by Jerry Monks, for the Inland Register
(From the Aug. 18, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)
Children join with their native teacher in an educational song at Our Lady of the Highway Preschool in the Spokane mission area near Novillero, Guatemala. Sisters Immaculata Burke and Marie Tolle of the Sisters of Charity of New York were instrumental in arranging for construction of the church and school complex. Pasco’s St Patrick Parish helps fund the Sisters, and parishes in Walla Walla support the instructional cost at the school. In addition, Our Lady of Fatima parish provides funds so the children can have a breakfast. Several homes in the vicinity of the school were swept away or badly damaged, and corn supplies lost, by heavy rains and mud slides during the past year. Some of the storm relief funds supplied by Spokane were used to provide emergency food and housing to families living close to this preschool. (IR photo courtesy of the Guatemala Commission)
Parishioners of the Diocese of Spokane continued their long-standing support of the Mayan Indians in the Highlands of Guatemala during the past fiscal year. Despite adverse economic conditions in communities of Eastern Washington, most parishes and individuals who helped in the past remained true to the covenant endorsed by Bishop Bernard Topel over 50 years ago.
During the 12 months ending June 30, 13 parishes, along with 22 individuals, combined to generate sufficient funds to cover the 2010-2011 budget, plus $17,127 in “non-budgeted” emergency help for storm victims. The storm relief funds were donated in a special collection supported by over 50 individual and parish organizations. Parish donations came from Assumption of Spokane ($3,000), St. Patrick of Walla Walla ($3,000), St. Thomas More in Spokane ($1,983), and Sacred Heart of Spokane ($1,516).
Parishes helping with the FY 2010-2011 Guatemala mission programs included St. Augustine, with $6,447 in assistance to the Catholic Colegio in Nahualá. Students from Assumption School (Walla Walla) added another $400 for the Colegio.
Health programs received assistance of $14,006 from St. Mary Parish, Spokane Valley, and $4,653 from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, plus $1,492 from St. Mary of the Rosary Parish, Chewelah, and contributions from two individuals.
St. Patrick Parish in Pasco continued its support with $6,673 for the stipends of the two Sisters of Charity (Sisters Immaculata Burke and Marie Tolle) who work in the Spokane mission. Although income was not sufficient to cover salary expenses, the budgeted costs were met with the help of individual and unrestricted donations.
The three Walla Walla parishes – St. Patrick, St. Francis, and Assumption – helped with $4,411 in pastoral support plus another $1,000 for seminarians in Sololá. They also provided $1,950 for instructional assistance at Our Lady of the Highway preschool. An additional $1,800 from Walla Walla was coupled with $3,240 from Sacred Heart Parish in Pullman to benefit the Nahualá radio station that was founded by the Spokane Diocese’s Father John Rompa back in 1962.
St. Patrick Parish, Spokane, supplied $1,080 for the seminarians in Sololá. The Walla Walla parishes also contributed $1,000 and the Knights of Columbus of St. Mary Parish, Spokane Valley, raised $450 for this need.
St. Joseph Parish in Colbert provided $2,350 in educational assistance to the seminarians from Ixtahuacán and also supplied $720 for the Ixtahuacán youth programs and $1,200 for the Ixtahuacán Marian Center.
Unrestricted gifts from Spokane’s St. Anthony Parish ($2,500) and from Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary ($5,200), along with those from a few individuals, were critical to enabling the Guatemala Commission to meet its budgeted programs for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
Our Lady of Fatima and St. Thomas More parishes support the mission via separate programs that are operated in conjunction with those of the diocese. Our Lady of Fatima’s focus is in the educational area, and St. Thomas More works through Family-To-Family to emphasize economic development and training programs to help the most disadvantaged families become more self-sufficient.
The commission thanks all parishioners who answered the call to help the poor in the Spokane Mission area in Guatemala last year. In planning programs for the current 2011-12 fiscal year, funds will be especially needed for the school (Colegio) in Nahualá, health and clinics, and compensation for the sisters. Parishes that do not yet contribute, but are interested in helping, are invited to contact the Guatemala Commission at P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210, or phone Donna Connell at (509) 924-1346.
(Jerry Monks is a member of the diocese’s Guatemala Commission.)
Minor seminary students in class in the Spokane mission area in Sololá, Guatemala. When Bishop Gonzalo de Villa of Sololá/Chimaltenango visited Spokane in 2009, he met with students at St. Patrick and Cataldo schools and thanked them for their support of seminarians. St. Patrick Parish in the Hillyard neighborhood of Spokane has helped fund the seminary for many years. Parishes in Walla Walla joined in that support last year. The seminary now supplies priests to the area served by the Spokane mission. Among the first Spokane priests in the mission area were Fathers Cornelius Verdoorn and Francis O’Neil (1959) and, the next year, Father John Rompa. Father Rompa went on to open the Voice of Nahualá radio station, which currently receives some support from Sacred Heart Parish in Pullman and St. Patrick and St. Francis parishes of Walla Walla. (IR photo courtesy of the Guatemala Commission)