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 doctor comes to Spokane for busy round of presentations, visits

by Jerry Monks, for the Inland Register

(From the May 24, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)

From the moment he stepped off the plane on a Thursday evening, until his departure nearly two weeks later, the Spokane Diocese limelight was focused upon Dr. Jose Miguel Martínez. And although Dr. Jose’s time in Spokane was packed with meetings, visits, formal presentations, talks, and even homilies, his warm and inviting personality could not help but surface as he spoke. The applause he gained from the many groups and congregations affirmed how warmly Spokane welcomed the native doctor from Guatemala.

Dr. Jose was met at the airport by his long-time friend, Msgr. Arthur Mertens, who had once served in the Spokane mission area in Guatemala. The two men had not seen each other for some 15 years. Jose Miguel had continued his education with Msgr. Mertens’ encouragement. The next day the monsignor and the doctor made a presentation to the residents at Rockwood Lane, a retirement community in Spokane.

By the end of his first weekend in Spokane, Dr. Jose had been introduced at St. Thomas More Parish, given talks at the Saturday evening and Sunday Masses at St. Mary Parish, and met with several Spokane parishioners who had recently come from Guatemala, or were soon on their way there. He also enjoyed reuniting with his longtime friend, Kateri Caron, whom he had worked with in Guatemala.

After a Monday morning breakfast with Bishop Skylstad, the doctor’s week included tours of Sacred Heart Medical Center and the Veterans Administration Hospital, the House of Charity and its clinic, and a presentation to members of St. Mary of the Rosary Parish, Chewelah. He also visited the hospital in that town.

Thursday evening was a talk at St Mary Parish in Spokane, where he presented Bishop William Skylstad with a hand-painted award from the Bishop of Sololá and clinic staff in Guatemala.

The steps of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes provided a highlight of the doctor’s visit: a perfect vantage point from which to view Bloomsday’s 45,147 participants as they raced by. Twenty minutes later he was speaking to the congregation at 9:30 Mass. In this, as in other talks he made, he expressed his sincere appreciation for the help that the Spokane Diocese continues to give to the medical programs for his people.

Although his week seemed filled with joy, a sad note came on Sunday when Dr. Jose learned of the shooting of Sister Barbara Ford in Guatemala. She had supported his academic work and encouraged him to return to serve his people. “She was like a mother to me,” he said.

During his visit, Dr. Jose learned a great deal about Spokane and the people and parishes that support his work in Novillero and Nahuala. And Spokane was graced with the confirmation that its support is in such competent and Christ-centered hands.

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