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

Reduced parish support curbs progress in Guatemala Mission activities

by Jerry Monks, for the Inland Register

(From the Nov. 11, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)

Financial support from parishes of the Spokane Diocese for mission activities in Guatemala continued to decline over the past fiscal year ending June 30, 2004. Despite a reduction of over 15 percent from the prior year’s budget, contributions to the Guatemala Mission still failed to meet program expenses of $70,320 for the 2003-04 fiscal year.

For the year ending June 30, 2004, parish and individual contributions made directly to the Diocese of Spokane for support of missionary activities in Guatemala were $56,662. That was $11,155 less than the previous year’s income. Insofar as the 2003-04 income offset only 81 percent of budgeted expenses, the Guatemala Commission was forced to make further reductions in the current 2004-05 Guatemala Mission budget.

The shortfall will be affecting several programs. Support for the seminary in Sololá, Guatemala, fell to only 30 percent of its budgeted expense of $5,400 during the past fiscal year. As a result, funding for seminarians in Guatemala is being reduced to $1,800 for the current year.

Reductions are also being made in the catechist program – contributions covered less than 50 percent of expenses – and in the Catholic School in Nahualá, which received only $5,888 in support of an $8,760 budget.

Other reductions are taking place in the budgets for health and clinics, salary, and youth programs.

For the most part, parishes with a history of support for the poor in Guatemala remained faithful in their contributions during the 2003-04 fiscal year. Unfortunately, the participating parishes represent less than half the parishes of the diocese, even though all parishes are urged to contribute on a regular basis – even if it is a small amount. The commitment to the poor in Guatemala stems from Sister Diocese agreement signed in 1960 by Bishop Bernard Topel on behalf of the Parishes in the Diocese of Spokane and Bishop Angelico Melotto of Sololá, Guatemala.

St. Augustine Parish, Spokane, provided $5,262 of the $5,888 received for the Nahualá School. The other $626 came from three individual donors.

The bulk of support for the health and clinic programs was from St. Mary Parish, Spokane Valley ($10,499), the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes ($3,600), St. Mary of the Rosary in Chewelah ($2,448), Holy Rosary Parish in Pomeroy ($1,400), and St. Agnes Parish, Ritzville ($138). Additional support came from Spokane’s Assumption Parish ($2,000), through the Family-to-Family program that was also channeled directly to clinic needs.

Our Lady of Fatima, Spokane ($2,640) and St. Patrick Parish, Walla Walla ($1,772) provided salary support for the Sisters working in the Spokane Mission – Sisters Immaculata Burke, Marie Tolle, and Mary Bertrand. Other funding for the Sister’s salaries came from the donations of St. Patrick Parish in Pasco. Their total of $13,837 provided vital salary and pastoral support. St. Rose of Lima, Cheney ($542), Sacred Heart, Tekoa ($300), and St. Agnes, Ritzville ($114) also helped with pastoral support.

Sacred Heart Parish of Pullman continued its funding of the radio station in Nahualá ($3,384), and St. Patrick of Walla Walla ($300) joined with St. Patrick of Spokane ($1304) in support of seminarians. A donation of $1,000 from Immaculate Conception of Colville helped in both the school and youth programs and in the health programs.

As in previous years, some funding was channeled directly to Guatemala to meet specific needs. Our Lady of Fatima provided assistance to Sister Mary Bertrand, and St. Thomas More maintained its support of the Family-to-Family program.

Finally, individual donations made directly to the Guatemala Mission constituted about 4 percent of the total support. They were of significant help, especially in the health, pastoral, and spirituality programs, and are much appreciated by Father David Baronti and the Sisters who serve in Spokane’s mission to the Third World.

Parishes who are not currently supporting the mission, but are interested in initiating some help, may contact the Guatemala Commission at the diocese’s Catholic Pastoral Center, P.O. Box 1453, Spokane, WA 99210.

(Jerry Monks is a member of the Spokane Diocese’s Guatemala Commission.)

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