Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará
Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará
In August, five sisters from the Juniorate traveled to Guyana for the first time to participate in two parish missions. While the IVE priests and seminarians have made several trips in the past, only with the recent establishment of a convent of sisters in Charity has there been the possibility of receiving a large group of visiting sisters and a number of lay volunteers. Sisters Mary Ark of the Covenant, Maryam Sub Diloo Ki Malka, Mary Mother of Light, Maria Theotokos and Maria Espejo de Paciencia went for the mission, and Sr. Paciencia stayed on as a permanent new member of the community of sisters in Charity. We also were blessed to have with us several lay volunteers, three of them are sisters of some of our religious sisters: Juilianna Whiting, Nicole Ganzenmuller, Marlene Araza; as well as Kelly Faltus, a visiting nurse.
Kamwatta, Santa Rosa
The first mission preached by Fr. David Vidal, IVE was held between August 4-11 in Kamwatta, a small village belonging to the mission of Santa Rosa in Moruca (the North West District) along the Pomeroon River. This town is accessible only by boat and has limited electricity. The Amerindian people of the region are predominantly Catholic and have maintained both traditional means of construction and farming as well as a warm and very generous cultural tradition. The mission included children's oratory (games, songs, talks, snack time and crafts), youth group (discussion groups, singing, and preparation of campfire and flowers for Our Lady), home visits to all the village and surrounding islands, as well as the central mission preaching during daily Mass. It was beautiful to see the large crowds at the 4:00 PM daily Mass and preaching; the community usually only has Mass on two Sundays of the month since the two parish priests must care for over ten chapels. Every evening the whole town gathered for the traditional "campfire" with controversies on topics of the faith, songs, dances, and skits. The youth group performed beautiful songs accompanied by guitar and linked each song to provide unbroken music as the children danced and the adults sang along and clapped. The mission ended after many Confessions, a Rosary Procession and with the baptism of four infants. The graciousness and kindness of theses people made a lasting impression on all of the missionaries.
From August 12-19 the sisters, seminarians, and lay volunteers held a mission in Charity on the Essequibo Coast. This town has a high school, established businesses, and is accessible both by boat and by car. Since it is also the center for the "market day" and a trading point for smaller rural communities, it has a far more busy and traditionally Guyanese quality than Kamwatta. The mixture of West Indians, Guyanese of African descent, and Amerindians who have moved in from the small towns is reflected in the cuisine, music, and religious backgrounds. It is not uncommon to see prayer flags flown in the front yard of Hindu homes, green star and crescent symbols integrated into the wrought-iron gates of Muslim residences, and rosaries hung from the rafters and front porches of Catholic families. Most days we ate curry and rice, and often had roti and other Indian foods and flavorings brought to the country by the West Indians who migrated to Guyana in the 1830's as laborers.
The trucks, loud music, and dense population provided a ready mission field and striking back-drop for the daily Rosary Processions lead by the children singing in front, followed by the boys of the youth group carrying the statue of Our Lady, and completed by the parishioners and young people praying the Rosary. The mission also included the traditional method of daily children's oratory, youth meetings, and mission talks as used in Kamwatta. The home visits were conducted both on foot and by boat and led by members of the youth group who grew in courage and love for their Catholic identity as they accompanied the missionaries to every home in the neighborhoods--Muslim, Hindu, Protestant or Catholic.
The mission was also marked by the preparations of parents, godparents, and youth for Baptism. On the last day Fr. David baptized 37 infants, children, and youth--ranging in age from two months to 18 years-old. Some entire families of 7 children were baptized. Along with the many Confessions, Holy Communions, and return to prayer, we especially give thanks to God for the abundant graces of the Baptisms.
Returning home, the missionaries continue to pray for the people and parish communities of Guyana as well as the priests and sisters who are living there as their permanent mission. We give thanks to all those who supported this mission by their financial donations, by the many supplies people gave us for the children, and by their prayers. May the Lord continue to lead and increase His flock among the Guyanese souls for their salvation and His greater glory.