St. Joseph Honduras Mission
For Fr. John Antony's letter to the parish on May 20, 2012, about the upcoming mission trip, click here.
Our Lord Jesus never spoke more plainly or more pointedly than when He said, "Whatever you do for these least brothers and sisters of mine, you do unto me" (Mt. 25:40). Jesus was serious about helping the poor. But Our Good Lord wasn't just giving a command, He was presenting an opportunity: when we reach out to help others, we are the ones who are truly blessed. That is the hope hidden in our Honduras Mission. We will encounter a mutual blessing: as we bless the people of Honduras with the treasures God has given us, they will bless us in return with the riches they have in abundance. And in the bargain, God will be glorified!
Why Honduras? Honduras is the second poorest country in Latin America -- second only to Haiti. Reaching out to help them is truly helping “the least brothers and sister of the Jesus." Moreover, Bishop Luis Sole, Bishop of Trujillo, has a relationship with the Diocese of Little Rock through others mission efforts, and so there is a working relationship between the two bishops, and the two Dioceses. In 1998 Hurricane Mitch devastated much of Latin America, especially Honduras, and St. Joseph Church rushed to the rescue. God planted the seeds of this mission effort in St. Joseph Church back in 1998. But also of significance is that Fr. John Antony participated in two mission trips while associate pastor of Christ the King in Little Rock. He fell in love with the people of Honduras, and would like St. Joseph parishioners to experience that same love. In the end, it is the love of Jesus.
What are the Mission Goals? We have two goals: (1) to help create a new parish in Ilanga, Honduras; and (2) to provide medical, construction, evangelization and educational assistance.
(1) The Honduras Mission Team met with Bishop Luis Sole in March, 2011, to share our desire for missionary work, and to seek his guidance. He directed us to the parish of St. Isidore the Worker (San Isidro Labrador) in Tocoa, Honduras, which covers an area roughly the size of the I-540 corridor, and includes over 120,000 Catholics. Three Jesuit priests provide the pastoral care for this vast area, much of which is mountainous and accessible only on foot. Bishop Sole hopes we can contribute toward the creation a new parish, effectively dividing the current parish into two, making pastoral care more readily available. Thus, Bishop Sole wants us to help him create a new Catholic parish in his Diocese; what an extremely exciting enterprise!
(2) More specifically, we will focus in 4 areas: (A) medical, (B) construction, (C) evangelization, and (4) education. The Medical Team cooperates with the local medical professionals, looking to assist them with our own medical experiences, expertise and equipment. The Construction Team, after hearing the needs of the Hondurans, provides labor and materials to make physical improvements. The Evangelization Team works with the local catechists and religious education leaders to promote the faith by sharing our love of Christ and our resources. Finally, the Education Team studies the complex reality of education in Honduras, and finds ways to make education a priority.
What is a "missionary spirit"? For three years, Jesus prepared His apostles before sending them as missionaries into the world, providing them principles that would guide their apostolic activity. Four fundamental principles shape our "missionary spirit". (1) We will be humble; avoiding a "know-it-all" attitude. We have as much to learn -- probably more! -- from the Hondurans as they from us. Jesus taught, "For you have only one Teacher, and you all are brothers and sisters" (Mt. 23:8). (2) We will first and foremost listen to what the Hondurans tell us they need, and avoid imposing our perceived needs upon them. What appears to be "poverty" by American standards may surprise us and be what Jesus taught us to embrace when He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit!" (Mt. 5:3).
(3) We will judge the results of our mission by the quality of the work we do, rather than the quantity of the work. That is, we will not worry too much about how many patients we helped, how many cement floors we poured and walls we painted, or how many rosaries we distributed. Rather, we collaborate with the mysterious ways of the Holy Spirit. Remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus: "The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit" (Jn. 3:8). The best measure of a successful mission is if we were able to smile through the whole week. Finally, (4) we want to enable, enhance and empower the Hondurans to become more self-sufficient and avoid whatever creates dependency.
When is the Mission? Tentatively, the first mission will be in June, 2012, and conducted annually. The missionaries will travel from Saturday through Saturday, a total 8 day trip.
What is the Cost of the Mission?
Missionaries are asked to pay for their travel, lodging and meals, as well as contribute some money toward the materials of the mission itself, approximately $1,200. Scholarships are available, but remember the funding for the mission comes from the missionaries themselves, as well as generous parishioners.
Who Goes on the Mission? Everyone should go on the mission! The Honduras Mission provides a unique opportunity to experience the love of Jesus: both by sharing it as well as receiving it. While we encourage St. Joseph parishioners first and foremost, we welcome non-parishioners to join us, as well as our non-Catholic brothers and sisters. We encourage every form of collaboration in helping the poor.
How Can I Help? If you cannot go on the mission, you can be a "spiritual missionary" by
Praying for the missionaries and the people of Honduras,
Providing a scholarship for someone else,
Soliciting materials or donating materials,
Securing storage for mission supplies,
Securing transportation for mission supplies,
Studying the tremendous theology behind the Church's missionary activity.
Where Do I Find More Information? Please direct your questions to Dr. Jim Gorman, Mission Director, and Elizabeth Rivenburgh, Project Manager at .