maracay_singing2012Partnering Faith Communities – global solidarity at the grass roots level

Our Diocese believes strongly in our call to global solidarity. In addition to our many diocesan connections and our two global solidarity partnerships, we also have numerous parishes or faith communities in the diocese who have entered into community-to-community partnerships in other areas of the world. These relationships broaden our faith, world-view, experienes and ultimately make the lives of those involved and the people around them so much better! Below are examples and stories from some of our parishes involved in sister parish relationships; see how beautiful and beneficial these friendships can be.


kay_leslieBrandon, MN and Barbacoas, Venezuela

St. Ann’s in Brandon and Immaculate Conception Parish in Barbacoas, Venezuela are Sister Parishes with a long history and great activity! Below is information about their relationship and how it has grown through the years.  (Note: with current clustering situations in the St. Cloud Diocese, this partnering relationship now includes the other parishes clustered with Brandon as well – Urbank, Millerville and Parkers Prairie; all four parishes consider themselves a partner and friend to Barbacoas!)

HISTORY:

St. Ann’s Catholic Parish of Brandon, Minnesota has decided to take their faith to a new pro-active depth by getting involved in “mission.” While the Dioceses of St. Cloud and Maracay, Venezuela, have a long history dating back to 1964 of sending many priests, sisters, and lay volunteers to serve and accompany our sister and brothers in the Diocese of Maracay; the Parish of St. Ann’s have decided that they too are going to get on board and get involved in “mission.”

Shirley (a St. Ann’s parish member) and Jim Anderson traveled to Maracay, Venezuela, on a “reverse” mission trip with Fr. Tony Kroll from January 17-31, 2000. Shirley was especially moved by the liturgies in Maracay, the Venezuelan’s enthusiasm and happiness, and the active participation of the youth in the church of Venezuela. The people of Barbacoas graciously welcomed her to their community, and were so willing to share. “They always brought small gifts,” Shirley said in an April 2000 West Douglas County Record interview. Her “reverse” mission trip became a very enriching faith exchange.

Shirley came away from her Venezuelan trip transformed and on fire. By March of that year, Shirley had engaged the St. Ann’s parish council in building an on-going relationship with Immaculate Conception Parish in Barbacoas, Venezuela. By early October of 2000, St. Ann’s of Brandon were hosting their first group of parishioners and the parish priest from Immaculate Conception of Barbacoas.

The relationship has continued to grow since then by engaging parishioners, families, youth, mission circle members, and priests from both parishes. Personal contact through delegation visits and on-going communication has been essential in remaining connected, sharing faith, learning about each others culture, and fostering the relationship.

carla_pumpkinDELEGATIONS:

In 2002, when St. Ann’s celebrated their 100th anniversary, a delegation from Barbacoas came to Brandon to join in the festivities. In October, 2004, another group of Venezuelans came to Brandon; and, immediately joined in October festivities, carving pumpkins, fishing and showing Brandonites some Venezuelan dancing.

In January, 2005, five members from St. Ann’s Parish in Brandon traveled to Venezuela on a reverse mission trip to broaden and deepen their relationship with the parish of Barbacoas. Father Tony Kroll led the Minnesota group, which also included three of the Anderson’s teen-age granddaughters and Catholic parishioners from Pierz, Perham and New Ulm as well. Representatives from the Brandon Parish included Shirley Anderson, Rebecca Roers, Gabbie Roers, Lowell Anderson and Kay Anderson.

Their sister parish relationship continues to grow by engaging parishioners, families, youth, mission circle members, and priests from both parishes. In Brandon for example, members of the St. Judes Mission Circle at St. Ann’s have developed a special connection with the children of Barbacoas. Personal contact through delegation visits and on-going communication has been essential in remaining connected, sharing faith, learning about each other’s culture, and fostering the relationship. Their mutual love for each other grows more with every exchange visit. Shirley and other from St. Ann’s Parish have grown to love their Venezuelan friends and families and continue to look forward to more visits (if the Lord be willing). Shirley said, ” I had met so many members of their families in Venezuela that I also want them to meet some of my family.”

groups_stjudeST. JUDE’S MISSION GROUP:

The relationship also became very personal for the parish members of St. Jude’s Mission Group, when they adopted their sister parish as their primary focus for planned activities. When they began sewing dresses for little girls and shorts for the boys, they began to feel that a part of them was going to Venezuela every time a suitcase was sent with some of their efforts. As their goals, they want to:

  1. increase communication,
  2. provide needed clothing, personal hygiene and school supplies
  3. pray for the spiritual and physical needs of their Venezuelan brothers and sisters; and
  4. learn more about Venezuela and Barbacoas, its people, and their faith.

One Christmas, the Mission Group and the faith formation director decided to send our Christmas wishes directly to the families. The Mission Group recycled 150 used Christmas cards; and one of the Mission Group members, Chris Korkowski, volunteered to take pictures of each parish family who wanted to include a family picture with their greetings. Then the parish students decided to go shopping or to create Christmas presents for the children of Barbacoas. They placed their presents in boxes at the entrance to the church; and, the gifts were taken to Venezuela by parishioners who were planning a trip the following January.

PRAYER:

The Catholics of Brandon know the Catholics of Barbacoas are praying for them every Thursday. In Barbacoas they have Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Thursdays; during that time, they pray a rosary for the intentions of the Catholics of St. Ann’s Parish in Brandon. When Father in Brandon say Mass for the members of his parishes, he includes “our sister parish in Venezuela.” These prayers, as well as the individual prayers of parishioners in both Americas, make the relationship very real and very comforting to both.


Morris, MN and Quito, Peru

St. Mary’s Parish in Morris, Minnesota is in a sister parish relationship with a parish in Quito, Peru. The following is an article by Rosanne Fischer about the relationship writtin in 2003.

Fr. Luis “Lucho” Palomino, from Nuestra Senora del Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary) parish in Quillo, Peru, is nearing the end of his sabbatical year, which he spent at his sister parish, Assumption, in Morris, Minnesota. In addition to strengthening bonds between the two parishes, Fr. Lucho has been a missioner to the Diocese of St. Cloud, assisting with Hispanic Ministry.

Fr. Lucho is a missioner in his own country as well. He is from the coastal region, but learned the Quechua language of the indigenous mountain people in order to live and serve among them. He finds it difficult to keep up with the demands of preaching, administering sacraments, visiting the sick and attending to the malnourished children in his 44 communities. He enlists the help of 4-6 friends each year to walk the 7-8 hours into the remote zones of his parish to treat the children for parasites. The medicine is purchased with a portion of the $5000 per year that the parish in Morris sends to Quillo. The parish works with a couple members in each rural zone to assure that the wells are clean and chlorinated, and to teach composting methods.

The outlook for youth in Quillo is grim. Very few can afford post secondary education, and work sources are scarce. With no education and no work, the youth fall prey to drugs, or go to the cities in search of opportunities, but often end up falling into bad things.

In view of the situation, Fr. Lucho says that sometimes there is a “collective depression” in the parish community. He says it is easy to preach nicely in the pulpit, but at times he sees no way forward – no solutions – and that makes him prone to depression also. Sometimes he feels like Jesus on the cross, “Lord, why have you abandoned me?” But then he remembers the other response, “Father, to you I commend my spirit.” He remembers that it is “better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”

The sister parish relationship brings hope. Fr. Lucho appreciates the give and take of the relationship. He has been in Minnesota for almost a year representing the Peruvian church. Others from Morris have also traveled to Peru. Jolaine Jennissen spent 6 weeks in Peru last summer. A group of 12 youth and adults from Morris traveled to Peru last July. Both churches grow in faith through these encounters. The people from Morris experience a transformation of heart. “They cannot believe me when I say there are communities without any bathrooms or even outhouses, where people just use the bushes on the hillsides,” said Fr. Lucho. One of the young women who went with the group to Peru in 2002 came back and said, “I demand so much of my parents. Now that I have seen the little that others have, I realize I only need what is necessary to live.” One young laboratory technician went on a past trip, and her experiences touched her so deeply she and her fiancée, a dentist, want to spend their vacations in Peru.

Fr. Lucho believes there are probably many others, retired professionals, such as carpenters and electricians, who want to do things. The relationship between the parishes would provide the opportunity for people to spend 2-3 months living in the parish and teach their trade to the youth. At the same time, they would be sharing faith, and experiencing the love and solidarity of the people. In his country, where anti-American sentiment is strong, the Christian witnesses from Morris provide another face of North Americans as people with good hearts who want peace.

Fr. Lucho has plans for his parishioners as he contemplates his return to Peru in January, 2004. With the support provided by Morris, they are already trying to change the “macho” culture in which boys are given priority for schooling by facilitating education and school materials for girls. He hopes to rent or buy land under the name of the parish so the youth can grow vegetables, and start a chicken farm. He also dreams of helping his parishioners invest in a gas station on a main road as a source of work and income.

We thank Fr. Lucho for his presence and ministry among us for 12 months. We thank him for awakening us to the realities in our world and helping us to see the suffering face of Christ in our midst today.


hb_kathy-migoriSauk Centre, MN and Migori, Kenya

Sauk Centre is in a sister parish relationship with the parish of Migori in the Homa Bay Diocese in Kenya, East Africa. In January of 2007, two members of their parish traveled to Migori. Since then delegations have both come and gone from each parish to one another, helping their relationship and their mutual Christian faith to grow! The following is an article written by Kathy Knoblach, DRE and parishioner of St. Paul’s parish in Sauk Centre, following her 2007 trip to Migori.

In May of 2003, St. Paul’s and Our Lady of the Angels parishes in Sauk Centre and St. Joseph’s parish in Migori, Kenya, entered into a sister parish relationship. It began by hosting a Kenyan from the Homa Bay delegation and recently included our own delegation of two traveling to Migori for three weeks in January 2007.

During our time in Africa, we experienced the incredible hospitality and welcoming of the Kenyan people. We participated in their liturgies, experienced their daily lives by drawing water from the river, working in the shamba (garden), preparing and cooking food, and learning about their hopes, dreams, and struggles. We attended a small Christian community gathering and a Sunday service without a priest. We met with their women’s groups, their orphans, and visited many of their outstations and schools.

hb_amy_migoriWe determined that our sister parish partnership is based on relationship. By traveling to Kenya, our partnership truly became a reality for both sides. We accomplished much together in our short time and created a base on which to build a solid relationship. One of the first things we did during our meeting was to create our own motto on which to focus our relationship. We chose, “Walking hand in hand in faith to the Lord.” We are likened to two children walking hand in hand, sharing life and faith, as we journey through this world to our final Kingdom with God.

Without a doubt, we are a global church. Our neighbor is more than the person next door, but also the person living on another continent. As we visited a kindergarten class, a small boy stood and led his fellow students in the before meal prayer, the same one we pray before all of our meals. We have the same dreams for our families, hopes for our children, say the same prayers, share the same liturgy (with less dancing) and we are all children of our heavenly Father.

We are blessed to have the opportunity to join with another parish half way around the world to pray for each other, learn from each other, and grow closer together over the years as we share the blessings God has given to each of us.


ohmannMutual Exchanges

The following is a reflection on partnerships written by Maryknoll Missioner, Fr. Dan Ohmann, who has lived and ministered in Tanzania throughout his Maryknoll career.

What if the rich man would have invited Lazarus to come and eat with him? What would you have? You would have the beginning of the Kingdom of God.

I have now accompanied three delegations from my home Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota to the Homa Bay Diocese in western Kenya. “Out of this experience,” I told the St. Cloud delegation, “you should have a taste of the kingdom of God.”

What began mainly as a project-visiting tour, a people-gazing tour, an animal-gazing tour has quickly turned into a mutual sharing experience, with the St. Cloud side getting the better of the exchange. They soon saw themselves as the Lazarus, the poor man, being invited by the Homa Bay Catholics, rich in spirit, to share the meal with them.

I think I can truthfully say that to the very last person of the St. Cloud delegations, this was a taste of the kingdom of God. They could not imagine enjoying a two-hour liturgy, nor imagine finding joy and hope in a life situation devastated by AIDS. This diocese-to-diocese program began under the sponsorship of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Bishop John Kinney initiated it in the Diocese of St. Cloud. He was fortunate to have Father William Vos and a good Mission Office staff to organize, manage, and motivate the delegates.