Saturday, February 25, 2012

Catechists' workshop in Dulce Nombre

Helping the formation of catechists and other pastoral workers is part of my ministry in the parish of Dulce Nombre. Friday and Saturday morning the parish had training for 45 catechists; many were new, but some had not yet completed the training program.

We were supposed to have it in two locations and I was in the remote location. Only seven showed up  - though another six arrived after I had left and were picked up by another pick up.

When we all got to the parish center there were 45 catechists present for the training – which really pushed the limits of the parish center.

Most of the catechists inside the meeting hall.

In the afternoon I had two hours to explain baptism. No, I didn't talk for two hours straight!

I always like to do something that they’ll remember and will help them connect their faith with their daily life.

So we gathered at a shaded corner of the soccer field and I proceeded to ask them what water is good for, why they use it. The typical responses of wash clothes, clean yourself, refresh yourself on a hot day, quench thirst helped them to see that water is an essential of life. But they added two ideas I had not thought of water is needed for cooking most food and water is used in construction of churches (and other buildings.) While we were talking I proceeded to occasionally sprinkle them with water which brought any number of smiles.

Was I having fun?

Later, inside the meeting room, one person asked me about different types of baptism. She had heard of the baptism of desire and knew there were three types. She later explained how a relative’s 21 day child had died while the father was taking the child to a clinic. People lamented at the wake that the child had not been baptized. Rosa explained that the parents had the desire to baptize the child but had not yet been able to and that their desire was enough to consider the child baptized, welcomed into the Church and then into the Reign of God in heaven.

Later while speaking to her, she talked about her mother. Her mother, one of the first persons from her village to come in and visit the Eucharist in the main church, had a deep devotion to the Eucharist.

Her mother was dying and they were unable to get a priest to come for confession and Communion. Rosa told her mother to pray to Jesus who could forgive her. A little later Rose returned and her mother was beaming. “Jesus came and heard my confession,” her mother said. “And he gave me Communion.”

Later that night her mother died.

Some might dismiss this as the dream of an uneducated superstitious woman. But I think it is a sign of the deep faith of people like her and their profound devotion to the Eucharist. Why wouldn’t Jesus hear her confession, forgive her sins, and share His Body with her?

The workshop was a little chaotic at times, especially when the parish coordinator had to leave to arrange a funeral of a young man who was killed in a motorcycle accident (that I had passed on the way to the workshop.) Four of the catechists in the training session  were from the dead man’s village and left in the evening for the wake.  Saturday afternoon Fr. Henry said a funeral Mass for the young man.

Many of the catechists were young. Others have been involved in church work for ages. The level of education is quite low and many of the people have difficulty in reading. Many also don’t read very distinctly or loudly. So I spent about 20 minutes helping them project their voices.

Toward the end of the workshop one thirteen year old, Marcos Tulio, from the remote village of Aldea Nueva, read a scripture passage. I was stunned at how well he did it and made sure that he know it. I also asked him if he was going to school. “No,” he told me.

Though he had finished sixth grade he hasn’t continued. There is no middle school in his village or nearby and his family probably can’t afford to send him elsewhere.

I did encourage him to think of going next year to the distance learning program, Maestro en Casa, which is in a town not far from where he lives – maybe only an hour walk.

It is a shame that people who show such potential often don’t have opportunities to develop it. However, we’ll see how he will be as a catechist.

I took some folks partly out to the villages after the workshop. Julio Cesar will probably only have to walk about 2 hours instead of four.

I returned to Santa Rosa, a bit tired, but happy after being with such good folk.

Tomorrow, I’m off to Delicias, Concepción, for their Celebration of the Word. I’ll bring the Eucharist and afterwards I’ll talk with them about hosting a group from St Thomas Aquinas in Ames to work on a project they have in Delicias.

I am blessed.

Some of the catechists in the park during a break.

1 comment:

John (Juancito) Donaghy said...

This is my 500th posting on this blog. Thanks to all who read my reflections.