A Lenten REFLECTION from Jean Schmitz after the recent visit to our Partner Parishes in El Salvador.
Our Brothers and Sisters in El Salvador
As we continue our Lenten journey I think of the looks of joy and excitement the youth had on their faces in Soyapango, many active in the table tennis projects. Young and old talked about how this project has helped them as a family and/or personally, to set goals and strive to achieve those goals. They talked about the safety they felt, and community they achieved, thru this project. They couldn’t stop thanking us, the St Raphael St Patrick parishioners, for our support.
There is such power in just listening. Just being able to acknowledge persons of another country and culture, and listen to their story. This is a lot of what we did, and so visible in Carmen Hernandez and Mary Halfhill, as they listened to friend, Bartola. Words overflow in gratitude and blessings.
Partner Parish 1996–Present
Our partner parish relationship began in 1996 when St. Raphael Cathedral parishioners developed a mission statement and began to support four Dubuque Franciscan sisters who were working in El Salvador.
This relationships was something new – to enter into an ongoing relationship with a faith community in another country is challenging.
The United States Bishops encourage parishes to be neighbors to our sisters and brothers all over the world. Currently 55 countries receive the benefits of over 1,400 U.S. parishes engaged in partner parish relationships.
Cathedral parishioners who have gone to El Salvador say that they receive so much more than they believed they were sent to give. Salvadorans have so much to teach us – their organizational skills, their models of adult faith formation, their small faith sharing groups, their willingness to give of their time in the parishes, and the wise leadership of their lay volunteers – is simply amazing.
Our trips to El Salvador now include learning and supporting several ministries with Father Joaquin as well as with Father Mario Diaz – the newest pastor in Tenancingo.
Over the years we have developed true friendship with the people of the parishes in El Salvador and that is a great privilege and blessing for us all. Our brothers and sisters in El Salvador help us realize our full potential as a parish and as individuals. We are blessed to call them our neighbors.
Pictures from 2017 trip to El Salvador