My friend John Donaghy, a long-time staff member at my current parish, has been in Honduras for the past few years assisting in the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán. Many of our students and resident parishioners have traveled there to serve for a week or two. I told John that hardly a daily Mass or student liturgy goes by that a spontaneous intercession (when they are invited) for Honduras isn’t uttered.
John sent me an e-mail earlier today describing some of his liturgical work. (Some of it’s repeated on his blog.) I asked if I could share it with my readers here, and he agreed, so here goes:
I just got back from a liturgy workshop at Dulce Nombre. The parish is doing a two year three-session prayer training first of all for the leaders of the Liturgical ministry in the villages and also for about 17 people who are in the process of becoming extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, as they call them here. It will also enable the villages to have the Eucharist in their chapel (when they have a secure tabernacle) and to have regular Liturgies of the Word with Communion.
57 people showed up. There was someone from every one of the eleven sectors of the parish, with people from early twenties (about 3) to over sixty (about 7).
My task, yesterday afternoon, was to give an overview introduction to the parts of the Mass. Now you first have to remember that most of these people have a sixth grade education – or less! So, my challenge was to make it as participative as possible and to get them to learn as much as possible. I think I succeeded in making it participative. If they’ll remember what I taught, that’s another question – though they have a 30 page booklet to help them go over the material.
What was really fun was having them sing hymns or parts of the Mass when we discussed them. When we got to the Great Amen they sang the usual one that is used here – The Lilies of the Field “Amen.” So I gave them a challenge – which I’ll have to reiterate – to have their village music groups write an “Amen!” If they do it, I may have to record them and send them your way.
While preparing for the workshop – and being with the folks – I remembered that some of the liturgy groups (LTP?) have some materials in Spanish. I’ll have to check that out – who knows, that may be a way to begin connections with liturgy in both places.
I’m fascinated and amazed on many levels.
How other places do liturgy: a great curiosity. The “Lilies of the Field Amen.” Imagine that. Hondurans appropriating a piece of American pop culture and singing that Jester Hairston tune. On one of his last visits to Iowa, I asked John about the music sung at liturgies in Honduras. He told me one local group has written a few songs. I think I asked about their composing for Mass. If they came up with something decent, I’d seriously consider using it at our liturgies at the student center.
The challenges of Catholics in rural Honduras seem very distant from Rome, or even our political American concerns about how other people receive Communion. One missioner told me that she was the first foreign Catholic a group had ever met. They had been visited by Baptists and evangelicals from the US, but never a Roman Catholic.
John’s post script on organization:
You might find the structure of the diocese interesting. Base ecclesial communities are the basic instance of the church. There are about 5000 base communities or communities like them in the diocese (in its 41 parishes). In each villages there is a church council which usually has a representative from each base community in the council. These are then formed into sector and/or zone councils with the parish council. Then there are the deanery council and the diocesan pastoral council (which has priests and laity). But within each the structures there is what they call here “The Triple Ministry” – prophetic (catechesis, preaching), liturgical, and social. And so there are persons in each of the ministries throughout the diocese!