Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Confirmations, a Franciscan get-together, and transforming conflict

Monday morning I went out to San Agustín, Copán for confirmations by Monseñor Darwin Andino, our bishop.

Monseñor Darwin, Padre Efraín, Padre Henry

 San Agustín is about 40 kilometers from Santa Rosa – about 90 minutes by car. Surprisingly the last portion of the road is fairly good since the mayor of San Agustín has done much for the municipality.

Those to be confirmed came from San Agustín and from four nearby villages. Most were young people from 14 to their early twenties, but there was one older man from San Agustín, probably in his seventies.

After Mass and a meal, I headed to Gracias, to spend some time with the Dubuque Franciscan Sisters there. A special treat was the visit of a good friend, Sister Pat Farrell, one of the members of the congregations whom I have known since about 1987 when I met her when she and another sister were serving in a  displaced persons camp outside San Salvador, El Salvador. In 1992, I volunteered for six months in Suchitoto, El Salvador, where I worked with the Salvador parish priest and six US sisters, including Pat and Nancy (who has been ministering in Gracias for more than six years.)

We talked of many things but the highlight was centered around evening prayer. We – Sisters Pat, Nancy, and Brenda and Betty, a volunteer living with them and I sat in prayer in their small chapel. At the end of Evening Prayer, I signed the Mutual Covenant as an Associate, as a sign of my connecting myself in prayer and mission with the Franciscan sisters of Dubuque.  After this, Pat and Nancy, who had served together in Chile and El Salvador, sang a few songs. Their harmony was outstanding.

Pat and Nancy singing, such harmony!

 I left Tuesday morning for Siguatepepque, after taking Pat and Nancy to the bus station and getting a piece of furniture with Brenda from the local jail.

I’m here in Siguatepeque until Saturday for the final follow up of a series of Caritas workshops on Constructing Peace and Transforming Conflict.

Each morning a team shares a review of what happened, often including memorable quotes. Among the quotes heard yesterday, someone had said: “When I have a nightmare; I think of Juancito; when I am sad I think of Juancito.”

An activity during the Transforming Conflict Workshop

I thank God for this chance to share a bit of the joy I have experienced. I guess that too is part of my Franciscan spirit.

If you haven’t read Pat Farrell’s address to the LCWR assembly, you can find it here in both English and Spanish. It’s worth study and prayer.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Transforming conflict and prison ministries

Almost two months  ago, I was asked by Argentina, who coordinates the Santa Rosa prison ministry, to do a presentation on conflict for a regional prison ministry meeting which would include people from the north coast and our diocese.

I have been doing a few workshops on the topic, partly based on the workshops I’ve received from Caritas Honduras using the materials developed in  Colombia and other places in conjunction with John Paul Lederach.  I also try to incorporate what I’ve learned from the Alternative to Violence Program here as well as from nonviolence training I received in the US years ago.

The theme of the meeting was dealing with conflict. Their theme was “Prison ministries constructing justice and peace, avoiding conflicts.” 

Santa Rosa bishop, Monseñor Darwin Andino, sharing closing remarks

I, however, noted that the challenge is not to avoid conflicts – since conflicts are inevitable; nor is it to resolve conflicts – because resolved conflicts at times leave the underlying conflicts unresolved and new conflicts arise, rooted in the underlying problems. The real challenge is to transform conflicts, seeking to craft a new situation in the face of conflicts.

The workshop went well, better than I had hoped. But it was a humbling experience.

I was going to work with about 60 people who work in the prisons here, some of them former prisoners. Among them was San Pedro Sula auxiliary bishop Romulo Emiliani. At the end of March this year he was the major force to resolve a major conflict that started violently at the San Pedro Sula jail.

At the end of the meeting, Monseñor Emiliani spoke a bit about his role in that conflict. What most impressed me is his courage, his willingness to risk his own life, for others. Three times, he said, he moved into a situation where he could have been killed. But his faith and his dedication to prisoners gave him the courage to proceed forward.

Monseñor Romulo Emiliani

Would there were more people like Monseñor Emiliani.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

New preachers workshop

I’m tired.

Friday, August 24, I led a workshop in Dulce Nombre for new preachers, who will do the reflections at the Celebrations of the Word in their villages. Fourteen showed up and the workshop went well.

I had asked a friend, Jim Hayes, who has a doctorate in preaching and works at Simpson College, for some ideas which I used, partly since they coincided with some of my original plans.

I had to make some changes in my original plans for the workshop – partly because some had little training in liturgy. I ended with a short introduction to the Gospel of Luke since that is the basis of the lectionary next year.

We shared what makes good preaching – and also what makes bad preaching. I had them work in three groups for the description of what makes a good preacher and had them write it on sheets. They explained it and then we put the sheets on the walls.

I had to make some other changes.

One problem here is the reading and comprehension ability of many of the people, even those involved in pastoral work in the villages. And so we spent about half an hour having everyone read sentences from scripture. After I did a short introduction to Luke-Acts, I had them read the first verse of both books. For some it was very difficult but they realize they have difficulties reading (and I mentioned how I sometimes have a hard time pronouncing some words). My guess is that no one ever took time to help them deal with this. I’m going to include it in future workshops.

I almost always end my programs with an evaluation. During the evaluation one of the persons noted – after having explained how they liked my methodology – that what was on the wall was theirs. And if a book is written, it’s theirs, he said. Wow! That made me feel that my efforts to help them grow in faith – and even more in self-confidence – are bearing fruit. They recognize that what they learn comes, at least in part, from them and their experiences.

I will write later about the workshop I did today, Saturday, with members of Prison Ministry from the dioceses in the north and west of the country.

While the preachers’ workshop was going on, some young people were bringing in truckloads of turf and putting them on the soccer field behind the church. Photos follow:

Adán is enjoying the work.

A bit of turf in the parish truck.

laying turf

Padre Efraín and Marcos inspecting the work so far.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hordes of confirmation candidates

The parish of Dulce Nombre normally has confirmations on September 8, the feast of the Nativity of Mary, the parish’s patronal feast.

This year, because there are more than 600 confirmation candidates, there will be six celebrations of the sacrament in the parish – two on September 8; two on August 27, the vigil of the feast of St. Augustine; and two on October 4, the feast of St. Francis. (Ours is not the parish with the most confirmations. A friend of mine tells me that there are usually between 700 and 1200 confirmations each year in the parish where she ministers, Gracias, Lempira.)

I have been involved in some of the retreats and preparatory meetings.

Most of those who will be confirmed are in their mid or late teens but there are almost always some older confirmation candidates. On Sunday, August 12, in San Agustín I mistakenly asked a man who appeared to be in his late sixties to wait to respond to a question until the candidates had answered. He told me that he too was a candidate – and so I profusely apologized in the presence of all the 70 or so candidates present.

On Wednesday, August 15, I went up to Delicias Concepción – 18 kilometers from the town of Dulce Nombre de Copán – for a retreat for the fifty candidates from that zone. What a delightful group who came with their parents and sponsors and filled the small church. 

Confirmation retreat in Delicias

Some of the preparation for confirmation means that some people are baptized. 

The church in San Marcos Pavas

On Saturday, after a morning with the Communion Ministers, I went with Padre Efraín to San Marcos Pavas, the most remote village in the parish.

Some of the musicians in San Marcos Pavas - and a future musician

There were about 12 baptisms and several first communions. One was a thirty-three year old woman whose son was also baptized. She made her first communion and will be confirmed later this year.

Impending rains near San Marcos

After Mass we barely got to the house where we ate when an incredible storm broke. I heard and saw some hail but it rained hard for a long time. We finally left in the rain. Padre Efraín wanted to leave before a gorge we had to cross got too high. We then went to another village, El Zapote where there were 12 first communions and a wedding during Mass and the baptism of the children of the married couple after Mass.  

First communions in El Zapote

 Quite the day, especially for Padre Efraín who had a wedding in the morning in Dolores, Copán.

On Sunday I went to San José El Bosque in another sector of the parish for a retreat with over candidates from that sector. The retreat went well, though I sensed that many of the young people are more shy than in Delicias. This may be due to the level of poverty in the El Bosque area.  But, I was a joy to be with them. Padre Efraín came about noon and had confessions before Mass where there were three baptisms and first communions.

The three who were baptized in San José El Bosque

Two others asked me to help – but I already had commitments.

But this year the parish is seeking to have major follow up for those who have been confirmed.

On October 27, there will be a get-together for all the young people who have been conformed this year or last year, to welcome them more in the parish and to invite them to form base communities for young people in their villages as well as to involve them in various ministries in their villages. There could be as many as1000 young people here in Dulce Nombre.

The church here really evangelizes the people  and tries to nourish in the people the sense that they are the Church. What a privilege to be working with them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy 95th birthday, Monseñor Romero

Today is the 95th anniversary of the birth of Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the martyred archbishop of San Salvador – San Romero of the Americas as many here in Latin America say.

When he was killed at the altar on March 24, 1980, he was a strong advocate of the poor and critic of the repression he saw around him in El Salvador. But he was not always that way.

Many people talk about a conversion of Archbishop Romero after his friend, the Jesuit priest Rutilio Grande, was killed in March 1977. It is very true that that event sparked something within him and opened his heart to be more outspoken in the face of injustice and killing.

But I don’t think it was a road to Damascus experience, where – in one random moment – Monseñor Romero changed.

I think it is more a case of a long conversion where he let himself be opened more to God

His bishop’s motto, taken from St. Ignatius Loyola, was  Sentir con la iglesia – "feel with the church."

But what church?

As a priest in the diocese of San Miguel, Romero did associate with the influential people of the city of San Miguel and throughout the country.  His work with the Cursillos de Cristiandad put him in contact with the political and economic elites in the country.

But he was also known to have a great love for the poor. He would give away the clothes he had to a poor person.

His was the church that cared for the poor.

When he was made auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, something changed and he adopted a much more conservative stance, especially criticizing the Jesuits and other priests who were taking open stand with the poor. But during this time he spent much of his time in the archdiocesan offices, editing the newspaper, and connecting with the powerful..

In those days his church was more the church of the institution.

He was later made bishop of Santiago de María. There his first months were filled with suspicion of the radical priests, especially the Passionists. But several priests and others helped him see the injustice in the coffee fields and throughout the country. His eyes were opened to the poor.

When he was made archbishop of San Salvador in March 1977, he was ready, prepared for a larger task. But it took the death of a dear friend to give him the courage to stand up forcefully, even in the face of opposition by the papal nuncio and other bishops.

He began to see the Church as the People of God, especially the poor.

Therefore to feel with the poor meant feeling the joys and sorrows, the fears and hopes of the people.

And so he was graced by God to become “the voice of the voiceless.”

I believe we are called, as Romero was, to “feel with the church.”

And that church is the church of the poor, of the God who became poor for our sake.

It is the church of the God that Mary praised in her Magnificat, Luke 1: 46-55, today’s Gospel, a God
who raises up the lowly,
who casts down the mighty,
who fills the hungry with good things
and sends the rich away empty.
This is the God we should serve – with joy, at the side of the poor.

The Divina Providencia cancer hospital chapel where Romero was martyred

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Base communities - a pastoral approach that works

Today at a meeting of more than 70 catechists in the Dulce Nombre parish, Padre Efraín talked about ways to involve the more than 600 people being confirmed into new or existing base communities. There could be as many as 40 new base communities in the parish in the coming year!

I have written several times about base communities here in the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, but perhaps some of my readers don’t know how they function here.

Base church communities – Comunidades ecclesiales de base – have played important roles in the Latin American church, starting in the late 1960s. Yet in the last two decades the number and strength of base communities have decreased, in part because of the growing conservatism of the institutional church in Latin America. The flight of many rural poor to the cities and the increasing role of movements (such as Opus Dei and the Neocatechumenal Way) in the church have also affected the base communities.

Yet here in the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, in western Honduras, there are more than 4,000 base communities (perhaps as many as 7,000) in the 43 parishes. This is because of a concerted effort of the diocese to promote them since 1992.

Lay involvement in the church is not new in Honduras.  In the mid-1960s the diocese of Choluteca began to train and commission men as delegates of the Word to lead services in the remote villages. That movement spread and there are delegates leading celebrations of the Word in a majority of the rural villages. Now they include women as well as men.

The Santa Rosa diocese has gone beyond this with base communities and several pastoral leaders in almost every one of the 1192 villages in the diocese.

The base communities usually meet every week to pray, read the scripture, and study the faith. The communities also have persons dedicated to the three areas of ministry: prophetic, liturgical, and social. Those in the prophetic ministry include religious education teachers, preachers at the Sunday celebrations of the Word, and persons responsible for seeing that the communities flourish. The liturgical ministry includes those who have roles in the Masses and church celebrations, including the choir, the music groups, and readers. The social ministry devotes itself to fund raising activities, care of the church grounds, help for the needy and more.

Each village has a church council which includes one representative of each ministry from each base community. The village sends representatives to the sector meeting, which reports to the zone, and eventually to the parish pastoral council.

It is through the base communities that much of the pastoral formation of people happens. There are religious education classes for the children as well as pre-marriage talks, but most of the faith gets learned and passed on through the base communities.

The base communities are, I believe, a good way for the faith of the community to develop. They bring together people from the neighborhood to pray and work together. They try to help people grow in the faith.

There are limitations.

 Up to this time I don’t think that there has not been a lot of good materials for the communities to use. There is a good booklet devised a few years ago by a team of priests and lay people in the south of the department of Lempira on the liturgy and sacraments. The booklet on Catholic Social Thought that I drafted is being accepted as a good way for the communities to get to know what the church means by social ministry.

I have heard that some priests have given the base communities the diocesan pastoral plan or church documents to study. I have my reservations about these, since the community may lose sight of the importance between their lived faith life in community and concentrate too much on the cognitive aspect of faith. In addition, some of these documents are extremely dense – even for me – and difficult for people, many of whom have little formal education. We desperately need good materials, with a good methodology, for these communities.

Another possible limitation is that in this diocese participation in a base community is often a prerequisite for reception of the sacraments. For example, typically babies are not baptized unless their parents participate in a base community and couples are not married in the church unless they too are in a base community. So the community becomes a hoop to jump through for some people – not a way to deepen faith.

Another possible limitation is that the base communities may be too linked to the hierarchical structure of the church and therefore too dependent on the priest, especially if he is a domineering type.

José Comblin wrote in  Called for Freedom: The Changing Context of Liberation Theology:

The impact on evangelization [of base ecclesial communities - CEBs] was always limited…
First, it has not been possible to overcome clericalism, because CEBs have remained predominantly subordinated to clerical control in their ideology, theology, mentality, structure, and in their everyday activity. Secondly, they continue to have two ideologies: a medieval dogmatic theology and a liberation theology for the social realm. (p. 6)

But base communities are, I believe, extremely important and pastoral work, especially in rural areas, would suffer greatly without them. The base communities evangelize and help make people better disciples and missionaries. I don't know if the people in the countryside would be so articulate and knowledgeable of their faith without them and I doubt that they would live their so well.

The Other

This week I finished two books that help me reflect more deeply and theologically on my experience here in Honduras.

José Comblin,  a Belgian who worked for many years in Brazil and died in March 2011, wrote Called for Freedom: The Changing Context of Liberation Theology, in the mid 1990s. It is not an easy book to read and I don’t agree with all his analysis of the Latin American context, though I was surprised how his insights from more than 15 years ago help understand the situation here in Honduras.

Mary Jo Leddy is a Canadian who has worked for more than 20 years with refugees in Romero House in Toronto. I have read several of her other books and met her when she spoke at the Catholic Campus Ministry Association convention in Austin, Texas, several years ago. I found her recent book,  The Other Face of God: When the Stranger Calls Us Home, challenging and helpful – and I devoured it in a few days.

Both are influenced by the French Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas and speak of the other.

Comblin writes on pages 41-42:
To love means first to recognize the other, the one who is different…
To recognize the other is to accept his or her existence, to accept his or her right ot live, act, take initiatives, occupy space, and move ahead. Recognizing the other means being willing to be inconvenienced by him or her, precisely because of the difference…. Loving is always sharing, and hence giving, letting go of privileges, or of exclusion—not merely acknowledging the other’s right to be different, by helping him or her to be different, that is, to grow in his or her own personality.

But this is not a one way street. As Comblin notes, on page 43:
Freedom lies in the ability to open a dialogue among equals with others….
By breaking down barriers, by going out to meet the outcast, the “poor” who are outcast precisely because they are poor, the human being is awakened to freedom. He or she opens the prospects for the other, opens for him or her the chance to be free. One who is treated as free awakens to freedom.
…To serve one another mutually is to help one another be free.

Mary Jo Leddy makes this concrete, sharing stories of the refugees she has lived with.  As she write, “I believe that the blessing bestowed by the stranger reveals the outline of a  spirituality that is crucial for us in this time, in this place that we call home.” But the strangers, the refugees, whose stories she shares are not nameless but are Teresita, Hidat, Gugan, Osman, Clara, and others – persons with lives and names.

And so she writes:
So much depends on whether we see another person face to face. So much depends on whether we know the name of the other person. As we see each other and learn each other's names, there is the possibility of becoming neighbors. There is even the possibility of love and perhaps hatred. However, indifference is no longer possible. The greatest problem in the world today is not so much hatred of those who are different from us but the vast ocean of indifference between us. (p. 77)
The spirituality that she seeks to inspire is "the discovery of Christ as our spirits are awakened by something or someone entirely other than ourselves." (p. 103)

There is, though, a mutuality in this living, recognizing the other as neighbor.
The Spirit of Christ is born between us as we live together, suffer together, and rejoice together. Christ comes alive when another summons us to become who we really are. We become ourselves for the other.  (p. 101)

For her, our own need can awaken in the other a response that heals even us – calling us home, out of alienation and what she calls the “imperial self” which seeks to make everything like ourselves.
our great need can summon others to be good and responsible.
… In my experience, as we live together with people who are different from ourselves, the possibility of becoming neighbors emerges. The neighbor is neither the same as we are nor totally different. Becoming a neighbor allows for a difference without indifference. To acknowledge that we as a church are in need of a Good Samaritan is to recognize that we can find our way forward to our true selves if we listen to the call of the stranger. The stranger may be a person, another culture, another religion, a different social class. The stranger is the one who calls us home.  (pp. 119-120)

As I continue to work here among the poor, these insights help me clarify my role and also help me to see why I feel such joy here. I am being healed by the people I am with – Gloria, Ovidio, Marco Tulio, Narda, Josué, and many others (even ones who grate on my nerves).

And it brings me great joy.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A short break

I’ve been looking for a chance to take a break at the beach.  I’ve only been to the Caribbean once in my five years here – last September when I facilitated a retreat for the Finca del Niño volunteers.

I was going to Santa Bárbara for a workshop last Friday and Saturday and decided to go to Tela for two days, only a little over three hours by car from Santa Bárbara.

I stayed in a middle priced hotel, walked a bit in town, took a trip to Punta Sal and the Kawas National Park, and ate two Italian meals! (The second one was superb - penne pasta with garlic and pepperoncini sauce.)

It was an all too short vacation but worth it.

Saturday night I went to Mass in the local church – San Antonio. 

Carved image of Mary in the church door.

As I walked in, a young man was picking a melody on an acoustic guitar. I think it was “Nearer, my God, to Thee.” He played a few more melodies before Mass and then led the singing during the Mass.  It was so calming to hear his gentle playing and his mellow voice -  a big difference from the loud electrified music I hear at most Masses here.  The first blessing.

A view up the river by a bridge near the church.

On Sunday I went on a tour across the bay from Tela to Punta Sal, which included a walk in the Jeanette Kawas National Park. The trip was well worth it. In the park there were howler moneys and other wildlife. The guide – who delightfully insisted on giving me a hard time - showed us an original banana tree and split open one of the bananas, complete with large seeds; he also showed us a avocado which smelled of anise [aka, licorice].

Can you see the howler monkeys?

We had several chances to swim in the bay and even snorkel in a coral reef.. The water was clear and quite salty.  How I miss swimming – especially swimming in the ocean.  (As a kid Mom, Dad, and I went to Wildwood on the Jersey shore for a week.)

On the trip back we all got soaked in the boat but arrived safe and sound.

A great chance to be in nature and in the ocean. A second blessing.

After an Italian dinner on Sunday night, I was walking back to the hotel when a young guy stopped me. “Juancito?” he asked. It was Josué, a teenager who I had known in Dulce Nombre who is now working in Tela.  It’s almost as if I can’t go anywhere in Honduras without running into someone I know. A third blessing.

I left mid-morning on Monday and got back to Santa Rosa de Copán in about five hours, without any car problems! A fourth blessing.

It was good to get away – especially for someone like me who is too much of a workaholic. I need to let myself rest and enjoy time apart. I think I’ll have to take another trip to Tela in the coming year.

A side note: In Tela I began to read Mary Jo Leddy’s  The Other Face of God: When the Stranger Calls US Home. I finished it today.  What a great challenging and inspiring work. I highly recommend it. I should write a review.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Lights in Santa Bárbara, Honduras

Santa Bárbara, is the capital of the department of Santa Bárbara. I went to accompany a meeting of an environmental group there which the Democracy and Participation Project of Caritas is helping.

The group is called Movimiento Más – Movimiento Ambientalista Santabarbarense: the Santa Barbara Environmental Movement.

Santa Barbara has available a large number of concessions for mines (gold, antinomy, and more) as well as for use of rivers, and for damming of rivers. In addition, the Honduras Congress is near to passing a new mining law – which many consider worse than the current law.

This group is trying to reverse these trends and so they discussed issues of mining, climatic change, and use of water resources. In particular they are concerned about several proposed dams which would displace several communities and their lands and, in one case, a Lenca archeological site.

The president of the association had her two children with her. I was impressed by the commitment of the children. The eight-year old had raised 5,000 lempira ($250) for a school in Los Rigores, El Aguán, a community that has been displaced with its buildings destroyed several times. The struggle continues even among the young.

Before the meeting began, Simon took me to see a group working with disabled - Abriendo Puertas - Opening Doors. The director Reynaldo, who helped found the group in 2002, is himself blind. The association was founded by Catholic Church members but is now an independent government-recognized association, though Reynaldo considers it as an apostolate. Rosa, who lost one leg, is the president of the association and accompanied my visit.

Reynaldo and Rosa are full of life, with hope in the face of massive difficulties. Their “disabilities” do not keep them back. Their energy and work are impressive.

The association works in seven municipalities, dealing with a problem that is difficult in the US. Imagine how hard it is to be blind, lacking a limb, with other physical or mental disabilities in a poor country like Honduras.

The group functions with volunteers. They have a small office and space for a classroom for children – which they rent at a reduced cost from the Catholic Church.

They have about 35 children where they offer early-child stimulation as well as several therapies, including speech therapy. They offer also occupational therapy for older young people. But according to a recent census there are 400 children with disabilities in the municipality of Santa Barbara and 7,290, between 6 and 12 years old, in the 28 municipalities of the department of Santa Bárbara.

They also have a workshop for printing t-shirt designs but face a lot of competition – and also don’t have an embroidery machine. They had a carpentry workshop but they lack a place to set it up.

They have recently obtained some land and hope to begin. They hope to build there, having a five stage plan. The first stage alone will cost about $200,000.

I went back in the afternoon and watched as two volunteers (one was the daughter of Rosa) work with a little girl with Downs syndrome who was accompanied by her father. Their work impressed me – as well as the presence of a father with his daughter. 

Part of the classroom used by Abriendo Puertas

Here is a place with vision. They have asked for some government assistance, including one teacher who was promise. But…

There two groups are those who offer signs of life and hope, though the efforts are small. They face great odds, but still struggle forward.

Monday, August 06, 2012

The protests on the walls

In much of the world, people use the walls of public places to get their position out in the open.

Sadly they may also reveal some of the deep divisions within a society, especially if they are accusatory and defaming.

In December, 2012, the night before Monseñor Darwin Andino was installed as bishop of Santa Rosa de Copán, replacing Monseñor Luis Alfonso Santos, several walls supported slogans which – to all who understand the situation – were subtle, but real, attacks on the ministry of Monseñor Santos who has spoken out forcefully on political matters.

On a wall on the road up to the upper town was this message:

"Catholic Church without politics"

On a wall of the Catholic radio station - in both Spanish and Italian (the latter presumably for the Italian papal delegate who was coming for the installation):

"We don't want politics in the Catholic Church."

Last Sunday, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez of Tegucigalpa was supposed to come to Santa Rosa de Copán to celebrate Mass and then speak at a lunch to raise money for the cathedral rectory.

I was out of town – taking a short vacation on the Caribbean coast, in Tela – and so I wasn’t planning to attend.

The Cardinal cancelled his visit to avoid problems because “insulting messages” were painted on walls in Santa Rosa. Several newspapers claimed the messages were from “supposed followers” of the Resistance, which opposed the coup. Bishop Andino stated. "I do not know who did this but, as always, there are groups who don’t want the church to speak out and for reasons of security he [the Cardinal] abandoned his visit to this region.”

I took a few photos of what I ran across Monday. Some messages may have been blotted out on Sunday.

A few are insulting - and all addressed him as "cardemal" instead of "cardenal" - "mal" meaning evil in Spanish:

The first panel says: "Cardemal, neither forgetting nor pardoning."
The second says: "Cardemal, god of evil"

This is a rather offensive stencil that was popular just after the 2009 coup:  
"Carde-mal Rodriguez, coup supporter."

This one was on the wall of the Catholic radio station,
 just to the left of the one above:
 "Cardemal, the dead and disappeared because of the coup, 
we await you in the beyond."

But several offer some food for thought for all of us - not just the cardinal.

"Cardemal, violence will beget violence."

 "Cardemal, if the church does not serve the poor, it does not serve God."

These last two may be “the words of the prophets” written on the walls – a la Simon and Garfunkel.


The photos in this blog entry are copyrighted and may not be used without the explicit permission of the blogger.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

More contrasts in Honduras

Early Sunday morning I set out for Dulce Nombre to meet Padre Efraín.

As I drove out of Santa Rosa de Copán, I saw a BMW car full into a gas station. Shortly after I was passed by a Hummer. I was even more surprised when the Hummer took a left at the turn off to Dulce Nombre. I followed him for a while until I took the road to the center of town.

I am often surprised at the big, expensive cars here in Santa Rosa – especially lots of big new four wheel drive Toyotas and Nissans and any number of SUVs. I wonder where the money comes from. (Some suggest money laundering from drug-trafficking, though I think many are owned by people who make money from coffee and from construction.)

After meeting Padre Efraín in Dulce Nombre, he drove us out to the village of San José El Bosque for Mass.

At the Mass there were 35 baptisms and about 8 first communions. 

It was a nice celebration that squeezed several hundred people into a small church, though the singers could use a little help.

After Mass the people provided a meal for Padre Efraín, me, and René (who’s hoping to enter the major seminary next year). Of course, it was chicken and I declined.

(Being a vegetarian, declining meat so that the people here can eat it instead of me, is a little strange for them. But when I explain it in terms of solidarity – and not taking protein from the poor – it makes some sense to them.)

The town is poor, the road terrible, but the people welcomed us.

In fact, I got volunteered to go back there on August 26 to facilitate a confirmation retreat for the 65 or more that will be confirmed in September from this sector.

I’m looking forward and hoping the road is passable.


As we left, Padre Efraín and I talked with some of the leaders about finding ways to expand the church to accommodate more people from the sector, to use for special Masses and meeting.  A few hundred dollars for cinder blocks, tin roofing,  and cement would supplement the work and materials provided by the people.