Monday, October 11, 2021

Masses, marriages, meetings, and more

The pastor is taking a nuch-needed short vacation (before I head to Ames, Iowa, on October 21, for a week at our sister parish.) So, I have a few things to do.


First of all, the pastor asked me to be available for what might happen as well as to serve at several places each weekend. Last night I had a Celebration of the Word with Communion in Dolores, Copán, and today, I had three in Concepción, Dulce Nombre, and San Agustín, Copán. Next weekend I’ll probably only have three celebrations. 

A priest will probably come from Santa Rosa for the Sunday night Masses, but otherwise we'll have Celebrations of the Word with Communion.


Last Wednesday was busy – and a bit stressful. For several years, a group of sisters in Tegucigalpa, las Hijas de María, have run what we might call boarding schools, for poor boys and girls from the countryside, to study for five years – completely free.

Though they have several hundred in each of the schools (one for boys, one for girls), there is a selection process, including examinations and interviews of the students with their parents or guardians. In the past, the sisters have gone out to various parishes, but this year it was all done virtually.

The pastor asked me to arrange the testing and interviews on Wednesday, the day the sisters had set. But I was still trying to figure out what to do while the kids were taking the exam – all 25 of them. I had to figure out how to arrange the interviews by Zoom.

Thanks be to God, the internet was working and I had brought my tablet as well as my computer and so we could have two interview sites (one for the 8 males and the other for the 17 girls).

It was stressful, since I had no idea exactly what I was supposed to be doing – and there were a few computer glitches.

I’m glad I had looked ahead and brought my printer/scanner so that I could scan the papers needed to be sent to the sisters. Otherwise, it would have been a near disaster. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about pulling out my hair – since there is so little of it. 

Thursday, I had the last of six meetings in various sectors of the parish to help people think through how to respond to any natural disasters. 

Last year, two hurricanes in November seriously affected a number of towns. The people responded fairly well in many places, but it was all unplanned. So, we decided to help the people look ahead and get organized in case of future difficulties.

Over 120 people participated in the sessions, but I was disappointed that some communities who had major problems last year didn’t participate.

But all least four the sessions were, I believe, very good. I started asking people what they had experienced last year and what they had done. Several times I was pleasantly surprised by what they did – without planning. In one community, forty persons gathered to help a family move from their home which suffered from the rain and the landslides. Getting forty people together to help is quite an accomplishment.

I shared some ideas and organizing tools with them to help analyze the risks and possible responses, as well as to begin to organize. Some folks are really enthusiastic – knowing that it might not be needed this year, but that it is good to think about how they can respond when there are serious needs in the communities. (It’s also a good way to help them see their capabilities and to wean them from dependency on politicians who use aid to control the people.)


I have mentioned in several blogs posts how I am involved in the final interviews for couples seeking to be married. I had one this Friday which was a blessing. 

I don’t serve as the church’s witness at many weddings, but this Saturday the pastor delegated me to be at a wedding, since he expected to be on vacation.

The wedding was at the main church in Dulce Nombre, even though the couple is from a distant aldea. There were less than thirty in attendance but it was such a joy to be with them. The couple had lived together for several years but decided to get married. Their two little sons had a part in the wedding.


One tradition here is the presentation of babies at Masses or celebrations when the baby is forty days old. (Think of the biblical story of the presentation of Jesus in the temple.)

In our parish, the baby is brought forward after the prayer after Communion; a prayer is offered, the baby and mother (and father, if he’s there) are blessed. This Sunday I had one at each of the celebrations.

I also noted at the 7:00 am celebration today at least three little babies in the congregation – two held by their fathers. I knew one couple (who had recently been married) and went to see their baby – which was so tiny, even though it was four months old. The baby had been born prematurely (1 pound, 4 ounces at seven months), but was slowly growing, now weighing almost four pounds. I was reminded once again of the fragility of life here. 


Friday afternoon I went out to El Zapote and spent time with one of the members of the coffee association that is exporting coffee to Ames, Iowa. I wrote about this in an earlier post. I left with mandarins that he had picked from tress in his coffee fields.
Adding these to oranges, bananas, and avocados that I had been given recently, as well as tomatoes I’m buying from a local grower, I am eating a little more locally than before.


I returned from Saturday’s wedding and saw a group, mostly young people, working on a shelter near the church in Plan Grande.

An older man, a little mentally unstable, who is Nicaraguan, lives there. He may have been in the Nicaraguan army and probably suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress, since, every once in a while, he begins shouting loudly, as if yelling at troops. He wanders about the village, virtually harmless to himself and others; people give him food and drink. The place where he has been staying was falling down.

The confirmation class decided to help erect a more dignified place for him to sleep. It was great to see the young people helping.


I had planned to spend Monday in Santa Rosa de Copán, getting medical exams (blood and urine tests) as well as a medical appointment.

I’ll do that, but it will be a bit complicated. I’ll go early for the tests and then go out to a rural community for a funeral. Then I’ll drive back to Santa Rosa for the doctor’s appointment. I know the community well and know some of the family; so it is important to be present. I should be able to do this easily.

And I’ll probably take part of Tuesday off to relax and recoup forces.


I spent about four weeks in Iowa in May and June – to renew my Iowa driver’s license, to get my Pfizer vaccinations, and for an eight day retreat. But I decided it would be good to get back when there are more people at St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Ames and, especially, when there are more students.

So, I leave for Iowa on Thursday, October 21, and return early Thursday, October 28. It’s a lightning visit, but it will be good to deepen connections and let the people know what is going on here.


I don’t need to work hard to find things to do, but I hope to make at least two trips outside of Honduras in early 2022.

The first is for the beatifications of four martyrs: Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande, two laypeople killed with Father Rutulio (Manuel Solorzano and Nelson Rutilio Lemus), and Franciscan Father Cosme Spessotto, on late January.

I’m also hoping to get to the East coast to visit friends and family whom I haven’t seen for more than two years.

Next year will mark my seventy-fifth birthday and my fifteenth year here in Honduras. I don’t have anything planned and I hope to be able to continue to do what I am doing. I have NO plans to leave. I’m here until God calls me somewhere else.

I should find some way to celebrate. I’m open to suggestions.

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