Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Vital work of Guatemala Mission’s medical clinics receives generous support from parishes

by Donna Connell, for the Inland Register

(From the September 19, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

Recently, Sister Immaculata Burke and Sister Marie Tolle, both members of the Sisters of Charity of New York, reported on the health promotion activities and the finances of the medical clinics in our Guatemala Mission from July 2012- June 2013.

Sister Immaculata, a registered nurse, and Sister Marie, a catechist, began work in the mission in 1971.

Sister Immaculata has been very ill this past year and has had to cut back on her activities in the health clinics. Despite illness, however, she is still engaged in helping Sister Marie with the administration and reporting for the clinics.

The mission’s Health Team includes the director, Dr. José Miguel Vasquez, who joined the team in 1985; Sisters Immaculata and Marie; and trained health care promoters. Their statistics are impressive.

This past year saw the team prepare 45 midwives and 20 young leaders. They held classes for 1,500 mothers of families. They also evaluated Mayan medicine (with midwives) and visited and supported the sick with prayer and health care. They vaccinated 481 children against childhood diseases, consulted with 3,315 individuals, and aided 907 pregnant women.

Modesta Brigida Noj Xaminez (right) is a health promoter in Nahuala

On-site pharmacies dispense medications free or at affordable prices. Representatives from the Health Team regularly attend meetings of coordination with the Public Health Ministry of Guatemala and with other health organizations.

Our donations allow Dr. José Miguel to stay and minister to the people in this poor area. He is a native of the area, received his medical degree at San Carlos University, Guatemala City, and speaks the local language, Quiché. Dr. José Miguel is married with three children, one of whom, Robinsson, has graduated from medical school and is currently a first year resident in a hospital in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Dr. José Miguel’s daughters, Susan and Irma, are both attending college in Quetzaltenango. His wife, also named Irma, recently retired after teaching for many years.

During the last fiscal year (July 1-June 30), we were able to honor our commitment to send $2,500 each month, or $30,000 for the year, in support of this much-needed program. We are so very grateful for the financial support of several parishes: the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Mary in Spokane Valley, St. Mary of the Rosary in Chewelah, Sacred Heart in Springdale, Holy Ghost in Valley, and St. Patrick in Pasco. Those contributions and the contributions of many individuals help support the medical aspect of the mission’s ministry.

Donations from parishioners and organizations in the Spokane Diocese accounted for 49 percent of the medical program budget, which includes Dr. José Miguel’s salary and car expenses, clinic staff salaries, medicines and medical supplies, and electricity. Payments by patients comprised 44 percent of the budget, with the remainder covered by donations of others from outside our diocese.

Dr. Jose Miguel Vazquez

Due to inflation in Guatemala, the Guatemala Commission has increased the 2013-14 budget by 5 percent over last year’s budget, and so we prayerfully ask all donors to consider increasing their donation.

In addition, we are seeking additional parishes who will consider making an ongoing financial commitment to this ministry. If you can help or would like more information for your parish, call (509) 924-1346.

For more information, visit the mission’s web site:

(IR photos courtesy of the Guatemala Commission.)

(Connell is chair of the diocese’s Guatemala Commission. Donations in support of the mission can be sent to: Guatemala Mission, P.O. Box 1453, Spokane, WA 99210-1453.)

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