Accompanying the people in their celebrations is one of the joys of my ministry here in Honduras.
Last Friday, the feast of the Virgin of Suyapa, the patroness of Honduras, I went out to Mass in the village of Plan Grande for their feast day.
The church was decorated for the feast with a shrine to Our Lady of Suyapa.
Father Henry came a little after 9 am and heard confessions until Mass began at 10 am. The Mass was long – more than 2 hours, mostly because there were 26 baptisms. almost all of young people between 7and 13 except for three babies. (In our diocese children under six can only be baptized if both parents are active in base communities. Children older than 7 can request to be baptized. So these were children who voluntarily sought to be baptized.)
The children were well-prepared by the local catechists, though I think they might have been a little surprised by the way Padre Henry does baptism, even though I shared with them some of the photos of baptisms in December in Concepción.
During the rite of baptism I was particularly moved when the children were signed with the cross by their parents and godparents. It was moving to see the care with which the adults signed the young people, giving them a sense of their coming incorporation into the Church, the Body of Christ.
Father Henry baptized the young people with lots of water – one pan of water for each person of the Trinity! Some found it a joy, others endured it, but it should have been very clear to them that this was a very important event.
I had to leave early to pick up someone from Shelby County, Iowa, who is studying Spanish in Copán Ruinas.
I gave Tim a little sense of the life here – including backing my car up and putting one back wheel into a ditch. As usual the local people helped me get the car out of the ditch with Father Henry’s car pulling and about five guys lifting the car onto a wooden plank. Boy, am I ever grateful to these generous people. Then I had to back up several times to get up a slippery hill.
On Sunday, I took Tim put to a Celebration of the Word in Plan Grande. I brought the Eucharist from the main church so they could have communion.
After the celebration Fernando showed Tim his coffee farm – about 2 manzanas (3 acres) and his wife prepared a soup for us. Fernando also talked about his 4 manzanas of sugar cane and the production process. He wants me to come out later and see the whole process.
|Fernando pruning with Tim watching|
Fernando is one of those hard-working campesinos who has been able to do a lot and tried to have a better life for this family. He has sent several of his children to school outside the village; two boys are studying weekends in Santa Rosa. But his family’s life has been hard – three times the sugar-processing structures have burnt down; about a year and a half ago a teenage daughter died; and now one of his sons limps because of a spur on his heel which is not responding to treatment.
After lunch, I took Tim to Piedras Coloradas, a small poor community where I’m trying to help them think about ways to develop their community. I had originally hoped for a short meeting but I arrived late and I had to get Tim to Copán Ruinas. But we did have time to visit a bit.
The first joy was to see Elder, the four month old child of Julio Alonso and Santos. He’s quite the cute kid and allowed me to hold him.
The community now has electricity and so about fifteen people were squeezed into Julio Alonso’s house to watch a movie on a DVD. (Julio explained he bought the TV/DVD so that he could control what his kids watch.)
In the room I saw more than eight bags of corn in the room. Julio Alonso told me he had to buy corn this year for about $35 a two hundred pound bag, because the wind had blown over his corn field and he lost the crop.
Julio Alonso and Vitalino talked a bit more about the needs of the village. Then I left, not without stopping to talk with Julio Alonso’s mother about a single mother (her daughter) who is pregnant, abandoned by the guy who got her pregnant. I talked about he need for her to get sufficient nutrition and pre-natal care. She seems to be getting some, but who knows how things will be after she give birth.
I’ll get back to the village in a few weeks and spend more time talking with them. Besides the usual problems of poverty and food insecurity, there are problems of insufficient water and lack of latrines in at least five of the eighteen houses of the community.
These visits remind me of the great hospitality of the people in the parish as well as the precariousness of their lives. That’s why I stay here.