I am happy to report that the first meeting of the newly formed El Salvador Mission subcommittee met on June 10 2014. With the gracious help of Suanne Gettings this was all possible. The parishioners that attended were as follows:
These people plus Suanne and myself had a very productive hour getting to know each other and getting familiar with so of the issues facing the Missions of Padre Rafael Fuentes as he continues to help the poor in this country get a better education at the Catholic Grade School he has formed since 2009. That school now made up of 165 students and 11 teachers for grades K-9 will be the focus of this ministry for the foreseeable future. There are many issues to address such as helping with tuition for some of the students, developing a proper accounting system for the school, improving the curriculum in such areas as computer skills, library, music, science carpentry and baking. We also want to develop programs that can help people in our community get to know the teachers and students at the school. We will attempt to develop a PenPal program and a more person scholarship program. We also want to put develop a better outreach program by using the vast internet. Towards that end we will be developing a website that can be used by all people to get to know about the Padre's Missions not just in our church but also the many people he knows around the country.
As the list implies there are many issues we could address. We decided to start with a few of them. They will be as follows:
1. Water for the classrooms- The committee will continue to support the great work that has been done by the CREED students at our church. The program last year netted over $400 that was sent to the school to buy jugs of water for each of the classrooms. The teachers and children are grateful for this help. In addition to this, the Summer Bible school will be collecting money again this summer during their session. We are grateful for Joan for supporting and implementing this program for the school
2. Padre Fuentes Visit. I have just been informed that Padre Fuentes will be coming to the states from August 21 until August 29th. His visit here is always busy. The Kent Ohio Newman Center has been helping the Padre for many years and so he will be visiting them. He also will be celebrating a baptism of child just born to a good friend of his who moved to the states two years ago with her husband. So we will work with him on his schedule to have a gathering or party or pot luck at our church during that time. He is so grateful that we will be helping him with his missions.
3. The need to develop a website for him to advertise his missions has never been more important. Do that end the Padre has contracted with a company in San Salvador to help construct that website. We will have the responsibility of helping to develop that structure and content. Arlene Murrin and Suzanne Laird have volunteered to help in this endeavor. Our goal will be to come up with a workable website by August 1 2014.
4. Pen Pal program. We briefly touch on this. We decided to work with the upper grade CREED students this year as well as the students at the St Matthew Grade School to begin this very personal contact program with the children from El Salvador. Details to follow.
5. Mission trip to El Salvador- The group felt that this would be a good and worthy project to work on this year. To go to El Salvador and meet the wonderful people there and to see the accomplishments of the school and the missions of Padre Fuentes is a once in a lifetime experience. It is hoped that a mission trip of maybe up to 10 people would want to come on the trip. We will plan the agenda to include visits to the school, working with the children, maybe even the one that you may sponsor, teaching English to a group, working on some other speciality that you may know and visiting the poor whether they be in Aqua Caliente where the school is located or way up in the mountains where many live in adobe houses with dirt floors. Usually we bring baskets of food to these people. You will also go to some of the Masses that the Padre does for the poor in these mountain communities. I might warn you that you may have to ride in the back of a pickup truck on very bumping roads. More details as the year progresses.
5. Scholarship Program. This year I stated that there are 165 students enrolled at the school. The tuition for each student is $25.00 per month for 11 months. There is also a book fee of $65.00 a year and each student must buy a uniform. There are 60 students this year that are enrolled but cannot pay this total tuition. Since the Padre thinks that a good Catholic Education is the best way for the children of El Salvador to get out of poverty he has offered them the one-half tuition scholarship program. He is asking them to pay $12.50 a month. The rest must come from people in all parts of the world that might want to sponsor a child. Towards that end the Padre and I have developed a program to reach out to people in the states that would like to fund this tuition program.
We are asking a total of $150 for the school year to sponsor a child. The sponsor will receive the name and a little story about that child and their family. It is also hoped and encouraged that the sponsor begin to write to the student. I have set up a program to allow this to happen. It is through this process that the sponsor will want to truly develop a relationship with the students and just maybe even come down to El Salvador and meet the child.
So that if the content of our first meeting. it was great to see the enthusiasm of the group. Of course we can always use more help. We are always asking for a little of your time and whole lot of your talents in this mission. Hope to see more at the next meeting. In the meantime call Suanne Gettings or Jim Nugent at 614 353 5285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace in Christ.