Since 1963 we have been providing spiritual, medical, material, and community care for the native people of our mission areas, which currently include Mexico,Guatemala, Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, andthe state of Alaska. (Past missionareas, whosegoals wesuccessfully met,include Vilnius, Lithuania; Kisumu, Kenya; Ciudad Juarez, Mexico; and the Tala Leper Colony, Philippines.)
We established our first mission in Chiapas, Mexico in 1963, taking on the responsibility of the world’s largest parish, that of Ocosingo-Altamirano, home to the Tzeltal Indians, the poorest and most oppressed people of Mexico. Through our work of evangelization, the celebration of Sunday Mass, catechesis by hundreds of Mayan catechists, and translating the Bible into Tzeltal, the Church here is becoming an authentically Mayan Catholic community, close to the heart of the people. Particular support goes to Hospital San Carlos in Altamirano, which we opened in 1967 and continues today, serving 15,000 patients per year, with special attention to the elderly whose bodies are fragile and worn from years of relentless labor; babies with cleft lips and palates; children suffering from tuberculosis; teenagers with rotting teeth; and mothers with high-risk pregnancies. Our priorities include broadening the education and training of indigenous personnel; spreading awareness of preventative health measures; and making known the hospital’s presence and capabilities to those remote villages most vulnerable to disease. Recent support has also gone to earthquake relief in Ocosingo and San Cristobal.
We began our second missionary endeavor in Mexicali, Mexico, where our Friars have been preaching the Word of God and building community in one of the poorest areas of the diocese. Since 1995, we have constructed a parish church and three chapels. Home visits and a monthly food subsidy are provided for the elderly, sick, poor, and abandoned of the parish. Ministry among youth groups, choirs, and liturgy groups is growing and our new catechetical center provides indoor meeting space and classrooms. A more recent additional ministry has been dealing with the immediate and desperate needs result in g from deportations and the volatile drug market. Recognizing the essential need to offer hope for the future to the youth of our parish, we established Arco Iris, a lay movement which helps our otherwise angry, hopeless young people make good Christian choices in light of the messages, temptations, and resulting doubts they receive from secular society.
Besides evangelization, the defense of human rights is central to our work in Rabinal, Guatemala. Because we believe that education is the only way to bring about the economic, political, and social changes so desperately needed here, much of our funding goes to our college scholarship program, Jovenes Arriba. Established and still directed by our missionary Fr. Timothy Conlan, O.P., who has ministered among the Achi Indians for over 20 years, the program sponsors students in various career programs, especially agronomy, nursing, and computers, and helps them find a job after graduation. We also support various projects throughout 38 mountain villages: building adobe chapels for the celebration of the sacraments; constructing wells for water; sustaining a Maya/Achi bilingual school; maintaining women’s sewing and weaving projects/sales for their families’ daily sustenance; and staffing an educational center for the celebration of Maya culture within the Catholic faith.
Our Sisters in Ayene, Equatorial Guinea, where over two-thirds of the population survives on less than a dollar a day, work tirelessly to incorporate Dominican traditions of liturgy, worship, and education against the backdrop of an unstable and corrupt political climate. Our primary focus, besides assisting with the parish’s pastoral work, is in the area of education, supporting the school that the sisters run. It is the hope of all of us that eventually a better future for these children can be achieved-one where they can be allowed to grow in every sense, where they learn to live with mutual respect, where their dignity as human beings is acknowledged.
Since the summer of 2014 when ISIS forced the Iraqi Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, along with hundreds of thousands of Christians, to abandon their homes in and near Mosul, Iraq, we have been supporting them in their efforts to minister to their fellow refugees, helping them to alleviate the unspeakable living conditions imposed upon them in their displacement and now helping them in their return to Mosul as they rebuild their communities and reestablish trust and hope in the future.
The most recent addition to the reach of our missionary assistance is on our own country’s soil- the outlying and isolated native settlements scattered throughout Alaska. The state’s dioceses have long been unable to supply resident priests to many villages that remain underdeveloped and unconnected by roads due to their rugged, icy terrain and almost perpetually foul weather. The people go for long periods of time without Mass, the sacraments, or the counseling of a priest in time of need, and have felt quite abandoned by the Church. Our friars at Holy Family Cathedral Parish in Anchorage have made the commitment to extend their ministry to as many of the isolated Catholic communities as possible, and we have pledged our support in their struggle to fill this great and troubling gap. We also remain at the ready to support sudden emergency needs of Dominican-served areas, such as in Nigeria and Haiti.
For more information about the Dominican Missions Foundation- Western Province, please visit their website at www.dominicanmission.org.
To support the DOMINICAN MISSIONS FOUNDATION- WESTERN PROVINCE, please click on the button below to donate and either select your parish in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and/or type Group 1029 in the memo box. God bless!