Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Venezuelan Mission Support is a way we Live out the Eucharist

Last weekend, we celebrated the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, and one of the

effects of the Eucharist is that it helps us to open up our eyes to helping our brothers

and sisters in need, for we are all equally loved by God. Our archdiocese lives this out

in many ways through charity, which our funds support each year through the Catholic

Services Appeal, but also through ongoing contributions to help the less fortunate.

In 1970, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis resolved to establish a mission

in Latin America as a response to the directives of Pope John XXIII.

Currently, our archdiocese supports the parish of Jesucristo Resucitado with a parish

priest, Fr. James Peterson, and we have ongoing efforts to help those in need. And if

you’ve seen the news of late, the needs in Venezuela are great. An estimated 65,000

people people live in the 11 distinct barrios or neighborhoods within the parish.

This part of Venezuela suffers from high unemployment. The unemployment rate in the

parish of Jesucristo Resucitado is an estimated 73%. High unemployment is the main

cause of domestic violence, delinquency, high malnutrition, alcoholism and prostitution

that plague much of San Felix. At the parish of Jesucristo Resucitado, the Archdiocese

of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is responding to the spiritual and physical needs of the

people.

In 2001 Bishop Richard Pates, auxiliary bishop from Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and

Bishop Mariano Parra, bishop of the Diocese of Ciudad Guayana, consecrated the new

church of Jesucristo Resucitado Parish. In 2006, construction was completed of a

church and parish center containing a medical clinic, dentist office, medical laboratory,

computer center, youth room and various classrooms for catechesis, as well as for

teaching people skills to start their own businesses.

Lay volunteers from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis have been active in

different projects over the last 40 years. The parish center at Jesucristo Resucitado has

a fully furnished apartment which can house up to 12 guests. Groups from various

parishes across the archdiocese have visited and worked on a regular basis, as have

students from High Schools, the colleges and seminarians from St Paul Seminary.

In sharing the love that the Lord has for each of us, we continue to walk together as

brothers and sisters, as members of the Church in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and

Minneapolis and in the Diocese of Ciudad Guayana, sharing the gifts and talents we

have been blessed with and building the friendships that have been growing for 40

years.

The archdiocese helps to minister to the spiritual and physical needs of the people.

Every weekend there are seven Masses celebrated in the parish – two Masses in the

church and five in the barrio chapels. More chapels are needed so Mass can be

provided for the people in their own neighborhoods.

The parish center has space to address medical needs of the people with a medical

clinic, dentist office, and medical laboratory. However, more funding is needed to

support this too.

So, too, does the archdiocese help with education. The parish center provides space for

a computer center, youth room, and classrooms. They teach catechesis and the basic

skills to people to start their own businesses. At the parish center people have taken

classes on baking, cake decorating, cutting hair, basic accounting, basic computer

skills, and pharmacist assistant among others. Additionally, the daycare center is under

remodel to serve as a study center with access to the internet for the youth in the barrio

of Campo Rojo.

The parish also feeds people. The soup kitchen prepares 150 lunches Monday through

Friday for mostly children and elderly. Around 70 people eat at the soup kitchen and the

rest of the food is delivered to people’s homes.

The parish also collaborates with the neighboring Salesian parish of Don Bosco which

runs a home for abandoned and homeless boys. This home is located in our parish and

is currently home for 12 boys ages 11 to 18 years old.

As you can see, the parish we support has endless needs. On the front lines of service

here is Fr. James Peterson. Over the summer, he is spending weekends at parishes in

our archdiocese to offer Mass, and share in his homily about the good work but also the

need that is needed to continue this work to help our brothers and sisters in Christ in

Venezuela. This weekend, he will be here at Saint Joseph’s to celebrate all of our

weekend Masses.

One of the things that has been so uplifting about being here at Saint Joseph’s is to see

the generosity of this parish in so many ways, in our support of the Services Appeal, to

the scores of volunteers, to the financial generosity of so many that helps our parish

continue to provide ministry. Thank you for welcoming Fr. James this weekend and for

your generous support.

Have a blessed week,

Fr. Paul

PS – Much of the content for my article this week was taken directly from the

archdiocese website. For more information on the mission, check out the website at

http://venezuela.archspm.org/.