2008 PARTNERS IN MISSION NICARAGUA I: NARRATIVE REPORT
Thanks to the Partners In Mission Nicaragua Oversight Teams, the NCCF and to each individual who has helped through prayers, donations, fundraising, mailings, organizing our data base, the Lay Pastoral Ministry Project has been a very significant and important Mission in sharing the Good News with the poor of Nicaragua in 2008.
Ø WATER PROJECT PROCESS
o LA GARNACHA
Upon returning from Cincinnati this past June I visited the La Garnacha to see how the Water Project we started back in March of 2007 was evolving.
To my delight, after meeting with Fr. Patrick and Brother Joe Barnett, I learnt that the Community had followed up on the Workshop on Community organizing we initiated in 2007 to motivate the La Garnacha community to seek a solution to the water problems that plagued their community and affected the health of their kids, especially during the dry season.
The Good News is they were able to organize themselves and with the assistance of local municipal organizations obtain financing. They got to work and overhauled the outdated tubing system, amplified the spring box according to the recommendations of the Water specialist from Living Waters and Amigos for Christ, who I had taken there on previous visits.
The cost for the workshop and facilitators were paid for in agreement with the donation that came from the Richmond Virginia Dioceses. This Parish was the first group to initiate the H20 Project, in partnership with Colleen Branger. Colleen is a fellow classmate who I partnered up to do an ART project on the Water Issue (Action – Reflection – Transformation) as the practicum for a Course on Catholic Social Teaching.
The balance of the funds raised by this Parish will be invested in a new water project that can potentially benefit over 1000 families. I will keep Colleen and her Parish informed on the progress and distributions of those funds. I personally financed all the transportation costs separately to honor the %100 for water condition from that donation. This has been the longest and most challenging home work assignment in my life!
In the process I have learned a great deal about the issue of Water Privatization and how Water projects work and are funded. I have researched and found the “preferred” way to go about this sort of Mission in the future. In a nut shell, most big organizations pay for expensive engineering studies as a first step and often have high overhead costs. The cost of those studies often reduces the amount raised for water improvement significantly. Even though these studies are often necessary, many times they are not. In the future, for others who are interested in implementing this project can go to: http://www.theh20project.org
Implementing a Water Project is not simply a matter of sending in the specialist to drill a well for the people, take some pictures and send them home to the donors. What is always more important is that the people become the main actors, organize and implement the project, or the result can be abandoned wells. Often times the people cannot afford to pay for the diesel or electricity to keep the water pump functioning. So, one important criterion is that there be a Community organizer who can do the follow up on the maintenance needs and water conservation education. Follow up is the key to a successful water project.
My plans for the future are to work in coordination with Amigos for Christ who have specialists in the area of well drilling and community organizing. In the future all funds raised for water can go directly to
IMPORTANT NOTE: My work in the area of Water Projects is a follow up to my Catholic Social Teaching Course. My main work is in the area of Faith Formation. I fund all the trips to these locations according to what my schedule and budget allows me.
Ø FUTURE WATER PROJECT:
o PALAGUINA COMMUNITY WATER PROJECT
The future Palacaguina Commuity water project is located in a Parish run by the Divine Word Missionaries. This is where I plan to apply the remaining balance of the Richmond Virgina Diocesis Fund. There is also a group from Mother Mercy High School who desire to implement the H2O Project and donate the proceeds to Nicaragua. We are in contact via email.
I have met with this community a few times and have begun to build a working relationship with them, as well as realized some Scripture reflections related the issue of Water in the desert. More information will be coming in 2009.
Ø CATHOLIC YOUTH BIBLE MISSION 2008 – 2009
This is where I have been spending the most of my time. I now have networks in numerous Latin American Countries of young people who desire to learn about and become a part of the wonderful effort to share the Good News with the poor via the First Continental Wide Biblical Mission. The Countries that I am striving to broaden this Mission include are: Honduras, Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba, Chile and in a few ther Central American countries. In Nicaragua we have four Catholic Institutions already participating in the Catholic Bible Mission.
Why Bibles?. Because for me the area of faith formation is the most important work that I can do transform the root causes of poverty. Over the past 16 years I have been living and working in Latin America, I have learnt that the best programs, which make a real and lasting impact are those that are organized from a faith based – people and social oriented – Gospel awareness approach. I believe that with the Gospel at the center you can change and transform poverty.
Over the past three and a half years I have been working in this direction. My convictions have been confirmed from Pope Benedict XV on down to the Nicaraguan youth on the Street corners. This conviction has also been confirmed by the last Cardinals Synod and during the 2007 Continental Ecclesial Bishops Conference held in Brazil, also in numerous other declarations which request that: "we invest time, money and talents in order to improve the area of faith formation with a special focus on Youth and Scripture. I was please to discover this and felt confirmed in the direction I have been dedicating my life, time and energy.
o MOTHER CABRINI HISCHOOLS
The series of Introductory Scripture courses I did this past year for the Teachers of 3 Inner City Mother Cabrini Highs schools were well received and approved. They have asked for the Courses to continue in 2009, along with the implementation of the 2009 Catholic Youth Bible Mission. We are in the planning process of implementing this Mission right now. There are over a 1000 students in their Inner City High Schools, most of who would have very little or no quality Scripture Courses without our Partners In Mission Nicaragua effort.
o Our Little Brothers and Sisters Orphanage (see: www.nph.org)
In the Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos Orphanage, I organized and led a number of Retreats both with the directors, staff and youn people this past year. I taught two courses a week in their Half Way programs located in Managua. The last weekend of each month we organized and led a small Team to work in the area of Faith Formation with over 80 of the 350 kids on the Island of Ometepe.
We have also initiated the production of a booklet on the life and testimony of Fr. William Wasson, the founder of this Orphanage. We currently are in the planning process for 2009 in developing a Religious Education Plan with the directors and Bishop of the Dioceses, as well as a schedule of activities for the coming year.
o MT. TABOR PARISH
The Mt. Tabor Parish is located where Damarys, Chris and I live. See: http://patduffyjr.blogspot.com/2008/08/our-little-community-in-nazareth.html
Over the course of the year we have made friends with the local Pastor, the Parish Priest and some of the youth from the Parish. This past year we led two Retreats for the youth groups who seek to form part of a Team that will implement the 2009 Catholic Youth Bible Mission in the Parish. Most of our time in this area (where we live) is made up of our simple, daily Nazareth life: just being a friend, visiting neighbors, occasionally organizing some educational activities (when time allows) and Birthday parties for neighbor kids.
Ø SUICIDE BOOKLET DISTRIBUTION
This past year I began the distribution of the Booklet we published in 2007 on Suicide. It has been reported to being selling, at a symbolic cost, both in Managua and the Rural Parishes where the TEYOCOYANI Team has offered it, along with the other materials they produce in the area of Faith Formation.
In 2009 I plan to distribute this booklet in all of the Dioceses of Nicaragua via the Curia and Caritas. Sadly, on each of my last two visits to the La Garnacha Community I received the sad news of two young people who committed suicide.
Ø CHARLES DE FOUCAULD LAY FRATERNITY
Our small Charles de Foucauld Lay Fraternity was able to celebrate the Eucharist once a month and participate in a Desert Retreat at the end of the year. Little by little, more people are becoming interested in joining our group. The Charles de Foucauld Lay Fraternity group is our life line; it is our small Christian Community that strengthens us for the journey and for our efforts to live the Gospel faithfully in our daily life. To see who we are go to:
o The Charles de Foucauld Lay Fraternity Continental Meeting of the Americas:
From January 4 to the 12 I will be participating, as the Nicaraguan representative, in the 2009 Continental Wide Charles de Foucauld Lay Fraternity Meeting to be held in Santiago, Chile. During this week we will be reflecting on the theme of: the meaning of our vocation today, as lay followers of Charles de Foucauld in the Americas. If you are interested in seeing more about this group, the International Team has put up a Website to share this event and the reflection material. See:
I will be going to participate, as well as to help in the translation in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
CONCLUSION AND GOALS FOR 2009 - 2010
To conclude, as my friend, mentor and Lay Theologian, Jose Argüello (founder of TEYOCOYANI Center for Ecumenical Faith Formation) has said: “what you are doing is of vital importance for Nicaragua, but it is like trying to move an Elephant. You need to tell your folks at home how important your efforts are, in spite of not having lots of instant results to present. The Church here moves slowly due to its complicated history . . . What we are doing is some thing much deeper and will take generations to see the fruits. You have to hang in there. It took me three years here to just find a few Parishes that would accept my proposals. We have been working at this for 15 years and only now are we beginning to see some fruits… You are doing a great job, keep on with the mission. All the support you need will come because of the great cause you have decided to dedicate the rest of your life towards. I commend you; you have done a great job. Keep it up! ”
Thank you for your help and for being a part of this effort to build up the Body of Christ and the Kingdom of God.
GOALS FOR 2009:
Ø 2009: Raise $30,000.00 for NCCF Partners In Mission Nicaragua Fund.
Ø Implement the 2009 Catholic Youth Bible Mission
Ø Develop and implement the Faith Formation Plan for the Our Little Brothers and Sisters Orphanage.
Ø Organize and form three Charles de Foucauld Lay Fraternities, with 3 – 4 core leaders.
Ø Complete Water Project by the end of 2009.
Ø Distribute the remaining Suicide Prevention Booklets in all Dioceses of Nicaragua by the end of 2009.