Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

People of Ixtahuacán treasure community and love of prayer

by Donna Connell, for the Inland Register

(From the July 17, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

Father Baronti is seen after Mass in Pacorel, an outlying aldea in the area of Ixtahuacán, with catechists Lorenzo and Domingo. (IR photo courtesy of Donna Connell)

Father David Baronti, the Spokane Diocese priest who has served in the Guatemala Mission for the past 38 years, spent two weeks in Eastern Washington last spring. He visited and celebrated Mass at the three parishes in Walla Walla – St. Francis, St. Patrick, and Assumption – as well as St. Patrick Parish in Pasco and St. Joseph Parish in Colbert. He also spoke at the second Annual Guatemala Celebration, held May 21 at Barrister Winery, Spokane.

Emphasizing the importance of community life in Ixtahuacán, Father Baronti discussed the frequent use of the first person plural “we” by the Mayan people with whom he works. They anticipate the feelings and desires of their companions.

In the early years, the bishop of Sololá, Guatemala, questioned Father Baronti about the people, who were suffering from poverty, who would send several men to see him, when one would have been enough. The bishop, over time, came to appreciate a community life so intimate that would not think of dividing a person from the group on any occasion.

Father Baronti also mentioned how people in the aldea of Tzucubal maintain contact, even though physically absent. People of the aldea, because of the phenomenal growth of their parish population, recently asked permission to build an addition onto their church. About 50 men, who had moved to the United States, were not only still in contact with their home community but with each other via telephone. Because of that contact, they were able to raise the amount that was needed for remodeling their church.

Father Baronti finally talked about the wealth that his experience with the people of Ixtahuacán has brought him. Besides their trait of truly living as community, the Mayan people also share a love for the Word of God that causes them to listen mostly to religious programming and ignore any other news or music on the radio. They also share a love of community prayer, to which most devote hours weekly in addition to Mass. Father called himself blessed to live and experience the people of Ixtahuacán. He would not trade that experience for any other in the world, he said.

He invited the people of the Spokane Diocese to become part of the Guatemala Mission programs. He quoted Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Evangelium Gadium (“The Joy of the Gospel”) (198): “They (the poor) have much to teach us… We need to let ourselves be evangelized by them.”

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