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: