the parish’s 47 villages and towns every two months.

I have talked this over with him and he is very supportive. After all, it does mean I’ll be more available to help.

When I went to Ames at the beginning of this month, I shared my idea with friends, as well as with members of the St. Thomas Aquinas Honduras Ministry committee.

Talking over with Jan and Cornelia, retired sociologists at Iowa State, who have Latin American experience, helped me clarify my reasons for moving and some ideas of what I’d be able to do.

A dinner visit with my good friends, Gary and Nancy, both former international volunteers with the Mennonite Central Committee in Bolivia and El Salvador, helped me to see it better in terms of our shared faith and our shared Franciscan charism.

This week I got a chance to speak with our bishop, Monseñor Darwin Andino, to make sure that this would be acceptable. He just asked me if Padre German was okay with this – as he is.

At Friday’s parish council meeting I shared with them that I would have more presence in the parish and would be moving to a village. Someone asked me if I had chosen a village or if I would pull the name out of a hat. I explained that I had an idea of a place that would allow me good access to some of the more distant parts of the parish and that would have an environment that would be good for me – water an electricity being important.

On Saturday, I went out to the village to meet with the village church council to ask what they thought of this.

A view from the village.

They were very accepting – especially since two had some idea that I was thinking of doing something like this. We talked about several details. I assured them that I would prepare my own meals and that they needn’t worry about finding ways to feed me, though my guess is that I’ll get lots of invitations. I explained that this is something that will not happen until sometime next year. I either have to find a place in the village or build a small house.

I left feeling blessed.

The road out of town, with the school and church on the left.

As I drove back to Santa Rosa I remembered my experience at Mass in St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames the previous Saturday. The Communion hymn we sang was a favorite: “Taste and See,” based on Psalm 34. After receiving the Body of Christ, as I approached the cup of the Blood of Christ, being offered by my friend Gary, we sang the last line of the first verse, “The Lord has been so good to me.”

I nearly burst into tears, remembering the goodness of the Lord – a goodness I have experienced again and again, especially here in Honduras.

The Church in Plan Grande
And so, next year, God willing, I will be living in the village of Plan Grande.

The Lord has truly been so good to me.


Charles said...

Great news, John!

I only hope that electricity means that you will be able to continue to post. Also that there's a good mechanic near you to help out with your truck. That truck, I am sure, has helped out a lot of other people.

John (Juancito) Donaghy said...

The village has electricity and my internet modem (like a cell phone dial up) works there, though slowly. There might also be another way to get faster internet.

The truck! Well, it won't be the same truck. I will be soon buying a newer truck. thanks to a gift from some persons. I will have less anxiety about breakdowns, I hope.

Liam O'Doherty, OSA said...

Praying that the Lord continue to bless your work and be with you and the people you serve especially in the coming time of transition.

Anonymous said...

How many people in Plan Grande have a vehicle?

Anonymous said...

I only ask because I'm assuming you would be one of the very few, especially having a brand new truck. Be humble and use public transport, live and travel as the poor live and travel. And water and electricity are not necessities.

John (Juancito) Donaghy said...

Dear "hermanojuancito," your questions are good but I would ask you to identify yourself, at least to me personally by e-mail.

In Plan Grande there are probably at least five trucks. (By the way, mine is not new - it is 11 years old.)

The truck is a part of my ministry since most of the villages in the parish are quite distant, even from Plan Grande, and do not have public transport. To enable the people to take part in workshops, the pastor has decided to have them in four different places, one of which has no public transport access, two of which have limited access.

In addition, when possible I give many of them rides to their villages after workshops.

Plan Grande, like most villages in the parish, has both water and electricity.

Water, by the way, is a human necessity and I will be trying to work for other villages where there is no water project or insufficient water. (If you have access to sources of funding for water projects, please let me know.)