Saturday, April 25, 2009

Visiting Ames

My intention has been to visit Ames about once a year. However, I’m now in Ames, with Father Efraín Romero, the priest I work with in Caritas and in the parish of Dulce Nombre. We in the midst of a quick trip to the US, visiting the Washington area and Iowa for the sake of making contacts, exploring possibilities of collaboration, and searching out possible sources of financing for major projects.

But this time in Ames has been very nourishing for my soul. Thursday night Father Efraín preached at Thursday Night Liturgy, the 10 pm Mass for students at St. Thomas Aquinas Church. I learned that the Service and justice team had won a local award for youth volunteerism and that a member of the team had gotten an ISU scholarship for service.

Shari Reilly, the director of campus ministry, had invited Father Efraín and me to go with a group of students to the Emergency Residence Project, the Ames shelter for the homeless. The dedication of the students really impressed Father Efraín and I had a chance to reconnect with the ERP director Vic Moss and Troy who also works there. Again it’s amazing to see how the students gave of themselves. I also was reminded of the great dedication of people like Vic and Troy to the lowly of the earth.

Saturday we went to Des Moines to meet with Casey, who had been a Peace Corps worked in Father Efraín’s former parish in Honduras. Casey wants to get his church to get involved in helping in Honduras. They will consider a proposal to help reconstruct one of the churches in the parish of Dulce Nombre. What surprised Father Efraín was the fact that this was a Protestant Chruch – from the Disciples of Christ denomination – which was willing to consider rebuilding a Catholic Church. Such ecumenism is almost impossible to find in Honduras.

Saturday night Father Efraín and I were invited to the dinner at St. Thomas for graduating seniors. It was delightful to see these young people finishing up an important part of their lives. It was even a great pleasure to run across a student I had once taught in a Catholic Social Thought class at Iowa State University about four years ago.

But for me the highlight was to witness the presentation of a 2000 ISU grad , Paxton Williams, which featured a dramatization of George Washington Carver. I saw one of the first presentations he did in 2000 as his senior honors project. He did a marvelous job bearing witness to the legacy of George Washington Carter and the inspiring and thought-provoking witness of Carver’s life.

It’s a blessing to be here – my second home. (Honduras is my first home now.)

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