The world has created change in our relationship with the people of El Salvador
By answering Jesus’ call and recognizing ourselves as part of the Global church, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish embraced itself in a twinning relationship with the people of Rutilio Grande in El Salvador. For the past 17 years much has been accomplished. However, changes in the world around us have forced change in our ministry and how we manifest our call as Disciples of Christ. Before explaining what has changed, let’s first take a look back and celebrate the gifts of this walk with the people of El Salvador.
Where we have come from …
The beauty of a Sister Twinning Relationship is that it allows each of us to share our Catholic faith and traditions with those from another culture. Since 2006, our relationship has grown through our immersion trips to El Salvador and their trips to visit us. Lifelong friendships built upon love and mutual respect have been made.
We have worked together as disciples of Our Lord to address social injustices by developing sustainable programs for the people of Rutilio Grande and the surrounding communities, with the driving force of what is needed coming from them. Some examples include: transportation to Sunday Mass, education, micro credit loans, a computer lab, church repairs, nutrition and health initiatives for students and elderly, and more!
All of these efforts have been accomplished through our parishioner’s generous donations from our annual mission appeal. None of this could have happened without you. Let us celebrate these gifts of supportive aid and love shared.
What has changed …
The world as we know it now has forced changes upon our relationship with our brothers and sisters in El Salvador that are beyond our control. There is a new legislative bill in El Salvador requiring forms to be filled out before any foreign funds can be sent to the people. The consequences of not complying could place the monies you have donated in jeopardy of misdirection. The gang issue in El Salvador is very real. This is a time when it can be dangerous for a small village to come to the attention of the government or the ever-increasing gangs. “Do No Harm” must be a priority over all else. The gang situation has also made it impossible for us to travel there. Also, the inability to receive a guest visa now makes it impossible for them to visit us. The bottom line is that our relationship with the people of Rutilio Grande has become incredibly compromised and complicated with no easy answers in sight.
What happens now…
Those of us that have been privileged to be part of this ministry have met several times to prayerfully discern how we, as a parish, should move forward given the current situation. Out of love and concern, it has been decided that, at least for now, our connection with the people of El Salvador will take on a more regional approach. The funds donated this past year will be dispersed through the SHARE El Salvador organization, which has guided us during these 17 years, to create programs that focus on improving the quality of life for the entire region. Once again, we truly believe this decision is being made for the safety of the people that we hold so closely to our hearts. It is our hope that the solid foundation of sustainable programs we have helped establish with the people of Rutlio will see them through these tough times. We will continue to follow the political dynamics in El Salvador and look for new ways to offer our support. Our love for our brothers and sisters in El Salvador will never waiver. We will continue to hold all in close prayer and love.
It has been a true honor for us at Seton to walk in solidarity with these faith filled people. They have broken open our hearts and opened our eyes to this world filled with both injustice and great love. They have taught us what it means to be part of a global church and to celebrate our Catholic faith with a culture different than our own. We pray that the gifts gained from this relationship will lead both the people of Seton and the people of Rutilio Grande into places unknown, with a new appreciation of what it means to be disciples of Jesus.
There is a prayer written in memory of Oscar Romero, the assassinated archbishop from El Salvador. This prayer was written in celebration of the canonization of St. Archbishop Oscar Romero, composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Cardinal John Dearden in Nov. 1979. We believe that this prayer says it all. Allow us to close with his words in our hearts and on our minds.
It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts; it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something and to do it well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen!
Thank you for your loving embrace, support, and sharing of faith over these many years. Let us continue to serve one another in charity and love, together.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Pray for Us ~
Respectfully submitted by Jackie Konkol, Jayne Finn and Mary Nehrling
Father Rutilio Grande, S.J.
Beatification - January 22, 2022
This article first appeared in the SPIRIT OF SETON – SPRING/SUMMER 2015 – Linda Horning, author
Father Rutilio Grande, S.J. is the namesake of the community of our sister parish. Fr. Grande was born in El Paisnal, El Salvador and was ordained in 1959. He became friends with Oscar Romero, a fellow student in the seminary. After studying abroad in Spain, he returned to El Salvador and served as director of social action projects at the seminary in San Salvador. Fr. Grande was also prefect of the discipline and professor of pastoral theology in the diocesan seminary from 1965 to 1970.
In 1972 he became pastor of Aguilares and initiated a team effort which involved the formation Delegate of the Word. Delegates of the Word refers to a Catholic religious movement for and of the poor. They held long meetings every afternoon with the community, including group work, songs, prayers and Bible reflection. It was shocking for the peasants to speak and to be listened to. Once an old woman was asked what she remembered most about Rutilio, and she replied, “What I recall most, is how one day, he asked me what I thought. No one had ever put that question to me in all my 70 years.”
There was a common theme in Fr. Grande’s sermons. “We continue to struggle for a table for all which no one can monopolize.” The table refers to the land and other resources of El Salvador and the world. For him, the Eucharist represented “the greatest commitment, the symbol of a shared table, with a seat for each person and tablecloths long enough for all, the symbol of creation and for this, Redemption is needed” (Feb. 13, 1977). “God gave us a material world – for all, without borders.”
On March 12, 1977, on his way to offer Mass in El Paisnal, 48-year-old Rutilio Grande and his two companions, 72-year-old Manuel Solorzano and 15-year-old Nelson Rutilio Lemus, were shot down. He was the first of 17 priests executed by Salvadoran death squads.
Archbishop Oscar Romero was deeply saddened by the brutal murder of his friend and drew inspiration from his example. He said, “When I looked at Rutilio lying there dead, I thought, “If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path.
The Vatican announced the beatification date of Fr. Rutilio Grande as January 22, 2022. Pope Francis described him as a priest who “left the center to go to the peripheries.” This servant of God, this namesake of our sister community is now the Blessed Fr. Rutilio Grande!
Thanks to Seton’s generous sponsorship of transportation, our brothers and sisters from the community of Rutilio Grande attend weekly Mass at St. Joseph’s church in El Paisnal, where Fr. Grande celebrated Mass and is buried.
4 lessons from Rutilio Grande, priest, prophet and martyr
Click here for a link to an article from America, The Jesuit Review: "4 lessons from Rutilio Grande, priest, prophet and martyr"
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