Sister Parish & Sister Parish Committee
Our sister parish relationship with Our Lady of the Angels in Nicaragua is a vibrant, active and inter-active relationship, where we at St. Edward’s support, affirm and encourage the good work that is being done in our Sister Church and its community.
We sometimes do projects with the community in which they initiate and invest their own time and person power. We add what we can to help them accomplish their goals – sometimes the time of volunteers from our parish working alongside people from their community, and sometimes monetary support to add to their own.
Our primary goal is to build, maintain and enrich a wonderful relationship with them, where they come to know who we are – and they pray for us continually especially when we have specific needs – and we come to know them as people of great faith within circumstances of great poverty and challenge. All the other things we may do with and for them is only to make this relationship stronger, because we can never alleviate their poverty. We learn so much about how to depend upon God and live celebratory lives from these incredible people.
Involvement in the Sister Parish Committee is for anyone who would like to share the common bond of faith with our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua and learn about their lives and culture. This can be accomplished in various ways. There are trips to our sister parish in Nicaragua, Nicaraguan visitors who come here, and mini-projects throughout the year at St. Edward’s Church. This committee has random meetings each year and is very much an internet facilitated entity. Information and photos are shared via email during trips and throughout the year.
You are invited to join the Sister Parish Committee. We look for people who want to find ways to communicate better with this community, to enrich the relationship, and to sustain our sister relationship with them.
We also invite you to consider traveling to Jinotega to meet the wonderful people of our sister parish and to represent St. Edward’s to Our Lady of the Angels by giving them faces to associate with St. Ed’s, allowing them to retain their dignity and thank us in their own way while showing what they have to offer to us as part of our reciprocal relationship.
You may also be interested in hosting people who occasionally visit from our Sister Parish community. In the past that has included two different priests, Padre Duglas & Padre Eliar, Victorino (the head of the non-governmental organization we work with), and Vilma, one of the Pastorales de los Infermos (Pastoral Ministers).
To get involved or learn more, contact the parish office at (952) 835-7101.
Sharing Our Experiences
Read From Nicaragua: The Alen Gregario Story
2016 Photo & Journal Entries: See photos and read about the people Sue K. met on her visit in Spring, 2016
Moises Bismark Chavarria
Yarling Antonio Blandon
Read what others have said about this truly humbling and inspiring experience of God’s love and of relationship:
“The reason I continue to be involved with our sister parish in Nicaragua is because I see the needs there and I have family friends and parish of St. Ed’s here who would like to help in a meaningful way. There needs to be a connection. I am the bridge between all of you and them. I was also interested in helping the poor, but the side benefit of all my visits and projects there is that I have experienced phenomenal personal growth and made friendships that will last a lifetime. I am amazed at the joy and love the people exude even in the midst of their poverty and pain. They are truly happy to see us and they feel special that we have come all that way just to see them. Each trip I take is special, different and the people I meet a true blessing to me.” – Sue K
“The important thing in our Sister Parish relationship is not the “presents” but our “presence.” – Padre Douglas Araica
“I feel that people of Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles have given me so much more than I have given them. What an honor that they let us into their lives so completely. – Becky
“Every day I am in awe of the strength of these people. They humble me in their constant connection with God, starting everyday conversations with: “Yes, isn’t that wonderful! Thanks to God,” or “If God wills it…” I am in awe when the head of the organization of volunteers helping one another says, “Sometimes I feel guilty that I have such a nice home, when some have such horrible living conditions,” (and his home is more or less like a glorified garage by our standards). I am in awe when Vilma has the prisoners in the jail in tears by her prayers, words of encouragement and of God’s love.” – Mary Pat
History of the Relationship
The sister parish relationship between The Church of St Edward and Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles (Our Lady of the Angels) in Jinotega, Nicaragua began in 1987 during the second half of the Contra Sandinista war. Our idea was to let them know we were with them spiritually in their struggles during this very difficult time. Since that time we have tried to maintain a spiritual as well as a financial relationship with them. We began helping with various liturgical and social projects after visiting and seeing the challenges they face because of the extreme poverty in that area. It’s impossible to visit them and then turn our backs on their poverty saying only: “We will pray for you.”
The next step after beginning a spiritual and friendly relationship is “faith in action” which includes the many social projects we have tried to help with. Many of the peasants there are coffee pickers and like our migrant workers they work day to day during the harvest and then scratch for their living the rest of the year. The government tries to help solve these problems, but Nicaragua is a poor country and they need outside help. In 2000 we began a relationship with AVODEC, a non government grass roots organization which was already operating and who agreed to help us complete various social projects to benefit the community. AVODEC stands for Asociación de Voluntarios para el Desarrollo Comunitario. Volunteer Association for Community Development.
In 2008 we were accepted as a partner of Feed My Starving Children and we now receive two 40′ containers of Mana Pack food. This is a great blessing to us and those living in extreme poverty in the city and surrounding countryside. The food is donated and we pay the shipping. The food is stored and distributed from a warehouse in the church to our partners, helping to provide nutrition to those in need. Our goal is to continue to expand this mission in the future.
More than 60 people of all ages have traveled to Nicaragua in the past. Some have traveled four or five times. Many are looking for a way to share our common bond of faith, encounter a new culture, some travel to see first hand how our projects have been changing lives there. It’s definitely adventure tourism without the crowds of tourists. All go because they would like to help people, but all come back knowing without a doubt that they have been the ones who have received the blessings and their lives are changed forever. Our own Susan K. was interviewed by The Catholic Spirit in July 2016 about mission trips!
Though we emphasize focusing on our relationship with this community, we often find that pursuing certain projects which they initiate offers us a venue for being together, a way to interact more easily with the people, while at the same time supporting initiatives that help their poor community.
- Build and repair the main Jinotega church and also more than 25 chapels in the countryside.
- Donate accordions, keyboard, guitar strings and other musical necessities for worship.
- Have a dental clinic in the church with donations from the University of Minnesota and the family of parishioner Roger Schultz.
- Work with the Pastoral de los Infermos (ministers of the sick) who deliver packets of Feed My Starving Children (FMSC)
- Uncooked food to various poor families.
- We use the church facility to store the FMSC food.
- Youth retreats (Jinotega church)
- Mission trips
- Wells and water systems.
- Cook stove project (Subsidizing the cost of eco friendly, safer cook stoves that save money)
- Sports equipment for poor neighborhoods.
- Work together to receive containers and distribute FMSC food to appropriate community members living in extreme poverty.
- We subsidize administration costs of AVODEC.
- Subsidized the cost of solar lights. (People there pay a third of their earnings for light.)
- Oxen project (villages received a pair of oxen and they shared them)
- Cabbage and tomato project where families received seeds and after a harvest they were responsible for providing seeds for another group of families out of what they produced.
- Training of midwives
- Paid for a doctor to go with the priest to the countryside chapels when he went to celebrate mass.
- Shipment of clothes and medical equipment.
- Solar oven project.
- Seed project where the people receive training on how to manage their agricultural products.
- Computer school (We could use some more computers.)
- Toys for the disabled school and the hospital.
- Home construction
A Favorite Prayer
This is one of our favorite prayers. It truly tells the beliefs of our sister parish committee:
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
– Teresa of Ávila