Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

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 missioner asks for love ‘outside the box’

Story and photo by Jerry Monks, for the Inland Register

(From the June 12, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

Father David Baronti talks with a woman in the remote village of Ixtahuacán, where he has worked for the past 28 years. Ixtahuacán is one of the poorest villages in the mountainous region of Northern Guatemala. The woman is asking Father Baronti if he can find some way to help her family. His ability to help in situations like this rests largely upon the support provided by parishioners of the Diocese of Spokane. (Photo by Jerry Monks of the Guatemala Commission)

“Today’s business executives must think outside the box,” says Father David Baronti, who is currently visiting Spokane from Guatemala. But, he continues, “our challenge as Catholic Christians goes beyond that. We are called to love outside the box.”

Father Baronti has been representing the Spokane Diocese in the poorest area of Guatemala for 28 years. His six-week visit to Spokane is giving members of several local parishes an opportunity to hear, in person, the words of this Spokane missionary whom they frequently read about in the Inland Register.

During this year’s annual visit to Spokane, Father Baronti has spoken at Masses in St. Augustine and St. Thomas More parishes in Spokane, as well as Assumption Parish in Walla Walla. His message has been clear, challenging, and well received.

If we are to follow Christ’s command of reaching out to convert all people, then we must extend our love beyond those with whom we live to people outside of our customary “box,” he says. And especially to those who are in need.

Conversion and change do not typically stem from internal factors, he tells his audiences. It takes an outside influence to initiate change. The clergy and Religious (priests and Sisters) who have served in Guatemala, along with the economic help that has come from the Diocese of Spokane, have enhanced the lives of thousands of Guatemalans over the years.

“However, the benefits flow both ways,” says Father Baronti. The very act of giving enhances the spiritual life and holiness of those who work in and support the mission. This process of helping change the lives of the Guatemalans by giving of ourselves is an act of “loving outside the box.” Moreover, he says, by extending our love to the poor we also grow in the love of Jesus.

In addition to speaking at a limited number of parishes, Father Baronti is meeting with members of the Spokane Council of Ecumenical Ministries, the Guatemala Commission, and various Sister Parish organizations. He returns to Guatemala on June 25.

(Jerry Monks works with the diocese’s Guatemala Commission.)

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