On June 13, 2007, I landed in Honduras to begin my new mission – accompanying the people of the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán. I became a “foreign missionary.”
It has been a good journey, a journey in which I have moved from one ministry to another. I began helping in campus ministry in the Catholic University campus here. In a few months I was also helping in the rural parish of Dulce Nombre de María.
I was also doing a number of things with children – visiting a kindergarten as well as a home for young malnourished children few times a month, helping with a newly started lunch program for poor kids. The lunch program stopped about two years ago and I’m not visiting the kindergarten; recently I’ve begun to try to visit the home for malnourished kids about twice a month.
In 2009 I began to help with the local diocesan office of Caritas. I am slowly moving out of Caritas and will probably end my work with them this year.
My involvement with the parish of Dulce Nombre grew as I became more involved in formation of catechists and other pastoral workers, as well as visits to the villages. The parish I came from in the US, St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames, Iowa, became a sister parish with Dulce Nombre.
A new priest has involved me even more in the parish helping with formation activities and lots more. I will move out to a village in the parish later this year in order to be more available to the parish – not only for formation but also to help the people find ways to work together to improve their lives.
This has meant, in some ways, a change in my understanding of why I am here.
Before I came here a spiritual director, as well as some good friends, asked me why I was doing this. My initial response, which I gave without even thinking about it, was that I was going to Honduras “to serve those most in need.”
Later I changed it slightly: I came “to be of service to those most in need.” This might mean direct service, but it also might mean other ways to help the people grow in faith and in their pursuit of a decent life.
This has kept me going for many years.
I especially see my ministry as one to encourage the people to grow – not to do things for them, but to help them try to discover their ways to become a people that better reflects the Kingdom of God.
Last month, during a retreat day with the Franciscan sisters in Gracias, Lempira, I realized that my reason for being here has changed. I now sense that God is calling me “to walk with His people,” to accompany them.
Where this will lead, I do not know. But I feel a deep peace in this.
Later today or tomorrow I will write what I have done on this day, my anniversary of becoming a "foreign missionary."
God is good.