Our Diocesan Connection with El Salvador

The St. Cloud city region was involved in an ecumenical partnership called “Partners Across Borders” for many years. Through this organization we were connected with the city of Tenancingo in El Salvador. Although the organization no longer exists, we remain connected, and people of our area can continue to connect with El Salvador through the SHARE Foundation.

kids_salvadorPartners Across Borders

The former organization “Partners Across Borders” was an organizational link between St. Cloud, Minnesota and its sister city in Tenancingo, El Salvador, Central America. The partnership was both a civic and faith based initiative that encompassed people of all ages and people of all walks of life including civic, professional, business, educational, and religious sectors. Partners Across Borders sought to promote lasting peace with justice in El Salvador through our solidarity with one of many communities that are working to create a humane, sustainable economy. The PAB organization has since disbanded, however their work continues through the ongoing connection of people of the St. Cloud area and Tenancingo, El Salvador, as well as through the work of the SHARE Foundation, a non-profit organization striving to help El Salvador find healing, peace and sustainability through the solidarity efforts of those in the US.

Tenancingo, El Salvador

A first hand account of Partners Across Borders by past Mission Office director Rosanne Fischer

The five hour bus ride from Guatemala City to San Salvador was uneventful, other than that the driver made it in four hours (which gives you an idea about his driving). Life in San Salvador is coarse and risky. Crime rates are high, traffic uncontainable, malaria and dengue epidemics raging. People work twelve hour shifts at foreign-owed factories for a minimum wage of $144 per month. The highlight of our couple days in San Salvador was our visit to the SHARE Foundation office. SHARE is the bridge in our local Partners Across Borders sister city with Tenancingo. The few dedicated, hardworking SHARE staff, including our own Dave Johnson, SJU graduate, are making a difference in people lives with their efforts to connect North and Central Americans to create community and search for solutions to the hard realities of life in El Salvador.

The hour ride from San Salvador to Tenancingo is like passing from the fiery furnace into the pearly gates. The lush green countryside, warm hospitality of the rural people and slower pace of life were a welcome relief. We stayed with Marcelo Fabian and his wife Candelaria, in a room that had cracks in the walls from the earthquakes of 2001 and had been officially condemned. The small, beautiful, condemned building was the first home Marcelo had ever built. They and their 10 children had lived in one refugee camp after another during the many years of war in El Salvador. They had finally settled in Tenancingo after the war, and Marcelo had finished the house just months before the earthquakes hit.

The parish church, St. James the Apostle, had also been condemned and deemed too dangerous to be useable. The community had already constructed a new building across the street, but a number of things were lacking, such as doors and windows. Sunday Mass was held in the patio of the parish rectory, with people flowing out the doors and onto the street. Following Mass we met with the parish leadership. They were thrilled to receive the $5500 check from the St. Cloud Diocese to help finish construction of the new church.

The living conditions in Tenancingo were the most primitive of any we experienced during our sojourn in Central America, yet the love was the greatest. We were among family. The children and I were recipients of 10 years worth of brother and sisterhood fostered between the small community of Tenancingo and the St. Cloud area. We have lived in each other’s homes. We have prayed together and walked together. We have struggled together to meet unmet human needs. We have been witnesses to each other of God’s great love for all creation and all peoples.