Lisa Cimino on a hilltop in Honduras with members of the Lexington Catholic Community in February, – Courtesy image (c) 2017 all rights reserved – Click to view larger image

Submitted by the Lexington Catholic Community

Over the recent February school break, Lisa Cimino of Bedford traveled with the Lexington Catholic Community on a mission trip to Honduras. The travelers worked with the mission of the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation at the parish of Santa Rosa de Limao in Guaimaca.

“Being in Honduras was truly a life-changing experience,” said Cimino upon her return to Bedford.  “Honduras is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere and due to an increase in extreme violence support from missionaries has been on a decline. I was so inspired by the 4 Dominican Sisters who work tirelessly on behalf of the poor. A highlight for me was visiting the barrios where the poorest live. I brought a Polaroid camera with me so I could offer the families photographs of their children. The gesture was so small and yet they were so appreciative.  I am so grateful for the experience and look forward to returning next year.”

Others in the 10-person group included Paul Lukez, Emery Wilson, Frank Bellini, Bruce Jackan, Lorain Marquis, Tom Trometer, Mary Trometer, Jack McGaraghan, and Amy McGaraghan.

Comprised of the united parishes of  Sacred Heart and Saint Brigid, the Lexington Catholic Community has been supporting the Honduran Mission in Guaimaca, Honduras since 2004. This support comes in the form of monetary donations, supplies, and volunteer labor.  Donations support the Centro Maria Poussepin, a girls’ high school where girls from the surrounding rural communities can obtain an education in a safe environment, inaccessible to many young women in Honduras. Support also goes toward a busy medical clinic and a local farm, providing health care, education, employment and a model for agricultural advances for the people of Guaimaca and the surrounding communities. Each year a number of parishioners spend a week working on these projects with the Dominican sisters and the people of Guaimaca. The financial support that comes from Lexington represents a vital part of the mission’s budget, helping to provide health care, education, and other opportunities for people who would otherwise go without.

Support also goes toward a busy medical clinic and a local farm, providing health care, education, employment and a model for agricultural advances for the people of Guaimaca and the surrounding communities. Each year a number of parishioners spend a week working on these projects with the Dominican sisters and the people of Guaimaca. The financial support that comes from Lexington represents a vital part of the mission’s budget, helping to provide health care, education, and other opportunities for people who would otherwise go without.

“This year our group brought generous donations from Lexington and friends and families, along with almost 100 pounds of medications, used eyeglasses, and yards of donated fabrics,” said Amy McGaraghan. “The week was spent working alongside a Honduran construction crew helping with the construction of a dental clinic and working in the clinic providing assistance in the pharmacy, providing Reiki therapy, a form of alternative therapy that promotes stress reduction, relaxation and healing and gynecologic care.”

At the end of the week, the group visited a nearby mountain community, home to a chapel built in honor of a former student of the mission high school. The chapel was designed and built by volunteers from Lexington with donations from Lexington along with others from the United States. Aptly named  “Clamor de Paz,”  Cry of Peace, it is both a memorial and a symbol of the hope and faith of the community. It memorializes the senseless death of a promising student at the mission high school who, along with her brother, was shot in her own home. These two, like many others, became victims of the violence that is an inherent part of Honduras’ pervasive drug trade. The chapel is also a symbol of the hope and faith of the community, the sisters who minister to these communities, and the volunteers who have felt called to respond to the deep needs of the area. “As volunteers, we brought much with us and hoped to give to the community of Guaimaca,” McGaraghan said. “We left with so much more.”

The Honduran Mission is currently run by a group of Dominican Sisters — Marta, Maria, Therese, and Olga. The mission had its inception prior to establishing a relationship with Lexington. In 2000, Cardinal Sean O’Malley,  then Bishop of Fall River, MA, established a Mission in Guaimaca, with nuns from the Dominican Order of the Presentation in Dighton, MA.  Honduras, was at that time, and remains, one of the poorest countries in Latin America and is marred by the world’s highest murder rate. The country suffers from an extraordinary disparity of income distribution. The country boasts a range of natural resources and exports over 8 billion dollars worth of mostly coffee and bananas to the United States and other counties. Despite this, over half of the population lives in poverty and per capita income is one of the lowest in the region. The average yearly salary is about $4,000 a year. The needs of the country are great and improving education and health care will be necessary to lift the country out of poverty.
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ho.html

The mission has grown over the years and currently provides high school education to over 60 young women selected from the surrounding communities, mostly mountainous locations. Some of these young women walk two to three hours from their villages to spend the week in Guaimaca living and studying with the sisters. In a country whose poverty is rivaled in this hemisphere only by Haiti, where most people obtain no more than a fifth-grade level of education, graduating from high school, learning to speak English is a privilege. The mission in Guiamaca allows us to help support the kind of changes that one step at a time

“The mission in Guiamaca allows us to help support the kind of changes that one step at a time will help to change the world,” concluded McGaraghan.  “The Lexington community can play a role in making the world a better place by supporting this incredible mission.”

To find out more about the mission, to participate in future missions, to donate please visit HonduranMission.org.

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