Our Lady of Guadalupe School is a parochial elementary school supported by the parish by providing funds for the salaries of the eleven teachers. Thanks to your generosity, the school opened its doors in January, 2002. Approximately 225 children attend school and their parents are extremely grateful to have this opportunity for their children.
VISIT TO ST TOMAS - JULY 2010
By Steve Dalhoff, Committee Member
While on a faith-sharing mission trip with Sending Out Servants during the last week in June, God gave me the opportunity to visit Chiché, the home of our "little school" and celebrate Saturday night Mass with the Maya at Saint Tomas Church. The Mass was a children's Mass, which is celebrated once a month, but this time it was an even bigger occasion. The church was packed. Fr. Mateo and the parish honored St. Ignatius for our loving support of our "little school," Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Our Missionary Outreach Committee co-chair, Tony Rodriguez, was expected to be present, but due to the passing of Tony's mother and Tony's resulting inability to attend, I became the envoy for our committee and our parish, with the loving assistance of fellow parishioner and translator Leo Mejia. It was also a night where all of the town teachers and the principal of the “little school” were honored (teacher’s day in Guatemala).
The love and appreciation was not only voiced by the school committee president, but by the children as well, as they even arranged a special song written just for St. Ignatius. At the end of Mass, the president thanked us for our continued support of both financial aid and prayers, and I witnessed the fruits of our commitment through the reverent involvement of the children during Mass. The children were well versed in all that they did, from the processing into the church to the readings and all of the hymns. Other than the actions of Fr. Mateo as priest, the children performed all of the lay functions with deep reverence. One could readily witness the faith these children and teachers had obtained being a part of the only parochial school in the Quiché province —a part of which our parish of St. Ignatius could be genuinely proud. The president of the school committee asked for our continued support and prayers, as we continue forward with this project that started some eight years ago. With Leo's urging, I was given a chance to speak to the congregation, and assured them that we would follow God's will in whatever God held for the future of the “little school” project.
I was met after Mass by a former school principal who presented our parish with a cloth that she had personally made as a thank you to us.
Also, after mass, we had a meeting with the school committee, Father Mateo and a group of school parents for about 45 minutes. The committee presented to us their annual financial report and an outside auditor’s report that they hired when Fe y Alegría left the school. The parents shared with us some of their small projects that they put in practice to help the school financially.
While driving back to Santa Cruz that evening, I felt a deep admiration for our parish, and filled in me a love for the Maya of that community that I will never forget.
GRADUATION - OCTOBER 2008
By Ruth & Bob Kleeman, Committee Members
By Ruth & Bob Kleeman, Committee Members
We have been members of the Mission Outreach Committee since its inception in 2001 and had the pleasure of visiting Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Chiche for graduation. This year’s graduating class marked the graduation of those students who started their schooling in kindergarten and they received their elementary education at the parochial school. The school year was completed in mid October and graduation festivities were held on Tuesday, October 28.
The entire day was one of celebrations, starting with Mass celebrated by Bishop Molina, along with Father Mateo and Father Sebastian, the respective present and former pastors of the parish. During the meal after the Mass, Bishop Molina emphasized the importance of Catholic education and encouraged our parish to continue in its mission of education of the poor. Graduation ceremonies took place in the afternoon for both the little ones from kindergarten and the sixth grade graduates. Following the ceremonies all of the graduates, their families and teaching staff attended a special dinner held in the patio area of the church.
We spent a total of six days in the community and had a full agenda of visits and activities. Some of these included visiting the sick in their homes with Father Mateo for the reception of the Sacraments; attending and participating in prayer services for the deceased, which were also held in the homes; visiting the teachers at the school during their end of school year responsibilities; attending funeral services of two young men, who met their death in Guatemala City; going the cemetery and helping a local family decorate their family’s grave site for the celebration of All Saints’ Day, called “Day of the Dead”.
Some of the things that impressed us were the hospitality of the people and how much they appreciate the support of St. Ignatius parishioners, which enables their children to attend school. Additionally, the opportunity to participate in the lives of the people, to visit them in their homes and to pray with them is very special and meaningful. We are awed by the spirituality of the Mayan, or indigenous, people – it seems like they have a “direct line” to God.
In reflecting on the trip, we feel that what we experienced is similar to a retreat – leaving our own environment, participating in different way of life, eating different foods and being in beautiful surroundings and interacting with holy people. The entire experience causes us to reflect about our lives. We feel that we were very fortunate to have the opportunity to go to Chiche to visit with the people, renew friendships, and attend the graduations festivities. Hopefully, we will be able to visit again.