Sunday, July 19, 2015

Life goes on

Saturday, after a Parish Council meeting, I accompanied Padre German to two Masses. I have been accompanying him several times a month to Masses in various communities.

The first on this past Saturday, in Quebraditas, was a Quinceañera celebration. A young woman was celebrating her fifteenth birthday – a major celebration of coming of age of a young woman in some Latin American communities. Here it is not a common occurrence – possibly because of the costs of renting dresses and suits as well as providing food.

I was delightfully surprised at how the celebration was not to show off the young woman, but a real step to help her grow as a person of faith.
The quinceañera and her parents
Padre German asked me to say a few words on the readings: 1 John 4: 7-11 and  Matthew 25: 1-13. The text in Spanish can be found here.

After the Mass we rushed off to San Agustin, arriv4ing a little late for a wedding. I hadn’t expected to go to the wedding but I am glad I went.

The groom in his mid twenties had been baptized on July 5 and I had been there for the baptism. His twenty-something bride has been involved in the church. I think she has been a catechist.

The wedding was simple – much simpler than the quineañera celebration. What struck me most as I sat in front, helping during the Mass, was the sight of the two parents beside their children. If I may be a bit culturally insensitive, they were typical campesinos, people connected to the campo, the countryside. Their clothes were simple and the bride’s father had his “cowboy” sombrero.

San Agustín church decorated for the wedding
There was something very real and down-to-earth about the celebration. I was glad I had gone there.

If I am ordained a permanent deacon here, I will probably be asked by the pastor to be the church’s official witness at weddings as well as to do the sacramental preparation. That will be a real privilege (and will relieve him of some work). I won’t have to do the catechetical preparation since that is done in the villages by couples but there are “canonical” things that must be done.

In the meantime I keep busy.

I’ve begun to visit various communities on Sundays twice a month, bringing them communion for their Celebration of the Word. On July 12 I went to Delicias Concepción and on July 26 I’ll get to Oromilaca. Today I stayed here in Plan Grande – but I ended up leading the celebration and distributing communion.

As part of my formation for the permanent diaconate, the bishop had me attend the national theological study week for clergy. About 80 or so priests, transitional deacons, transitional deacon candidates, and I were there. Bishop Vittorino Girardi of Costa Rica led us in a study of Christology. It was a good conference though I didn’t learn much new, but I was very pleased when, at one point, the bishop noted Gustavo Gutierrez’s work We Drink from Our Own Wells.

This week, the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán has a study week for clergy on spiritual direction. The bishop wants me to be there.

The identity of the deacon is to serve – especially those on the margins. And so I'm involved in a few activities serving the people here.

I am still working with a cooperative of small coffee farmers which is being organized. The diocesan office of Caritas is helping them get legal status but I’ve been involved in trying to get the coffee to the United States. The parish of St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames, Iowa, is working to see that there are buyers for their coffee. This year it’s not a lot – under 1,000 pounds – but if things go well there may be more for next year. It’s been a lot of work, with lots of headaches trying to maneuver through the systems, but I have hope that something good will come for these farmers.

At the end of the month, God willing, I’ll join Franciscan Sister Pat Farrell in an Alternatives to Violence workshop in the prison. That could be the start of something really good in a society so plagued with violence.

And in the midst of this I’m taking an on-line course in Canon Law.

I also have to find time in the next few weeks for a trip to Tegucigalpa to get my residence card renewed. I have residency until 2017 but I have to get a new card every year – which often means two days in one of my least favorite cities in Honduras. But it’s something I have to do to continue what I feel called to do – be present to the people here as a servant, in the name of Christ.

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