Hola!  Thanks be to God, I arrived safe and sound as the new assistant priest serving with Fr. Greg Schaffer in the Archdiocesan Mission Parish of Jesucristo Resucitado in Ciudad Guyana, Venezuela! What a trip it is…both to travel here and to serve here.

I spent the last four years as a country pastor back in MN…and to arrive to this inner city experience…with 90 degree weather day and night…and mom and dad not so close to call on…has been eye opening to say the least!  God is good and so is Fr. Greg with all his experience and encouragement.

We are all so grateful for the prayers and sacrifices of so many of you back home that really carry us here. I have never before felt so connected to my brothers and sisters around the globe like I have at Jesucristo Resucitado. We just lean so heavily on support to try to play our part in making Jesus known and loved here. The prayers of so many are very tangible as we travel between our 11 barrios and some 65,000 parishioners.

The needs are great with so many having little or no work and such a heavy heart that violence is tearing through their streets and families. Within my first days here we had an attempted robbery of a staff member who was bringing funds to our home. Thank God, all turned out fine. But we have to be careful and sadly quite untrusting in many situations. It is humbling to think of how safe and nice I had it at the St. Paul Seminary when they tell me if you go running outside the seminary walls here you could have your shoes, cell phone and other items stolen off your person! So little by little we are trying to be instruments of the good Lord here.

With about the same number of laity as the Archdiocese as Mpls/St. Paul, there are only some 40 priests to serve them (and most of these from outside the country).  This year’s new class in the seminary here is bigger than they have had in the past which is hopeful. Come Holy Spirit! Some great signs of hope are the beautiful people and affection they have for each other. I am so edified and amazed at the greetings given and received by those we meet in parish gatherings.  There is great affection for one another and a genuine interest in how you are doing as a person. This is so striking coming from my USA upbringing of constant pressure to move faster and faster and get more on the to-do list checked off!  The children and their joy change everything!

That is all for now. God bless you all from here.  We hope to give monthly updates of life here.  You are welcome any time to visit.

In Jesus and Mary,

Fr. James, Fr. Greg and all the parish.