Friday, August 21, 2015

Workshops, Masses, and More

I’ve been a bit busy.

Catechists’ workshops

These past two weeks I facilitated four workshops for catechists in the four zones of the parish. About 105 catechists came.

Beside arranging details for the coming 550 or so confirmations, I tried to help them find ways to be creative in their classes when they don’t have written material. That is not always easy, especially since the educational system is based on memorization of facts (or opinions) without encouraging real critical thinking.

As I was preparing for the workshops I began to wonder whether the catechists and the young people in religious education have a sense of the stages of the life of Jesus. So I had them share various events of the life of Jesus. We put them on pieces of paper and taped them to the wall in order.  It was not always easy, though they could name a large number of events. But I think a real problem was putting the events in context and in relation to other events. We’ll have to work on that.

To reinforce the lesson I shared the mysteries of the Rosary which provide a sort of resumen of the life of Jesus.

In response to the violence in Honduras, I decided to have one group dramatize the story of Saint Francis taming the Wolf of Gubbio, one of my favorite stories. I was surprised that a few people did not know who Saint Francis was and many never heard the story of St. Francis and theWolf.   

In three places the people were reluctant to try to dramatize. But in all cases, the story was one of the parts of the workshop they liked.

We have work to do.

Last summer the Vacation Bible School at St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames raised money which I used to buy crayons.  I passed them out at the workshop.

Mass in a front yard

Last Monday I went to the nearby village of Torreras. This village has just begun having pastoral work within the village. At this point a group from one of the other villages in the sector comes to lead a Celebration of the Word and to lead religious education. However, two young women who were baptized at the Easter Vigil and will be confirmed this October came to a catechist training session.

Last Monday Toreras celebrated its feast day, the Assumption of Mary, two days late, since Padre German could not get there on Saturday.

 It was a simple celebration in the front yard of one of the houses, with an improvised awning. People came from three other neighboring communities to help with the celebration. But it was great to see the people of Toreras beginning to become even more integrated into the parish. Padre German told them that he would be putting them on his calendar for Masses every two months.

Accompanying volunteers

A few months ago the directors of Amigos de Jesús asked me to help them with their volunteers from the US. Amigos de Jesús provide a home and a school for poor children, which now includes a dimension of bi-lingual education. They also have opened their school to some local children.

They have five to seven volunteers each year, mostly young college graduates who work in various ways in the home.

They came to Plan Grande for a day earlier this month for a little background on the church here in Honduras. I will be visiting them in Amigos de Jesús every six or eight weeks, to visit with them. It will be a way to us to just talk together. I will also try to help them think and pray through their volunteer experience.

It will be good to do something with young people in English.

Sending coffee

As some of my readers may know I have been accompanying a group of small coffee producers who are forming a cooperative. Five sacks of coffee are being sent for sale in the United States, thanks to the initiative of a young man who visited here in January 2014 and the efforts of St. Thomas Aquinas. I wrote about this last December here.

Delivering the coffee to the processor
It has been a sharp learning curve – with lots of details that tested my patience. But the coffee is on its way, thank God. I am hoping that this is the beginning of a growing market for these small producers.

What else?

I am also accompanying various communities on Sunday mornings, leading the Celebrations of the Word and bringing Communion. I am also accompanying Padre German several times each month as he goes to various communities for Mass.

I am also doing a lot of reading and studying as part of the formation for the permanent diaconate. I just finished an online course on Canon Law. That sounds boring and difficult, but I found it surprisingly helpful.

I am hoping to get to Progresso, Yoro, next Monday. I’ve been looking for an English-speaking spiritual director and I have a lead.

The upcoming months

September should be busy.

The parish celebrates its feast day, the Holy name of Mary,  on September 12. Lots of events are being planned, including a novena of Masses and a procession on the feast day. I’m sure that I’ll be involved.

There may be another Alternatives to Violence workshop in the Gracias prison.

I will also be going to Tegucigalpa for two days to help the coffee cooperative hand in its papers for legal status.

I am hoping to get to Iowa for ten days in October, to visit St. Thomas. It will be a short visit because the first set of confirmations are set for October 23 and 24 and I have to make sure that the communities have everything ready for the liturgies.

In addition another round of catechists’ workshops begins October 27.

And so, life goes on in the parish and I am glad to be part of this ministry.

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