Friday, January 04, 2008

A New Year

I spent New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in Dulce Nombre de Copán. Padre Efraín celebrated Mass at 10 pm on the Eve and at 9:00 in the morning.

In the afternoon I joined him and some others for a Mass in a remote village, Vega Redonda. In the small church, lit only with a Coleman lantern, Mass was celebrated. The music was good, with three instrumentalists – even though they sang a Gloria in place of the Alleluia. (Oh, the need for formation in liturgy.)

I had several opportunities to speak with Padre Efraín, who has a strong desire to develop the spiritual and physical lives of the parish. He plans to form a formation team to help develop materials and leaders for religious education and for the base communities in the parish. He also hopes to work on improving the lives of the people with workshops in vegetable gardens and in the construction and use of small silos for grain.

Pade Efráin gave me a ride back to Santa Rosa since he had some chores to do and was leaving a young man at the bus terminal who was going to the north coast to volunteer for a short time with a team who reach out to young people – a local missionary.

The weekend before New Year’s Eve I spent in Camalote, in the municipality of Dolores. I first participated in the meeting of leaders in the area. Sunday morning they had me preach at the Celebration of the Word. There were not a lot of people there but it is the time of the coffee harvest and Christmas vacation. But what struck me was that I was prayed for twice during the celebration. It is humbling to be prayed for so earnestly.

What became clearer is that I am hear as a missionary, one sent by God to help reveal where God is present here and to help all of us see and experience God’s love in our midst. It’s a call to go out and spread the Good News.

There are lots of ways to do this. Wednesday night when I went to Weekend’s Pizza for a meal to celebrate the new year, I ate with some US families who work with Protestant groups here. I had met them before. I invited Trish, the wife of one family, to join me the next day to visit with the kids in Hogar San José, a home for malnourished kids under five run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. I had gone there a few times in the first month I was here and had visited during the week after Christmas.

The kids are energetic, to say the least, and long for human warmth. There are about five workers who care for forty kids. They were all over me and Trish. After a while they quieted down, but still wanted to be lifted up into the air. We stayed until the kids were put in their beds for a nap after lunch.

Last week I had seen one child, named Valentín – very thin, with twisted limbs, who can neither walk or speak. He does get around and is somewhat responsive to attention. I found out Thursday that he is nine years old. His presence really touched me. Perhaps he reminded me of John Hadwiger who often came to Mass at St. Thomas with his mother, Ellen. John is seriously disabled but very responsive. Whenever I would go over and greet him he would say, “I missed you.” He also often would respond very appropriately - and loudly – during Mass. I hope I get to see him and his mother when I get to Ames later this month. (See the photo for the three of us:

A New Year
– a time to reach out, to be missionaries,
– a time to be grateful for the prayers of the poor,
– a time to let oneself be touched by the needs of the disabled,
– a time to be give thanks to God and respond in love.

No comments: