Humbled by the depth and sincerity
This is the 10th year anniversary of the founding of the sister parish relationship between St. James the Apostle of Lepaterique, Honduras, and St. Monica in Indianapolis, USA. This fact was celebrated with much joy by our brothers and sisters in Lepaterique during our visit this year. It was a time to look back and reflect on the lessons we have learned from one another. It was a time to celebrate how far we’ve come.
I have visited St. James 7 out of the 10 years that we have been in the relationship. The first year, I was overwhelmed by the unconditional love of brothers and sisters who had never met me but embraced me-literally! – with giant hugs as I entered the simple but beautiful church of St. James. I saw a faith that dwarfed my own in its total reliance on the providence of God. This year I watched as another new group experienced that outpouring of love and was humbled by its depth and sincerity. One of our members was from another parish struggling to build a sister parish relationship with a parish in another Honduran town. His comment, “These people really LOVE you guys,” told me we are on the right path.
Several years ago I watched as a barefoot elderly couple with a small sack of food approached the altar to deposit their “Libre de amor” (given freely out of love) gift to the monthly collection used to help the parish meet the needs of its most desperately poor brethren. This fund is supplemented by some of the funds donated to the Free Will Offering at St. Monica each month. It helps St. James evangelize the community of Lepaterique by sharing God’s bounty with all regardless of their religious affiliation. It was a powerful reminder of how we work TOGETHER to share God’s message of love and concern.
Sunday we had a beautiful outdoor Mass in the pine tree forest behind the seminary where we stay in St. James. Hundreds of people came from many of the aldeas (small outlying villages that make up the parish) we have visited over the years. Some walked up to 8 hours to be present for the celebration. Padre Enrique pointed out the similarity to the Gospel story of that day-the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. We had come from everywhere to be fed by God’s word and our blessings were multiplied by the sharing. I was blessed to be a Eucharistic minister at the Mass. As each person came up- many very familiar to me from past visits, others new friends- I fought back tears thinking about the beautiful body of Christ we form together. May the relationship continue to grow and prosper!
- Reflection by Kathleen Cohenour