A month ago I left for a twelve day visit to the United States. I’ve been back here in Honduras a little more than two weeks.
Yesterday I realized that I have not written about either experience, except for a Mass for the victim of a killing.
I won’t belabor you with details of my trip to the United States. It was largely to visit cousins and friends on the East Coast – most of whom I had not seen for at least two years. I had a few special surprises – seeing two guys who were undergraduate together with me and whom I hadn’t seen for 45 years! I also spoke at the University of Scranton, my undergraduate school, sharing a bit about my experience here in Honduras. A highlight was a get together of cousins on my mother’s side as well as a great visit with a cousin on my dad’s side. There were a good number of other joys.
I spent a few days in the New York City area and did take advantage of my time to visit a few museums, see friends, and even run into someone who had graduated in 1991 from Iowa State. I got to the Thomas Merton at Columbia University and saw his letter asking for conscientious objector status.
One of the most enjoyable experiences was spending a few hours in the Metropolitan Museum of Art with five adults and four kids (between one and half and eight years old).
While waiting for a friend near Columbia I visited a sculpture park just south of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine. This image of a dove captivated my imagination.
When I got back to Plan Grande on April 21 I had a lot of work waiting for me.
First I had to facilitate a workshop on liturgy for one of the parish. I had done the workshop before, but a number of circumstances led me to do it almost singlehandedly.
Then I had a two day workshop on Transformation of Conflicts for Caritas staff. I had asked Sister Pat Farrell to help me and so we spent a full day preparing. We both had read and appreciate Crucial Conversations which we used for part of the workshop. This first attempt to work together went well; maybe we have a road show!
The day after the workshop I visited a contact at Beneficio Santa Rosa to try to arrange processing and shipping of coffee from the coop in formation which I wrote about in April here. It looks as if they will be able to help; I’m waiting to hear from them – hopefully soon.
Friday was May Day, a national holiday – to celebrate workers. I spent it working on materials for the catechists workshops.
Saturday I accompanied Padre German to Mar Azul for the funeral of a church leader who had been killed there. I briefly wrote about that here.
This week I had two catechists workshops – 23 arrived on Tuesday, 17 today. I’ll have two more next week.
One of the more interesting, though troubling, part of one workshop was the response of one small group who was working on identifying sins of specific age groups and how to work with them on these issues.
The group working on kids between 10 and 13 at first identified “curiosity” as a sin. I controlled myself and just asked them what they meant. They were concerned that kids had curiosity about things like animals copulating. I asked enough questions to help them see that curiosity is not the real issue and it is hardly a sin. I even got them to ask if the problem is that there are not many good resources for young people to satisfy their curiosity in a way that will help them mature in healthy and moral ways. I suggested that the problem is not curiosity but the failure of church people to really speak to young people about sexuality in a healthy positive way – not just saying “Don’t fornicate.”
Now sexuality may be a major issue to consider this year!
I’ve brought it up at both catechists’ training sessions and will do it again this coming week. We’ll see if I’m run out of town for bringing these issues up!
Tomorrow I have a meeting of the leaders of base communities in one of the parish zones. It’s the first time I’ve done it alone and I’m still not sure what I’ll do.
What’s coming up?
On May 16 Padre German will be officially installed by the bishop as pastor of the Dulce Nombre parish; he’s been the pastoral administrator for more than two years. God willing, I will also be admitted as a candidate to the diaconate at the same Mass.
May 23 is the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero. God willing, I will go for the beatification – but taking a few more days in El Salvador to visit with friends.
It’s busy – but I still have time for reading, writing, praying, and quiet – even though I have a sinsonte that accompanies me when I pray in the morning. (Supposedly the sinsonte is a mockingbird; but my visitor is black, and so is, possibly, Melanoptila glabrirostris).
Thank God for everything – even the sinsonte. At least the chiquirines - cicadas - have moved away. For the first few days back, they were my alarm clock – loudly proclaiming the dawn at almost exactly 5:12 am, three days in a row!