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.