From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Guatemala church needs replacement for missing bell

by Marge Brewer, for the Inland Register

(From the March 22, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)

The readers of the Inland Register are surely aware of the problems caused in our Guatemalan Mission area by the rumbling, sliding earth and the wind and rains of Hurricane Mitch. The church and much of town of Ixtahuacán, which is served by Father David Baronti, was badly damaged, but the nearby land, which has produced food for the families for hundreds of years remains suitable for farming, and the church is nearly rebuilt.

However, more damage was caused by a serious disagreement between factions regarding the relocation of the town than by the forces of nature.

As a result, a great many of the villagers have established a new town, ChuiPatan, at a much higher elevation and closer to the highway, but a long walk from their corn fields. Most of those who resisted relocation are respectable brave elders. Those living in neighboring cantones also remained near their land.

Naturally, such a traumatic decision lead to the escalating alienation of the population, even within families. Both sides claimed ownership of the beloved 17th century statue of Santa Catarina and all of the other church furnishings.

After many bitter exchanges the sterling silver tabernacle and candle sticks dating to the 1600s, the silver-clad statues, vestments, Holy Oils and even the bell — “the voice of Santa Catarina” — were taken to ChuiPatan.

A small wooden statue has been carved; hand-woven cloth covers the area on the altar where the tabernacle once stood; vestments have been made; new Holy Oils have been obtained; but a town siren cannot replace the bell. On behalf of these faithful people of Santa Catarina, Father Baronti is asking for funds to buy a new bell — not just a ringing piece of metal in a church tower costing $2,000, but a reminder that God is in their midst, a voice calling them to worship, and even their beloved Santa Catarina greeting them in the morning and calling them from their fields in the evening.

Can you spare a few dollars this pay period to help our struggling sisters and brothers in a far away and suffering land? The hills are steep, the land reluctant to give forth its corn, but the presence of God is everywhere reflected in the faith of the people. This Lent let’s unite our small sacrifices to give them a bell to sing the glory of God and the joy of the Resurrection!

Cost of replacing the bell will be about $2,000. Contributions should be sent to: “A Bell for Santa Catarina,” Spokane Guatemala Commission, P.O. Box 1453, Spokane, WA 99210-1453. Please do not try to send contributions directly to Guatemala.

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