Friday, December 13, 2013

Pastoral Visit to Island of Utila

Franciscan School Retreat

Formation Week in Comayagua

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Eucharistic Retreat at Catholic University of Honduras, Nov 16-17, 2013

Mini Mission to Island of Guanaja, Nov 7-11, 2013

Pan de Vida for Confirmation Candidates in La Ceiba, Nov 2-3, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fr. Herald Speaks at AVSI's Charity is Freedom event in New York

Fr. Herald introducing the theme of "Charity" on October 4 at Holy Family Church in Manhattan.

Here's the text of Fr. Herald's talk:

Friday, October 11, 2013

FMO Supports Efforts to Assist Orphans and Lepers in Zimbabwe

Formation Weekend in Comayagua, Sept 26-30

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Charity is Freedom - Oct 4, 2013, Manhattan

If you're in the NYC area, please join Fr. Herald and friends at the "Charity is Freedom" event on October 4th at 7:00 pm at Holy Family Church on 47th Street in Manhattan. Can't think of a better way to celebrate the first feast of Our Holy Father St. Francis in the pontificate of Pope Francis, the pontiff of charity!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Independence Day Weekend (Sep 14-15) in La Ceiba

Thursday, September 12, 2013

FMO Now Posting on Facebook!

Franciscan Mission Outreach is now posting on its own Facebook page. You do not need to have a Facebook account to visit and view this page. Please check it out! If you do have a Facebook profile, please "Like" our page and share it with your contacts. Just click on the button above or follow the link below. Thanks and see you on Facebook!

FMO September 2013 Emissary Activity Report

Evangelization Program at Instituto Maria Regina, La Ceiba

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Monsignor Thomas Oliha: "Mercy House: One of the Holiest Places in the Diocese of Torit"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Holy Hours for Men, San Judas Tadeo, La Ceiba

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Youth Retreat, Santa Rosa de Lima Parish, Masica

Friday, September 6, 2013

Missioners of Christ Roger Blanco & Eric Crowley in La Ceiba

Thursday, August 29, 2013

San Marcos, Santa Rosa de Lima Parish, Masica

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Daughter of Mary of Nazareth Mission Trip to La Ceiba, Aug 16 - 25, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Missioners of Christ End of Summer Retreat, August 9 - 12

Thursday, June 20, 2013

New Parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, La Ceiba

Young people gathered for the youth encounter at the new Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish (above and below).

June is the "Month of Youth" in Honduras, so there are many church activities related to young people at this time of the year. It's been a blessing for me to be a part of a number of them. This past Saturday, as part of the "Week of Evangelization" and preparation for the establishment of the new parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Inmaculado Corazón de María), there was a youth encounter for the young people of the parish and other nearby communities. It was organized together with the Catholic University Outreach (MCU: Misión Católica Universitaria), and was attended by about 75 youth. The encounter included songs, skits and talks on the themes for the Month of Youth based on the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. The evening ended with a very beautiful Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration.

A skit about Jesus rescuing a young man trapped by the seven deadly sins.

A group photo in the church after the Holy Hour.

The next day the parish church was packed, with several hundred more people participating from outsisde, for the formal establishment of the parish and the installation of the new pastor, Fr. René Flores Pineda. It was an extremely beautiful and joyful celebration, and a sign of the lively faith and spiritual growth taking place in the new Diocese of La Ceiba. A few highlights from the inauguration Mass are included in the video above.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Feast of St. Anthony of Padua in Tegucigalpita

San Antonio de Padua chapel, Tegucigalpita, Atlantida, Honduras.
On Thursday, June 13th, I traveled with Fr. Vicente Gomez to the outlying community of Tegucigalpita for their patronal feast of St. Anthony of Padua. Fr. Vicente is a priest of the Diocese of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, who recently came to serve in La Ceiba. He has been entrusted with a sector of the cathedral parish that includes Tegucigalpita. When I'm in La Ceiba, I will be assisting Fr. Vicente is the poorer communities of his sector in the outskirts of La Ceiba. We had both been wanting to visit Tegucigalpita for some time, but due to the other pastoral demands of the parish and poor road conditions, we had been unable to until now.

Some members of the San Antonio community.
Manuel Solis, a lay leader from the nearby community of San Judas (St. Jude), and two religious sisters also stationed there, have been visiting Tegucigalpita regularly to teach catechism to the children and lead Sunday celebrations of the Word of God. They worked hard to animate the community and prepare them for their patronal feast day. Despite heavy rains, there was a great turnout for the celebration.

Fr. Vicente Gomez presenting a newborn during the celebration.
Fr. Vicente celebrated the Mass (I had already celebrated earlier that morning), and - as is the custom - he presented two newborn children to the Lord and the community at the time of the offertory. A music ministry team of two brothers led us in song. Their extended family is the backbone of this little Catholic community.

The two brothers who comprise the music ministry.

Two Messengers of the Immaculate (religious sisters),
who teach catechism in the community.
We enjoyed some delicious arros con pollo (rice and chicken) after Mass; it was a really joyful celebration for all who participated. After this visit we are hoping now to make more regular trips for Sunday Mass when possible.

Group photo at the end of the celebration.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Corpus Christi Sunday & Youth Encounter in La Ceiba

The Cathedral Parish of San Isidro celebrated Corpus Christi Sunday with a Procession with the Blessed Sacrament through the Streets of La Ceiba, and a special Mass in the Cathedral with the bishop, followed by a Holy Hour in union with the many Catholics throughout the world who participated in the joint Eucharistic Adoration called for by Pope Francis. We put together a short video with photos and clips from the day. Hope you enjoy it!

Corpus Christi Sunday was also the occasion for a parish-wide youth encounter marking the beginning of June, the Month of Youth. The youth participated in the procession and Mass, and wore white shirts with gold sashes in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. Three lay Missioners of Christ came to help with the day, including musician Wilmer Hernandez. The above video features the song Wilmer wrote for the Year of Faith, "Celebremos la Fe (Let's Celebrate Our Faith)" which won the national competition for the theme song for the Month of Youth. Wilmer received formation in our youth programs in Comayagua and has collaborated extensively in our evangelization efforts. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Four Short Videos of Fr. Herald from Revive Faith

For anyone who's interested, below are four videos produced for Revive Faith, an online Year of Faith initiative of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in conjunction with Corazón Puro and other friends. The full list of Revive Faith videos can be found on the Revive Faith YouTube channel.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Feast of San Isidro Labrador (St. Isidore the Farmer), Patron of La Ceiba

Twin sister altar servers
(the young woman elected "queen" of this
year's festival is located behind and to the right).
Patronal feast days are big celebrations in Latin America, and La Ceiba is no exception. On the evening of May 14, a large number of people braved a rain shower to join the procession with the statue of San Isidro through the streets to the open air altar for the vigil Mass. In addition to the bishop, priests and altar servers were marching bands, the La Ceiba festival queen and her court and hundreds of Catholic High School Students carrying lanterns. It was a very moving public celebration of our faith.

The procession coming from the direction of the coast
and passing in front of the cathedral.
Catholic high school students carried yellow and red lanterns in procession,
and lined both sides of the street as the statue arrived at the open air altar.
Fr. Michael Lenihan celebrates the vigil Mass with hundreds of faithful in attendance.

Of course the celebration was followed by a fireworks display (above), and on the outskirts of the site there were plenty of food vendors and game booths (below).

The following morning, May 15 - the actual feast day of St. Isidore, there was a Mass in the cathedral with all of the priests and religious of the diocese, the mayor and other officials of the city of La Ceiba, and a full congregation of participants. During the offertory procession, traditional symbols of St. Isidore )also used by the farmers and campesinos= of Honduras were presented: a shovel, hoe, machete, boots, rope and a basket of fruit.

During the celebration, Fr. René Flores Pineda was presented as pastor of the new parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Colonia Sauce, to be formally established on June 16.

Trying to be of service in this new diocese in whatever way I can, I was happy to contribute the photos of the events that appeared in the national Catholic weekly, Fides:

Friday, May 31, 2013

What's Been Happening in Honduras

A home destroyed by the tremors in San Juan Pueblo, Honduras.
I arrived in Honduras in late April for a two-month stay, and have been pretty busy since. The weekends in La Ceiba are very intense in terms of the Mass schedule. The cathedral parish (soon to be subdivided into an additional parish and two sectors) has 16 communities with their own churches and tries to celebrate Sunday Mass in as many of them as possible. Often that means celebrating a Saturday evening vigil Mass and as many as three Masses on Sunday, all in different locations. And none of these Masses are "rushed!" They are all well prepared musically and otherwise and last for approximately an hour and a half each. In a country where most people do not have cars, celebrations in nearby chapels are crucial to helping people maintain, deepen and live their faith. In addition to Sunday Masses there are weekday Masses in different locations and frequent requests for Confession, Anointing of the Sick and funeral celebrations.

Temporary shelter for a family affected by the tremors.
In late April into May there were a series of tremors in the nearby town of San Juan Pueblo, part of the Diocese of La Ceiba. The tremors destroyed the homes of a number of families and caused people to sleep in makeshift shelters outside for reasons of safety. I was blessed to accompany Bishop Michael Lenihan of La Ceiba and Fr. Rene Flores to visit some of those affected by the tremors and distribute some food items.

Bishop Michael Lenihan distributing food to those affected by the tremors.
In the subdivision of the cathedral parish, I will be focusing my pastoral efforts on some of the outlying and marginal communities, like San Judas Tadeo (St. Jude Thaddeus), pictured below. In addition to celebrating Mass, I'm working with a native community of Honduran religious sisters, the Mensajeras de la Inmaculada (Messengers of the Immaculate), who serve in the parish, on an effort to restore and reopen a women's training center located immediately behind the church building.

San Judas Tadeo (St. Jude Thaddeus) Church, La Ceiba, Honduras.
We're working with The Daughters of Mary of Nazareth, a new religious community being formed in the Archdiocese of Boston that plans to come on a mission trip to La Ceiba later this year, to raise funds and collect materials to relaunch the Santa Inés Women's Training Center.

Santa Inés (St. Agnes) Women´s Training Center.

San José Esposo (St. Joseph the Husband) Church (above and below),
one of the 16 neighborhood communities in the cathedral parish in La Ceiba.

Church of the Merced, La Ceiba.
We've also begun some youth outreach initiatives in La Ceiba that included a Holy Hour with the youth of La Merced community (above and below) and a parish-wide youth encounter that will take place on Corpus Christi Sunday.

La Merced Youth Group.

Corazón Puro Formation Day, Comayagua, Honduras.
In addition to the ongoing efforts in La Ceiba, I've also made two trips to Comayagua to assist the friars there while they were on retreat in April, and to help Missioners of Christ with a formation day for the Corazón Puro youth chastity outreach (above) that´s being formed there. As much as possible when I'm in Comayagua I also include a visit to the Granja Jesús Nazareth (below) for Sunday Mass and other activities. I'll be returning there again in late June.

Pentecost Sunday Mass at the Granja Jesús Nazaret, Comayagua, Honduras.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Holy Week in La Ceiba


Being in La Ceiba for "Jesús en La Playa," enabled us to participate in the various celebrations of Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday (above and below), and including the Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday Mass and Adoration, Good Friday early morning Stations of the Cross, afternoon Liturgy and evening Santo Entierro, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night. I presided at celebrations in two of the neighborhood communities (really small sub-parishes) connected to the cathedral: San José Esposo (St. Joseph the Husband) and Inmaculado Corazón de María (Immaculate Heart of Mary).

Bishop Michael Lenihan blesses the palm at the beginning of Mass in front of the cathedral (above),
and leads the procession through the streets (below).

The banner reads: "Holy Week: A Time of Grace and Conversion
A Pascal Parish that Lives and Celebrates Its Faith with Joy
St. Isidore Parish, Diocese of La Ceiba."

A Garifuna (indigenous Honduran-African) woman brings up a copy of
the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the offertory.

Bishop Michael blesses the Missioners of Christ who will be helping with
"Jesús en la Playa" evangelization outreach.


Fr. Herald washing feet at the Holy Thursday celebration
 in San José Esposo (St. Joseph the Spouse) community in La Ceiba.


Early morning Good Friday Stations of the Cross through the streets in San José Esposo community.

The Eighth Station: Jesus Comforts the Women of Jerusalem.

Families carry the cross together during the Stations (above and below).

Fr. Herald preaching during the Good Friday liturgy in Immaculate Heart of Mary community.

Statues carried in the "Santo Entierro (Holy Burial)" procession, Good Friday evening
(above and below).

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jesús en la Playa [Jesus at the Beach]

The "Jesús en la Playa" Team with Bishop Michael Lenihan in front of St. Isidore Cathedral, La Ceiba.
This past Holy Week, Franciscan Mission Outreach - in collaboration with the  Diocese of La Ceiba and Missioners of Christ, carried out a unique and creative evangelization effort called "Jesús en la Playa (Jesus at the Beach)" to reach out to the many tourists who come to the coast at this time of year. The idea began with Fr. Rene Flores, chancellor of the diocese, and builds on earlier efforts to distribute the schedule of Holy Week celebrations to hotels and other tourist centers. Fr. Rene was able to obtain from the tourism office of the municipal government space for a booth along the promenade of one of the main beaches. That served as our base.

Our site on the boardwalk. Wilmer Hernandez is leading songs.

Our next door neighbors, diocesan Radio San Isidro.

Our "competition:" Tigo mobile phones (above) and Coca Cola (below - Pepsi was there, too). 

Children watching a Bible video with Bishop Michael Lenihan.
We engaged in a number of different activities designed to communicate the message of the Gospel and the presence of the Church to the many people who passed by. These included music and songs, skits, videos, activities for children, times of prayer (the Rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet), distributing small flyers and personal interaction. Our desire was to be a positive and encouraging reminder of the meaning of Holy Week, and a bit of a "door" through which people could enter into that experience.

A large crowd gathers for a skit featuring Jamie (foreground) and Diego (as Jesus).

A dramatic presentation of the Last Supper and Passion.

Missioners of Christ Margarita and Eric.

Missioners of Christ leader Carol Restaine, listens attentively to a passerby. 

Roger speaking with a visitor.

There were many child street vendors who stopped at our booth, including the little boy selling cotton candy (above), and the boy selling gum (in the basket) who paused to color a Bible scene (below).

One of the many colorful sights at the beach.

Two "live art (arte en acción)" students from the capital city of Tegucigalpa
who used our booth to store their supplies. 

A little boy picked up my camera and used it to take this shot of me trying to work out some logistical details in the loud surroundings of the boardwalk.

Sunset over the ocean.
"Jesús en la Playa" was extremely well received, and we are hopeful of carrying out an even more developed outreach for Holy Week 2014.

The team and I after the "Santo Entierro (Holy Burial) on Good Friday evening.