Diocesan Committee for Latin America
The good people of Honduras are struggling as we all are with the Global Pandemic. It is especially difficult for the poor who cannot afford to not work or pay for medication and hospitalization. They depend on the support of the generous in society.
Last fall, the country was devastated by two hurricanes only 2 weeks apart, sending muddy water running through the streets and washing away riverside shacks where the poor lived. With little or no help from their government, the people are forced to dig out by hand to uncover their homes. To add to their suffering, they are also dealing with lack of supplies due to the pandemic and illness.
Our projects, Fatima House and the Housing for the Homeless Families, are under stress. The school supports 52 girls and the sisters are finding it hard to acquire school supplies and support materials. The housing project hit a major hurdle but is underway for completion and moving 50 families into new homes in July. If only we could be there to see the joy on their faces as they are able to leave the dangerous streets and find security and comfort for their children.
Once a year, usually in June, we hold a Latin America Collection. For 2021, we have distributed envelopes to a number of Parishes for a Latin America Collection. Some Parishes have the envelopes in their yearly collection package. If you do not have a marked envelope but are able to help, please drop your donation in an envelope marked Latin America Committee and I know your Parish will forward it on your behalf.
A very special Thank You for any donation you are able to make. Every little bit counts to lighten the burden for our friends in Honduras.
Wanda Fedora, Chair
Latin America Committee, Diocese of Antigonish
Did You Know?
Our Diocese has held a close relationship with the people of Latin America since the 1950s when our priests lived among the poor delivering the Good News and helping them develop entrepreneurial skills. The Credit Union, known as Cooperativa Sagrada Familia, is the largest and most successful banking operation in Central America and it was started by our Priests from the Diocese of Antigonish. In 2020 they celebrated 50 years as a financial institution. Father Bernard MacAdam represented the founding members; Father Joe Muise, Father Bernard MacAdam and Father Norman MacPhee, at the celebration.
Many relationships were developed and still exist today. Our work with the Carmelite sisters in Tegucigalpa is helping many families and young girls through your generous support. The school for girls, Fatima House, is now in its 20th year and has developed into a strong and vibrant educational facility. Our girls are graduating and going on to careers that would never have been possible without the support of our Diocese members.
The housing project for homeless families has provided homes for 50 families and will continue to reach their goal of 100 houses. The parents can now look for employment and the children can attend the Fatima House school and receive the education so important in breaking the cycle of poverty.
In the fall of 2020 the area was hit by 2 strong hurricanes two weeks apart. Overflowing muddy rivers surged over the river banks where the poor live, destroying their meager homes. Coupled with the global pandemic our friends are turning to our Carmelite friends for assistance. Our support through the Diocese Latin America Committee can make a difference. Thank You for your continued donations, it is inspiring to see the generosity of so many.
By Fr. Bernie MacAdam
The Latin America Program was initiated in our diocese as the result of a request from the Holy See in 1960. John Paul II, the Pope at the time, alerted the Church to the plight of the Catholic faithful in several of the Latin American countries. He appealed to the generosity of the North American Churches to allocate personnel and financial aid to the work of the Church in Latin America.
Early in his episcopate our Bishop, His Excellency William E. Power responded to that request. After a period of consultation in the diocese a committee was put in place and the first four volunteers for the program were selected. It was decided that our contribution would not be to take on parish ministry but, because of our history on social issues that our contribution should be along the lines of community development, adult education, cooperatives, credit unions, literacy courses and such areas of endeavour.
The first volunteers (four priests) spent a period of preparation at the Coady International Institute in Antigonish and then went on to Mexico for language training. Such was the begining of our 20-year commitment in Honduras. Over those 20 years, 13 diocesan priests and one lay volunteer provided ministry to the people of Honduras.
In 1966 we assumed the responsibility of a parish in the city of Tegucigalpa. The parish was abandoned and included a large number of rural villages. Along with this parish ministry we continued our social involvement. Cooperatives and credit unions were established around the country, literacy courses provided for adults, funding was secured from agencies to facilitate the building of schools, community centres, and churches. Assistance and guidance was provided getting wells dug and electricity into areas of the parish. A credit union which began as a savings club in our parish hall has now grown into what is now regarded as the largest and most successful credit union in Latin America.
In January 1982, Bishop Power advised Archbishop Santos that our diocese could no longer provide personnel to his people. Our last two serving priests returned to the diocese in July of that same year. This, however, was not the end of our commitment to the people of Honduras. Bishop Power assured them that we would continue to assist the archdiocese in Honduras in some fashion other than providing them with priests. At that time a Latin America Committee was put in place. Its role was to continue our relationship and to provide funding for projects sent to them for approval. That committee is still in place and an annual collection is taken up each year during the month of June.
Another group in our diocese comprised of parishioners from Our Lady of Fatima parish in Sydney River has been actively supporting the people of the past 16 years. The group under the guidance of Fr. Norman MacPhee and Wanda Fedora is supporting and funding several major projects. Both have visited Honduras over the past several years. The group works with a very dynamic and charismatic Carmelite nun by the name of Sor. Marie de Jesus del Cid. This woman's vision and efforts on behalf of the poor and underprivileged has some refer to her as the Mother Teresa of Honduras. The first project involved the purchase of an abandoned factory which was renovated and turned into an orphanage/school. Young girls are taken in and are educated and given life skills under the direction of the Carmelite nuns. Another project is the building of a complete village on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa. A total of 100 sturdy homes have been constructed for poor families as well as a community centre, a church and a market. A remarkable success story!
A few years ago the Cardinal Archbish0p of Honduras (Oscar Rodriguez M.) visited the parish where I assist in Florida. That parish has a twin parish in Honduras. Speaking at a fundraising gala he praised and thanked the parishes who assist the poor in Latin America. During his speech he used the Diocese of Antigonish as an example. Lofty praise from the closest confidant of Pope Francis. He also made mention of the fact that our parish (Holy Family) has now been divided into four separate parishes and that it has produced four priests who work in his diocese. Of course, what was done and what we still do is done not to garner praise but simply remembering that the Church is never more Christlike than when she is a missionary church. The great Peruvian theologian F. Gustavo Gutierrez in his book Theology of Liberation observes that "a Church without missionary outreach is a Church without a soul ..." The avowed agnostic Malcolm Muggeridge who became a Catholic made a similar observation when speaking about Mother Teresa's work with the poor. His words: "She showed me Christianity in action and the power of love through our caring and compassionate attitude and actions towards the poor and most marginalized ..."
The present pandemic that we are suffering through is certainly a reminder of the inherent responsibilities that bind us together. In some ways it has brought out the worst in some but the best in many. Hopefully, it will be a clarion call and reminder to each one of us that we are truly our brother's keeper. A reminder to us that we are truly blessed when we reach out to those less fortunate than ourselves, ever mindful of the words of Jesus: "When you did it for these the less fortunate, you did it for me ..."
Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick
Ms. Wanda Fedora (Chair)
Mr. Donnie MacIsaac
Mr. Edwin MacLellan
Rev. Norman MacPhee
Ms. Avis Mysyk
Deacon Art Riley
Ms. Theresa Ryan