On June 13, 2007, I arrived in Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras, to begin my ministry with the diocese. Five years later, I can say that it was one of the best things that ever happened to me in my life.
It “happened” to me.
I did not plan to be here in Honduras, but God has a way of calling us out of our complacency and challenging us.
I was content with my ministry at St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center in Ames, Iowa. I loved working with students in campus ministry and with the whole parish in the social justice ministry. I had some connection with the poor and even with the third world poor, through yearly visits to El Salvador.
But a 2006 spring break trip to New Orleans with St. Thomas folks shook all that up.
We were cleaning out houses damaged by hurricane Katrina.
At one house we met the owner, Sondra, an African-American woman in her early sixties. She had raised her children and grandchildren in the house which had been under more than three feet of water for weeks. Everything was devastated by mold. As we brought all her possessions out to the curb to be hauled away, she stood there – serene, tranquil, sustained by her faith.
Later I reflected that as we emptied out her house, something was emptied out in me and I was opened to the possibility of a real change.
I returned from New Orleans and began looking into the possibilities of offering myself to the diocese of Santa Rosa, where a good friend – Sister Nancy Meyerhofer – was working.
A visit in May 2006 with the bishop, Monseñor Luis Alfonso Santos, opened up the possibilities and within a year I arrived here.
Since arriving what I’ve been doing keeps changing, but what really gives me life is my work with people in the countryside – visiting their villages, helping in the formation programs for the pastoral workers, praying and celebrating with them.
It has been a gift to me and has given me great joy. I feel this is where God wants me.
I am often asked by people here how long I’ll be here. My response is “hasta que Dios quiera” which is my translation of “until God calls me somewhere else.”
And so I continue here – with joy, with a renewed sense of commitment, with hopes of being “good news to the poor.”
I came with the sense of being called to be of service to those most in need. May this vision sustain me and my I become even more a servant of the poor.