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 mission community begins construction on new parish center

Story and photo by Jerry Monks, for the Inland Register

(From the Dec. 16, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)

Over 100 volunteers responded to Father David Baronti’s call for help pouring cement for the second floor of the new parish center for Santa Catarina Parish in Ixtahuacán, Guatemala. (IR photo from the Guatemala Commission)

How might you entice over 100 volunteers to be up at dawn and spend hour after hour carrying very heavy buckets of sand, gravel, and cement?

With Father David Baronti, the answer is: simply ask.

Father Baronti is the Spokane Diocese priest who has served the Quiché Indians in the mountainous village of Ixtahuacán, Guatemala, for 34 years. The largest structure in the village is the beautiful Church of Santa Catarina.

In its 400 years of existence, the village and surrounding area have been subjected to hurricanes, earthquakes, and landslides, and 30 years of civil war. Through the years, the Church of Santa Catarina has stood out like a beacon of faith and hope to the people of the region.

During the past several years, the church has undergone a rebuilding project to install steel beams to protect the structure from future earthquakes and landslides. That project is nearly completed, and now Father Baronti has embarked on a new parish center.

The new center will house the parish office, library, and youth meeting room. It also will include a large auditorium and a Marian center. On the second floor will be rooms where visiting clergy and others can stay overnight – especially important, since there are no hotels in Ixtahuacán.

With the help of volunteers from his parish, and a nominal amount of funding from supporters, Father Baronti has already accomplished a significant amount of construction for just $30,000. The same facility built in the United States would cost many times that amount.

Asked how he was able to convince 125 men of the community to come out early one November day to mix and pour cement for the second floor of his building, Father Baronti said, “I just announced it at Mass the week before.”

For Father Baronti, getting the manpower is easier than collecting enough funds to complete the project. After construction itself is completed, the center also will require chairs, tables, and other furniture.

Contributions can be made to the Guatemala Commission, Diocese of Spokane, P.O. Box 1453, Spokane, WA 99210-1453. Please be sure to designate “For the Ixtahuacán Parish Center” on donations.

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

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