On June 30th, I returned with Deacon Bob, Jay Flood and 12 others (including two recent SVF school graduates, Francisco and Lorenzo Moore, with grandfather, Frank) from our mission trip to the Guatemala jungles, where we endured a week of hard labor, building picnic-style bench-table combinations for the students at the Father Tom Moran Vocational School in the place called “Ak’Tenamit” [“New Village’]. Actually, while they labored with hammer, saw, nails and bolts in constructing these vital pieces of furniture in the ever-expanding school (current population of 600+), I taught practical English to a select number of students preparing to serve in hotels and restaurants of that country, thereby avoiding a perceived need to flee their country and to try to enter ours (legally or illegally). We also had fun performing the Do-Re-Mi song from the “Sound of Music,” as part of an ”examination” program for some 400+ students present after the Mass in the multi-purpose building. All of these young men and women were so willing to learn from and assist us in our efforts to help them establish a better way of life in their own land that they begged our Knights to return next year to continue these projects.
Our trip is also a spiritual journey, with daily recitation of the Morning and Evening Prayer of the Church, the Rosary and celebration of the Eucharist (sometimes in Spanish) at our hotel, at the school, or in one of the Catholic villages that rarely sees a priest. How they truly appreciate our Knightly presence there is evident in how they receive us on each of these occasions. For example, the school choir rehearses the music for the liturgy days in advance of the Mass. In the village, the locals festively decorate the church as if it were a type of a Christmas liturgy, so thrilled are they with the opportunity of receiving Jesus in one of the rare occasions a priest comes to their modest chapel. Our visits coincided with the great feasts of June: Corpus Christi, Ss. Peter and Paul, the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, and Sacred Heart. In one town, the people meticulously placed flower petal arrangements on the street, depicting the Sacred Heart, the traditional IHS monogram, and other symbols. Wow! How beautifully they created these signs of love and devotion of Our Lord.
Thanks to the cooperation of several Palm Beach County Knights of Columbus, as well as our parishioners, the school procured a much-needed new 18 passenger van to ferry students in and around Guatemala to doctors’ appointments and employment interviews, to cart large bags of bean and rice supplies for the school’s kitchen, as well as to cart our whole group of Knights to our destinations. It replaced a dilapidating vehicle in which one could see the street through the rusting floorboard. Thank you for your support of all we do in Guatemala; you make it happen!
We welcome to our campus for the month of July, Rev. Dr. Rayanna Govindu of India, who returns for his fifth summer “tour of duty” here; and Rev. Dr. Radoslaw Rybarski, of Poland, for his first visit to Florida. They bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience in pastoral work and advanced studies in order to assist me while Father Danis takes a month’s vacation.