February 27, 2014
Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, the church in our sister parish community.
Mary Pat Potts is in Jinotega right now! She will be there until March 7, leading several parishioners in a pilgrimage. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!
Our Thursday was jam-packed. We went out into the countryside with Padre Eliar and our friend and head of the Pastoral Ministers, Vilma.
We went to have a Mass with the campesinos of the Chapel at San Sylvestre de Patastillal. Money from St. Ed’s helped them finish this chapel, so families with children and elderly would not have to walk so many hours through the mountains to get to Mass. As one of our group put it, their dedication to make such a difficult journey just to go to Mass (something we take for granted and may sometimes even complain about) made her want to cry. It can be very emotional. These very poor people are so appreciative for their chapel and the help that made it possible!
They even announced on the radio that the people from St. Edwards were coming (and the date and time) so people would know when and where to come to show their appreciation! While we sat up in front of the church facing them, they shared with us their prayers and their music with of all kinds of “mariachi” style guitars, trumpets, and accordions. They brought up used plastic pop bottles filled with water and statues and pictures for Padre Eliar to bless, then they sang some more songs. Finally, they put on a fine lunch only for us and their leaders.
All of this is important, though somewhat uncomfortable, in order for them to feel they are doing their part for us in this sister parish relationship and not only receiving — it honors their dignity. We all noticed how kind, polite, and welcoming they all were, even when they have so little. What they all give to their offertory is so much greater of a percentage of what they have, most likely, but still they give to the church. It is a very humbling experience. We try to be very present for them, noticing them, acknowledging them, making them feel respected and cared about. That’s part of what our pilgrimage is about.
We visited another chapel too. On the way back we visited Tepayac, the church of their beloved Padre Ordorico. He was a priest who was from Italy who came to serve a community right outside Jinotega (San Rafael) and did so many good works for the poor people there. He is very important for the people all over this region for how he cared for the poor. Our own Padre Eliar is part of a committee working toward canonizing him as a saint. It is very important work to him. We saw Padre Ordorico’s tomb. They say that when they moved his body to this tomb after being in a different tomb for over 16 years that his body had not decayed — a miracle. So people pray to Padre Ordorico to intercede for them for their needs. When their prayers are answered, they bring back a tiny pin — symbol of their answered prayer — and leave it at his tomb in thanksgiving. There were many such pins. Some of us prayed at his tomb as well and may have to return one day with our pins of thanksgiving!
When we returned, tired as we were, we went to the one year anniversary of the death of our hotel owner’s mother, where we prayed the rosary with them and participated in the celebration. A long day — but another wonderful step on our pilgrimage journey.
Peace — MaryPat