By Angelle Hall
“It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.”*
On March 1, 2020, I shared updates and information in the bulletin on our Sister Parish as we prepared to support them in our Lenten Project as we have done every Lent since 2014. And then, not soon after, we were all grappling with the pandemic. Even so, our parish met and exceeded our goal of $9500 with a total of $10,500 in funds donated to our sister parish community. I am amazed and inspired (but not surprised!) at our parish’s generosity to our brothers and sisters in El Salvador.
One year ago today, on March 14, 2020, El Salvador entered a quarantine state. Schools were closed, and the classes went to virtual mode. Our sistering partner CRIPDES Sur, who does grassroots work in the community, pivoted to meet the needs of the people. Their commitment to strengthening youth groups and women’s groups continued albeit in a different way. Masks and hygiene efforts (and education on their necessity) became a part of their lives as they have become a part of ours. But they continued their efforts to educate youth on their rights and also in cultural activities that provide healthy avenues to spend their time. Youth received traditional dance costumes and two batucada music groups received instruments (Batucada is an African-influenced Brazilian percussive-style). Our women’s groups continued to receive training on their microloan groups and gardens. They also participated in workshops and trainings on the violence prevention law and their rights and relevant information on how the pandemic has contributed to violence against women.
And then, our Salvadoran friends were faced with terrible hurricanes Amanda, Cristobal, and Iota. Due to the storms, families were affected with losses of their homes, crops, and material goods. In response, CRIPDES accompanied the evacuation of families to safe places, and temporary shelters were set up. Food, clothing, and biosafety equipment were arranged for the families, and later they accompanied the return to their places; support was arranged for them to re-plant their crops.
Our 2021 Lenten Project continues Newman’s longstanding efforts to support our Sister Parish community. On a zoom call in November, Fr. Dan, Emily, Yvonne, and I participated in a webinar that updated us on our sistering community. We learned that family and community gardens were a major factor in sustaining families and communities who were struggling from both COVID and the storms. They continue to uplift families now. Wow! Our consistent commitment and long-term investment in gardens and training over these last 7 years are making a big difference over a long term.
In 2014, it was beyond our vision that the Lord could use the gardens funded by Newman to provide and care for our Salvadoran friends beyond their perennial struggles, much less those exacerbated by a pandemic and natural disasters. Yet, this is what has happened.
We have a chance to take another “step along the way, an opportunity to let the Lord’s grace enter in and do the rest.”* Our goal this Lent is $9500, with funds directed to gardens and youth training coordinated by the SHARE Foundation, and vocational training facilitated by Fr. Paul Schindler, the pastor at our sister parish. I encourage you to donate either through the envelopes on the table in the Gathering Space, or online at www.comonewman.org/lent.
“We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.”*
*(Prayer by Ken Untereiner, attributed to St. Oscar Romero)