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

Donna Borsos touched the lives of the poor in Guatemala

by Jerry Monks, for the Inland Register

(From the March 21, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)

Donna Borsos, the energetic and talented volunteer who spent much of the last six years of her life in the Spokane Mission area in Guatemala, died from cancer in Toronto Feb. 12.

An unconventional, independent, and sensitive young woman, Donna was able to draw on numerous inherent skills in her work with the Mayan Indians of the Guatemala highlands.

A Canadian by origin and accent, Donna’s background seemed a perfect preparation for her work in Guatemala. Although she had studied art at Simon Fraser University and obtained her credentials in teaching, it was her love of the outdoors and the desire to do something for others that motivated her.

Donna adapted easily to the high altitude and mountainous terrain of northern Guatemala. She soon became absorbed in the Mayan culture, learned the Quiché language, and even wrote a book describing Mayan images – and translated it into Quiché. Using her skills as sculptor, wood worker, and cook, she conducted classes for both the young and the old, teaching those without means how to live in the modern world without giving up their own culture. Her classes ranged from carpentry sessions in Tzamjuyub to bread baking and craft courses for the people in Ixtahuacán.

One of Donna’s last projects was to finish a life-sized wooden statue for Father David Baronti’s church in Ixtahuacán – a statue that Father Baronti says has since become a treasure for the people.

A friend wrote that Donna lived a life many of us wish we had the courage to live:

“It’s entirely appropriate that Donna’s labour of love, her exquisitely beautiful sculpture of Santa Catarina should now reside, larger than life, in that little Guatemalan church. It was carved with skill and love and pain and sorrow and it may be a gift to the people of the village, but it’s also a testament to an enriched and talented life. Donna reminded me of how I should be living. I only wish I had known her longer. And better.”

As might be expected of one so inspiring, yet so pragmatic, Donna’s last thoughts were of the people she served. Before her death, she asked that in lieu of flowers, friends direct remembrances to the people of her home-away-from-home, in Ixtahuacán. Several Canadian friends have sent checks to the Spokane Diocese’s Guatemala Commission to be used to help the people of Ixtahuacán, people whom Donna loved and served for so many years.

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