The Missions: San Francisco and San José

Unless the mission is oriented by charity, that is, unless it springs from a profound act of divine love, it risks being reduced to mere philanthropic and social activity...Consequently, being missionaries means loving God with all one's heart, even to the point, if necessary, of dying for him. - Pope Benedict XVI

It's called a "ramboyal" down here. Who knows what's its real name. It's beginning to bloom all over the place.

San José successfully hosted 300+ people for the Diocesan Assembly. This is an event occuring every other month where some lucky parish is selected to be the locale for the bishop, priests and anyone who helps out at parish to descend and gather. In gospel style, the host is expected to feed the masses too. I couldn't have been happier with my parish's ability to pull this off. The enthusiasm for such things is hopeful, I just wish it translated directly into Sunday Mass attendance. Both Fr. Gee, with San Francisco, and I now, with San José, have done our part. With 30 parishes in the diocese we hope this honor next time will fall to our successors.

On a troubling note. Food was provided for our guests: chicken, rice&beans, salad and fresh yuca from our own farm. The lunch was individually placed into stayrofoam boxes that doubled as plates. At the end of the meal these boxes were gathered into plastic bags and taken to the dump. This dump just so happens to be on the Haitian side of the river. It technically isn't Haitian land, but no Domincans are permitted to live there. Well, I passed this place early the next morning to say Mass in my chapels located 2 hours up the Internal Highway. I noticed our white boxes scatted about the dump. They were not in their plastic bags which indicated a lack of animal involvement and sadly not a morsel of a rice grain or chicken bone to be found.

Feel free to check our "History" post to the right, if you care for some back ground info on the misssions.

Our kittens are over two months old this week, so their off to make new homes. Fr. Gee looks forward to another litter. We had plenty of requests for these three, two of which we needed to go to work in two of our off site properties.

The parish of San José is near ready to host the diocesan assembly this Saturday. Some 350 persons including Bishop Grullón are expected for this full day event of meetings and more meetings. The pastor, Fr. Murphy, couldn't have more confidence in his staff to guide the day to success.

According to Rodney Stark's latest book, The Victory of Reason, the reason we American's are down here running two churches is that for centuries the Church is Latin America has been cooking the books. That is, the number of Catholics counted never really reflected a true number of even moderately practicing faithful. The reasoning goes, since the state was officially Catholic, then those who live in said state are Catholic and were counted as such. I see evidence for the veracity of this theory regularly. For example, I heard a prominent member of the clergy in this country once say, "60% of Dominican Catholics over the age of 14 aren't Baptized." A shocking statement on multiple levels. From what I can remember from my basic catechism is that one isn't Catholic till Baptism. I say all this, well, to give you all some understanding of what we're up against, but also to understand my latest story. I'm at my parish staff meeting and we're addressing the problem of bleak Sunday church attendance. Our trusty deacon gives us an anecdote of how he enforces afternoon study time in his household--he shuts off the power to the house. Well, it was then seriously proposed that since we have battery power in the church, why not shut the power off in town during the hour of Mass? It would be a convenient way to eliminate a few distractions for our flock. Alas, the idea was shelved, somehow it just seems to me too much like a terrorist tactic for my comfort. I'm afraid there is no substitute or short cut to the tried and true method of evangelization--the one on one experience. This is quite a task in a parish with over 5,000 souls.

Why the new Banger Bros. exhaust system, Fr. Murphy?
An extra 1.5 horsepower seemed like an appropriate way to honor the new life we celebrate in the Easter season.


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