Thursday, March 02, 2017

The past few weeks - in words and pictures

The last half of February kept me busy. I haven’t written much or shared photos here. The rainy season seems to be over and we've had lots of hot sunny days - and some of the trees are blooming.

The parish had a meeting of coordinators of Social Ministry in the communities in mid-February. Sad to say the turnout was poor – only 15 from the more than 45 communities. But it’s the beginning of an effort to revive this ministry in the parish.

We also had an assembly of catechists which was also not very well attended. Only 55 of the more than 150 catechists showed up. We’ll have workshops in the four zones of the parish in March. We’ll see how this turns out.

It might be that there are still a number of communities where they are still harvesting coffee. We'll see.

I also had several Celebrations of the Word for anniversaries of those who had died. In some strange, unknown way, I find these celebrations life-giving for me. I find myself able to share words of consolation and hope, without overlooking the pain and, at times, the violence. The message of the crucified but risen Lord seems to be able to get through.

I also am trying to visit communities without the Eucharist for Sunday Celebrations of the Word with Communion, about twice a month.

At one community, San Antonio El Alto, I arrived in time for the end of the First Communion catechism class.

The week before I had stopped at one of the Maestro en Casa alternative school programs after the Celebration in Joyas Galanas.

Last Monday we had the last coffee harvesting at the parish’s coffee lands. I got up early and went to pick up folks. This view greeted me as I crossed through a pass.

The harvest went fairly quickly, with just about 28 workers since we picked all the remaining coffee cherries. After this, we separated out the green from the ripe.

A few weeks ago I had the chance to meet with the coffee association in El Zapote de Santa Rosa which is exporting coffee to the US by way of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ames. They were meeting with a lawyer from Caritas which is helping them get full legal status. (Contact St. Thomas to buy some.)

Tomorrow and Saturday we have the training for the candidates to become extraordinary ministers of Communion – which is a two year process here, partly because they lead Word and Communion services in their villages and bring Communion to the sick in their homes.

Next Sunday we will have the rite of election of catechumens in the main church in Dulce Nombre. I expect about 45, mostly young people.

Next Monday to Friday I’ll be attending the diocesan retreat for clergy (since deacons are clergy). I’ll miss part of time a medical brigade from AMIGA will be in the area, serving at the local clinic.

In the middle of this, life goes on. I even had time today to bake bread, while preparing for upcoming events.

And they are beginning to pave the road here in Plan Grande from the church up to the main road, but first up to the mayor’s home.

This means I have to use alternative roads to get to my house – including one through cow pastures and another up and down really steep hills. 

Thank God for four-wheel drive.

And thank God for the continuing gift of being able to serve here.


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