40 missionaries will be going to serve the poor. Please help sponsor them and keep them in your prayers. Financial donations can be sent to Mary Our Queen, 6260 The Corners Parkway, Norcross, GA 30092. Please write in the memo line of your check "Honduras Mission". Thank you and God bless.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Turn n' Burn

On our final work day in Honduras, we returned to the House Construction Site to move more dirt to be used for filling in the walls of the new house. 

Our team had a pretty good system going: Father Felix would drive five of us down the road a few miles to the dirt mine (Near the construction site, the dirt was too rocky for the family to use for their walls). 

Once we filled the bed up with good dirt, we would head back up the mountain to the house construction site. 

Tom (left) and Brother Roch empty dirt out of the bed of the pickup truck.

Upon returning to the house construction site, we'd dump the dirt on the side of the road. Father Felix and his five compadres would  then "turn n' burn" back down the mountain for more dirt. 

Brother Roch and Rick filling their bags with dirt to take down the hill. 

From the dirt pile on the side of the road, bags were filled to transport the dirt down the narrow path to the new house.

Throughout the week, the Honduran family we were helping worked a long side us every day. Without complaint - even with joy - they participated in the same physical, manual labor as us. This young lady made multiple trips up to the road, and back down with heavy bags of dirt                          - all in flip flops!

Hector, Deree, and this little boy made multiple trips up and down the trail, carrying bags of dirt as big as themselves to the new home. 

The bags of dirt were dumped into piles next to the house. Here the dirt was mixed with water to form the clay used for filling the gaps between the slats of wood. 

The process to get enough dirt down to the construction site was difficult and slow. Each trip, or "turn n' burn" in the pickup truck, required about 35 minutes from the time one truckload of dirt was offloaded until the truck returned with more dirt. 

Rick, Allen and Charlene (below) treating the wood slats to prevent rotting.

From left to right: Deree, El Hefe (the boss), Deacon John, and Carey. 

The universal language of love - combined with some broken spanish here and there - dissolved all language and cultural barriers. It was tough saying goodbye to our new friends. 

Father Paschal, Charlene, and Russ inspect the new roof that our team installed for a young mother living in downtown Comayagua. Last night, it poured for hours, but all was dry inside. 

"La Catedral," built in the 1600s, located in downtown Comayagua. After work on Friday, Father Paschal took our crew into town to go site seeing. 

Sunrise at Casa Guadalupe
Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight; I shall place my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not contend nor cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory. And in his name, the Gentiles will hope."

The 2016 Mary Our Queen Honduras Mission Team pose for one final picture with the Friars. Photo was taken in the garden at Casa Guadalupe  just before we headed out to the airport. 

In the words spoken through Isaiah, revisited in today's gospel reading from Matthew, we were reminded of the need for mercy and justice in our own lives, our own homes, and in our world. As our mission team "turns n' burns" back to the United States, we were reminded that you need not look very hard, nor travel to a foreign country, to find injustice. Sharing a sandwich, or giving a simple word of encouragement to someone in need may be all it takes for Christ to keep the light of life smoldering in a suffering soul.

Shout out to the Friars

When someone mentions ‘Catholic Priest,’ most people imagine a strict man, trapped in a tight black suit, choked by a stiff white collar. This black and white stereotype of your typical diocesan priest, however does not describe the catholic priests of the Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

Left to Right: Brother Diego, Brother Roch, Father Felix. 

The Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR) often wear gray hooded robes called habits. Hundreds of years ago, Saint Francis – the founding father of the CFRs – did not desire to wear the fancy robes preferred by most clergy, but instead wished to blend in with the poor and common folk.  In the 12th century, the poor and common folk wore plain, simple habits. In continuation of this practice, the CFRs today wear the simple gray habit.

Friars wear a rope belt around the waist of their habit. The rope contains three knots, symbolizing the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. 

 Like Saint Francis, today’s friars often prefer to blend in with the common man and can therefore,  opt to wear modest jeans, a ball cap, and t-shirt when working with the poor out in the field.

Father Rich (left) wearing the habit - common dress of the poor in the time of his patron, Saint Francis, stands next to his brother - Father Paschal - who dons the clothing of today's common man. 

From Left to Right: Deacon John, Mark, and Brother Roch (CFR). 

 Not all friars are priests  - some do not have a vocation, or calling from God, to the priesthood, and therefore carry out their religious life as “brothers.”  Fraternity is a major part of the CFRs. Often times; ordained brothers (aka “priests”) will refer to themselves first as “brothers who happen to be priests as well.” In this fraternal setting, the friars serve each other in chores such as cooking, cleaning, yard work/gardening, and maintenance – Friaries are not allowed to hire employees to work in the Friary. Saint Francis believed in the importance of manual labor, especially among men.

The fraternal lifestyle and community living amongst the CFRs is second only to their prayer lifestyle.  Everything the Friars do revolves around a personal relationship to Christ through the sacraments, scripture, and prayer. The Friars begin their individual prayers at 5 A.M. followed by silent meditation until group prayer (morning prayer) at 6:30. Immediately following morning prayers, they celebrate Mass together.

Father Felix (left) the celebrant, gets ready to head into the chapel to celebrate Mass with Deacon John (middle) and Brother (Deacon) Roch. 

Throughout the rest of the day, the Friars carry out their “apostolate” duties to preach the Word of God and serve the poor. This duty encompasses a wide variety of works, such as home visits to the sick, elderly, or orphans, begging on the streets (the friars rely on God’s providence for their own livelihoods), children’s ministry, construction projects, etc. The Friars carry out their apostolate duties in poor areas all across the world: in New York, New Jersey, Honduras, Nicaragua, and in London.

Father Felix (left) at the House Construction Site. 

Brother (Deacon) Roch (CFR) shovels dirt out of the back of a pickup truck.

Father Youssef  with Jonathan and Glenda at Cenaculo.

Father Rich with Jim, Mark, and Russ.

Brother Diego with the children.

Jim (left) with Brother Roch and Father Paschal.

Father Rich putting up new roofing.

By 5:00 PM, the Friars return from “the field” to gather for Holy Hour in the chapel. During Holy Hour, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for silent adoration and prayer. According to one Brother, the spiritual food from the Eucharist – consumed during Mass, and later adored during Holy Hour, gives him the strength to work in “the field.” Many times, there is little consolation in serving the poorest of the poor.

Eucharistic Adoration during Holy Hour in the chapel.

Following Holy Hour and evening prayers, the Friars sit down together for dinner. Dinner is the only formal meal of the day – somebody is assigned each night to cook and set the table.  In Honduras, the Friars eat rice and beans for dinner.  Dinner is normally followed with some form of recreational activity, and the day is concluded with prayer.

Formation in the CFRs takes six years before one makes final vows.  The first year, called “postulancy,” is mainly a year of discernment. After the second year, called “novitiate,” young men make temporary vows to poverty, chastity, and obedience – then receive two habits and their rosary. These temporary vows are renewed annually for four years until a friar makes his final vows to God. If a young man wishes to leave the order at any point during this six-year period before taking final vows, he may. Not everyone is called to this lifestyle. To those who have generously and freely answered a vocation to join the CFRs, we are grateful. 

L-R: Father Richard, Father Paschal, Father Felix, Father Ussef, and Brother (Deacon) Roch.

Regardless of one’s vocation in life, everyone has a universal calling from God to Holiness.  For those of us who have been called to married life, or some other religious vocation, spending one week with CFRs is, nonetheless, a true blessing.