Our Sister Parish
WHAT IS A SISTER PARISH?
The Catholic church has always asked members to reach out and share in various ways the work of spreading the gospel throughout the world, not just in their home area. Since 1978 a group named Missions International has helped establish and maintain relationships between parishes in the U.S. and Latin America who are willing to build solidarity. The U.S. parish literally helps their sister parish meet its parishioners’ physical needs and the sister parish helps its sponsoring parish by prayer and communicating about life in the missions. This relationship is fostered by frequent communication with letters, photos, prayer intentions, and exchange visits(hands-on-lay involvement) and regular monetary collections. These exchanges are handled by Missions International. 100% of the donations go directly to the sister parish. Administrative costs are funded by other voluntary donations. More information is available at the parish office, on our web site and in the vestibule of the church.
GET TO KNOW SAN LUIS GONZAGA PARISH
San Luis Gonzaga is the Spanish version of the saint we know in English as Saint Aloysius Gonzaga. He was a Jesuit who lived in the 16th Century in Italy. He died as a young man on June 21, 1591, thus his feast day is celebrated on June 21 each year.
The parish of San Luis Gonzaga is located in south-eastern Guatemala in Central America. Missions International has provided us with some information about the parish and its people. The parish is lead by Father Edwin Samol who was ordained on May 13, 2000. He has been there since 2004. San Luis parish serves a very large population and area in a more remote part of the country.
- Established in 1986
- 38,000 people live in the boundaries of the parish
- 70% of these are Catholic and 30% of the Catholics are “practicing”
- There are 49 communities in the parish served by 37 chapels where parishioners gather for Eucharist and Catechesis
- 18 of the communities are accessible by car & 31 only by horse or foot
- Each year 200 Baptisms are held, 170 First Communions and 100 Confirmations
- In order to help parishioners and children learn about and grow in their faith and prepare for the sacraments, Catechists are trained and conduct their ministry throughout the parish. Currently there are 35 catechists with 26 more in training. Training, depending on experience and level takes from 3 to 9 years. There are no Catholic Schools. There are some religious sisters ministering in the parish. Their responsibilities include a medical dispensary, Catechetics, training for health care, moral and spiritual support for all the groups working in the parish to form and help the parishioners.
THE PARISH’S NEEDS
Fr. Samol informs us that the unemployment rate in the parish is 70%. The daily average salary in the community is $2.75! This contributes to many of the problems faced by women and children, including malnutrition, domestic violence, abuse and marginalization, lack of education and abandonment of children or families.
- Primary needs as prioritized by the pastor are:
- Programs of social service for the villages
- Doctors and medicine for emergencies
- A parish school for better education
- A parish Formations Center for catechetics
- Medical equipment for the dispensary to improve service
ST STEPHEN PARISH RESPONDS
The Pastoral Council discussed becoming a sister parish in the spring of 2006 and after hearing a presentation by a representative of Missions International, unanimously agreed to commit our parish to a trial one year sponsorship of a parish. We continue to support the people of San Luis Gonzaga parish. Ask God how you and our parish can get involved in the mission of the church and further assist our brothers and sisters of San Luis Gonzaga parish.
HOW CAN I HELP ?
- Become informed about our Sister Parish by reading this brochure, the bulletin, reading the Parish Newsletter, and attending information meetings
- Pray often for the people and pastor of Saint Luis Gonzaga Parish in Guatemala
- Contribute to the regular collections
- Join the Sister Parish Committee or participate in activities organized by it