Sent from my iPod
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Sent from my iPod
Friday, March 7, 2014
“Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.” – Frederick Buechner
This week we have been responding to a call to serve, a call to engage the world. Each of us has come to Guatemala with different strengths and passions, but we have come together in confronting the experiences and challenges we have faced over the past week.
On Tuesday night, we watched a documentary about Father Greg Schaffer, the man who gave life to San Lucas Toliman through his spirit, compassion, and loving work. Prior to leaving Minnesota, he was happily serving as a religion teacher and priest, ready to live out his life in this role. However, he was called to do more. In 1962, Father Greg accepted a position in a mission church in San Lucas. Over the course of fifty years, Father Greg gave his life to the San Lucas Mission. Alongside the Guatemalan people and other North American missionaries, he helped transform San Lucas from a town without electricity, running water, adequate homes, healthcare, and education into a dignified community. When Father Greg died on May 24, 2012, he left behind a legacy that brought San Lucas and surrounding communities dignified work, homes, healthcare, education, hope for a better future, and much more.
Seeing how much one humble and loving man impacted a community, and an entire country, was absolutely heartrending. Father Greg’s story helped me to remember that we all have the power to change the world. Father Greg never imagined the impact he would have on San Lucas, or the impact the Guatemalan people would have on him. He simply came to San Lucas and responded to what the Guatemalan people needed. In the process, the Guatemalan people won his heart, and he in turn gave all of himself to the people. We are all called to serve others, and accepting that call, that vocation, is critical. Serving others can take many forms, and no single form of service is the “right” way. However, any time you can share joy and love with others, you are sharing a part of yourself.
It has been an absolute pleasure to accompany this incredible group of students along with Father Kesicki. It has filled my heart with joy to serve in and be transformed by Guatemala again, and to watch as a fresh group of students has confronted the difficulties of service, social justice, and solidarity. I have seen everyone share pieces of themselves as they have opened their hearts and minds to the San Lucas Mission and to the Guatemalan people. This week has certainly transformed our entire group in the bonds we have made with each other and with the Guatemalan people, in the memories we have shared, and in the commitment we feel to continuing to remember and to serve San Lucas and Guatemala as we return to our “normal” lives, changed forever.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
“Rend your hearts, not your garments” (Joel 2:13)
These words from the prophet Joel of the Old Testament are part of the first reading from the Mass for Ash Wednesday. The words of the prophet introduce us all to the Lenten journey of conversion by challenging us to accept the invitation to a real conversion of the heart. We can only be changed from within, when our attitude shifts from self-focus to focus on God and our neighbor. Our group participated in the parish Mass yesterday evening in a packed church. Some of the young women of our group had gone to the store sponsored by the women’s cooperative of the San Lucas Mission to buy traditional Guatemalan clothing and were excited to wear them that night for Mass. This excitement did not come from a need to stand out with style, but, rather, from a sense of being a part of the local family who has welcomed us with such joy and hospitality. This simple action on the part of our students is a concrete expression of the Lenten conversion that has been taking place in all of us this week. As we reflect each night on our experiences, it is so beautiful to see the true transformation of hearts that has been taking place over the last 5 days. Our eyes, our ears and, most of all, our hearts have been opened to a genuine experience of Solidarity—we have been treated by our Guatemalan hosts as brothers and sisters, as neighbors and friends.
Our group will be working on the re-forestation project this morning and, later in the day, will have the experience of buying food in the market for a local family. Yesterday and the day before, we assisted in the construction of stoves. The builders were very patient and encouraging, giving us a share in the tasks such as laying bricks, mixing cement and laying cement.
I have been “put to work” as well by the local pastor celebrating Mass in the parish church and in one of the mission churches. Our seminarian, Jerry Stumpff, came with me to the mission church of San Andres yesterday afternoon to assist with Mass. I am sure he will have several stories to tell of the very rich experience of faith that we encountered there.
Patrice and Katelyn continue to show their capacity to lead as they have done all year in preparing for this trip. Raven, Beth and Rachel have proven themselves quite adept at laying cement with competence and precision. Char and Heather have been giving us their wisdom every evening with great insights laced with terrific humor. Becky, my faculty colleague, has been the anchor of the group and is glad to be back in San Lucas after 5 years.
Still more work to do today. Lent has now begun. Pongàmonos en camino!
Fr. Michael Kesicki