Monday, October 03, 2016

In the darkness, lights

Preparing to celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi tomorrow, I spent most of the day in domestic pursuits – washing clothes, some leaning around the house, dealing with trash, and baking bread.

Tomorrow I plan on going to Mass in the morning in Dolores, Copán. After Mass, I’ll head to Gracias to spend the evening with the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Family (the Dubuque Franciscans) – sharing the feast of St. Francis with a part of my Franciscan family. One of the loaves of bread is for our meal together.

There has been much darkness here, as I noted in my previous post. But there are also many lights.

On the day of my ordination the rector of the country’s major seminary, located in Tegucigalpa, invited me to come and speak with the seminarians about my vocational discernment and the diaconate.

On Tuesday, September 20, I arrived at the seminary, after spending the night before in Gracias with the sisters. I preached at the evening Mass and then gave a talk at 8 pm. I have posted it in Spanish here but I haven’t yet translated it into English! I was also asked to preach at the morning Mass for those studying philosophy. I stuck to the readings and didn’t philosophize!

I left early which was good since I had a flat tire way up in the mountains of Intibucá – about 17 kilometers from the nearest town with a llantera, a tire repair garage. But, before the flat, I had the chance to see the rice fields near Jesús de Otoro, incredibly green. I also stopped just outside of the town of Intibucá to buy two pounds of strawberries! 

Friday, October 23, to Sunday, October 25, I spent in San Pedro Sula at a workshop on analysis of reality, sponsored by the Social Ministry of the northern and western dioceses. Padre Ismael Moreno, SJ, popularly known as Padre Melo, led the workshop. I need to review my notes, especially his analysis of the last fifty years on Latin America.
Padre Melo
There were five others from the dioceses of Santa Rosa and it was a delight to talk with them during the workshop. I gave a ride to the workshop to Rigo who is the Social Ministry coordinator in his village and in the diocese. On the ride, he shared a bit of his story. What impressed me is how he had little formal education but finished three grades through an alternative program.

The representatives of the diocese of Sant aRosa de Copán
I also met a young man whom I had met before here in the parish of Dulce Nombre. Walter is now living in the diocese of Trujillo on the northeast coast, doing a lot of youth work on the parish and diocesan level. He’s from a difficult and conflictive area here in the department of Copán. He returned with me to see his grandmother and some other relatives. He too impressed me. He only studied in grade school but he reads a lot and I found him very thoughtful.

There are good people who do marvelous things despite limitations. They reaffirm my long held belief that formal education is not the real standard for determining the effectiveness and worth of so many people here (and throughout the world.)

Last Thursday I had a delightful workshop with catechists in El Zapote del Santa Rosa. They had asked me to help them think through the Eucharist. I pulled together a few thoughts but also incorporated some insights from Bishop Robert Barron’s Eucharist, a work from 2008 which I found very helpful – personally and for my ministry.

Friday and Saturday we had our second training for members of the parish who will go on mission to other villages from October 9 to 16. Padre German has told them to go without money and without their cellphone. They will depend on the people in the village where they will go.  It sounds like Jesus sending out the disciples!

Seventy-three came and agreed to go on mission. Two of the sisters, Oblatas al Divino Amor, Padre German, and I led the workshop. I need to write some more on what we are doing. But it was impressive to find so many willing to spend a whole week in mission. I was really impressed by one young man whose mother died last week. He is active as a catechist and with the youth group in his village and is willing to take the risk of going on mission – even as he mourns his mother who endured a struggle with cancer before her death.

Sunday, I had a meeting with the youth leaders. There were only six of us, but it was a very fruitful meeting. Two of the groups wanted to plan events for the youth of the parish – one at the end of October, another in November. They finally agreed to a date for one at the end of this month, October 30, in Delicias, Concepción. Since this falls within the week of my visit to Ames, Iowa, I won’t be there, but I trust these young people who took the initiative. Padre German will be able to come in the afternoon for a Mass. I wish I could be there.

These are some of the signs of hope here in Honduras. There are more which I hope I can share in the coming weeks and months.

And the heliconia is blooming!

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