Greetings to all from the Mission!

Venezuela Virgin of the Valley Celebration

This month is a biggie in eastern Venezuela with the very large and festive celebration September 8 of la Virgen del Valle (Virgin of the Valley) celebration of our Lady’s apparition on the Island of Margarita where a lot of our people come from.

Virgin of the Valley Mass

The vacation bible school was a big gift for our little ones and families to encounter Jesus and form our teens in service to their younger parishioners!  Everyone is trying to relax as best they can before school starts.

I have done my best to hold down the fort while Fr. Greg is in the U.S. for some weeks.  It is always a grand challenge to respond to the constant demands that are all asking to be met immediately with little to no preparation time and no thought as to the future. One very difficult area in this regard are the funerals.  Yesterday we buried the 2nd son to die a brutal death by gunshot as he was involved in one of the worst gangs in the whole area. Nobody is baptized in his family and his mother asked me if that had anything to do with the horrific deaths of her two young sons. I gently said that baptism is definitely what God is inviting them to. Last Saturday the St. Vincent de Paul society went to this home to console them after the murder of their first son and were greeted by the second son.  The next morning he was killed. I start to get a little better sense of St. John Paul II’s constant emphasis on the immense dignity of the human person after he saw so many lives wiped away before his eyes during such bloody years of Polish and world history. We thank you for your prayers for this family and so many others who live moment to moment trying to figure out how to take the next step.

In the midst of this immense darkness continues the bright light of so many who do have the joy of the Holy Spirit as they participate in the mission, in prayer and service of their brothers and sisters.  We just watched the movie of St. Vincent de Paul’s life in the barrios in honor of his feast later this month, and the ending line is our great hope: “among many of the poor you serve, some will spit, curse and be mean to you, which means you need to pour out even MORE love on those in particular!”  May we all follow that wisdom.

Peace and blessings to you all, Pdr JA