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


Guatemala Mission programs thrive through support, commitment

by Donna Connell, for the Inland Register

(From the January 16, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

Dr. José Miguel Vasquez checks in a child and mother for the Immunization Clinic in Ixtahuacán in the Guatemala Mission.

We were privileged to observe an immunization clinic during our November trip to the Spokane Diocese mission in the Guatemala Highlands. Gregario Cusildo Joj Cux, health care promoter, led everyone in prayer as about 20 mothers with children and Dr. José Miguel awaited the vaccines to arrive via a Ministry of Health representative. Children were meticulously checked in with proper paperwork and charts. Babies were weighed and vaccines were given. Vaccines included polio, measles, mumps, and rubella.

The Ixtahuacán clinic is the smallest of the four clinics in the mission area. Dr. José Miguel rotates between all clinics, while trained health care promoters care for patients in his absence. During our stay we were able to visit with Sisters Immaculata and Marie (of the Sisters of Charity of New York) at the convent, and tour the other three clinics in Nahualá, New Ixtahuacán, and Novillero.

This was only one of the many unique and heart-warming experiences we had as we traveled with five other people from the Spokane area in November.

Children attended Our Lady of the Highway Preschool one afternoon, during their vacation, to participate in a special lesson taught by teacher, Elena Dionisio Chavajay.

On Sunday, after Mass at Santa Catarina Church in Ixtahuacán, over 400 children who participate in Religious Education classes presented a wonderful program for us, including song, dance, and Biblical drama. The children walked in from 14 different communities surrounding the village of Ixtahuacán.

Several of us traveled with Father David Baronti as he drove over winding, rocky mountain roads to outlying communities to celebrate Masses. Father Baronti is a priest of the Spokane Diocese who has served in the Guatemala mission for decades. On two occasions, Mass included First Communions and, after Mass, house blessings.

All was not play for us! While in Ixtahuacán, we painted two classrooms in the Father David Baronti Primary School. We were joined by two local men and observed by several children. The principal, Catarina, was so grateful to have the ugly and peeling school walls painted that she insisted on preparing a chicken soup lunch for us.

We also enjoyed hearing from the staff at Nawal Estereo radio, who discussed their work on a 20-year plan for Nawal Estereo. They are the most-listened-to radio in Western Guatemala because 90 percent of what they broadcast is in two indigenous languages. The remaining 10 percent of the station’s content is in Spanish.

November is vacation time for schools in Guatemala, so we were not able to visit Colegio Nahuala or the seminaries; however, we did visit with Bishop Gonzalo de Villa SJ and discussed these programs. We are planning to tour the schools during our February trip.

While in New Ixtahuacán, we met with Adela Tambriz, on-site director for the Family-to-Family program; observed women weaving with back-strap looms; and toured the new lake/fish hatchery being developed by Family-to-Family.

Everywhere we went, people thanked us and all of the people of the Spokane Diocese for sending financial assistance that they so urgently need. Please continue to pray for these wonderful people as they pray for us daily.


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