Preachers mission awareness trip
Dec. 2-9, 2008
CFCA preachers make history with first preacher awareness trip
This is a very special group and a very special opportunity for all participants, for the projects, for our beloved sponsored and for CFCA.†Nine CFCA†preachers attended†our first preacher†awareness trip to gain a deeper sense of the CFCA world. The El Salvador hosts were the sponsored families, Henry Flores, Yessenia Alfaro and the entire CFCA team. In Honduras, the hosts were the sponsored families, CFCA staff leaders Miriam Cartagena, Luis Jaco and the entire CFCA Team.
On Dec. 3, CFCA scholar Martita spoke in our opening prayer. Abandoned by her father when she was just 2, her mother struggled to send her children to school. Martita will graduate in one year with a bachelorís in computer science and administration. After learning that Martitaís CFCA scholarship covered only half of her university expenses, Father Jim OíToole stepped forward and offered to become her sponsor.
Personal stories stand out
Tradition among the sponsored families in Tacuba is to silently hide in the church and surprise the mission awareness trip participants who arrive thinking that the town is still asleep. Father Bob Hasenkamp celebrated Holy Mass with Salvadoran Father Edwin Roberto Nunez.
When speaking of language limitations, Father Bob Hasenkamp mentioned that ìwe speak with our eyes and our hearts.î
Family visits along with natural and stimulating interchanges followed. The preachers commented that they were hearing really fine anecdotes for their personal edification and for their preaching.
At our morning prayer, we were able to appreciate the inspiring personal stories of scholars Cristina and Daniel. Cristina, 22, grew up and still lives in the rural community of San Jacinto where her father is a daily farm worker. As a child, she walked 45 minutes one way to school in the settlement of El Progreso. Cristina expressed tremendous thanks and joy for the program. A university graduate with a degree in computer systems, Cristina is a full-time staff member of CFCA.
Daniel is a talented, outgoing and confident 18-year-old. Last weekend, he graduated from high school and is ready to begin university studies toward a degree in journalism. He helps as a field promoter and assistant in the correspondence department of the central office.
The preachers distributed shoes, book bags, school supplies and new clothes.
La Realidad squatter village
We finished the day with a†gathering in the community, La Realidad. Constructed by squatter families along an abandoned railroad, an inspiring CFCA community is in the making. Our social worker for this area, Jenny, has the love and respect of the community. Jenny grew up and currently lives in a similar poor community. She is now in her fourth year† at a university, majoring in business management.
We boarded four vehicles and crossed over to Guatemala to visit the Shrine and Pilgrimage Site of Cristo Negro in Esquipulas and then went to Ocotepeque, Honduras.
Twenty-five children and five aging make up the current clientele at Casa Hogar. Luis Jaco began by giving us a reality picture of life in this area, of the natural fit of this home in the overall CFCA communityóOcotepeque. The kids really made the place shineóespecially their own sleeping areas. In the chapel there is a plaque in memory of scholar Juan Antonio Paz Santos, born Aug. 8, 1991. He was struck by a semi-trailer just days before his graduation as a young professional on Nov. 18, 2008.
Father†O’Toole blessed every room and space in the Casa Hogar with a bucket of holy water, a tree branch and the help of several assistants from the Hogar.†He also blessed Cristina and†me on our wedding anniversary.
Iím confident that as a result of the many family visits weíve been able to make in El Salvador and Honduras, our priests will have lots of stories and material for their preaching.
It is dark and foggy as we head up and over the pass at El Portillo on our way back to Ocotepeque. Fortunately, our way is lighted up by fires in front of homes, for on the eve of Immaculate Conception, the devil himself is symbolically burned.
We now drive back to San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala,†for a few days of staff formation and Christmas activities with the families. We are preparing for a†group of sponsors arriving on Dec. 26. Cristina and I wish you every blessing during this sacred time and throughout the new year.