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From DC to El Salvador, Bearing Gifts
| APOSTOLATE | NEWS
Father-son missionary trip touches hearts and brings joy to local towns.

Two young boys make friends with soccer, a universal language.
Two young boys make friends over the universal language of soccer.

January 11, 2010. Zaragosa, El Salvador. In spite of a one-day delay due to unseasonable snowstorms at the Dulles airport in DC, a group of 10 dads, 15 high-school boys, and 2 college students arrived to Zaragosa, El Salvador full of enthusiasm—and with bags full of gifts for the local children.

Their mission was to support the local parish priest of Zaragosa, who serves 30,000 people in 24 villages and is only able to visit each village once a month for Mass.

“Our mission was to help the priest by visiting three of his villages, promoting the Catholic faith, offering spiritual support, and bringing some light into their lives,” said Mike Coan, a missionary dad from Baltimore, Maryland.

During the three days of their stay, the missionaries woke up early for prayer, meditation, and preparation (including cold showers). After breakfast, they were off to the village by 8:30 a.m., where they split into teams and visited families. With the help of local interpreters and LTP boys who spoke Spanish, they introduced themselves,
missionaries in El Salvador
A group shot of the missionaries in El Salvador.
got to know the families, read from the Bible, and prayed together. They also handed out prayer cards and let the people know that a priest was in town, ready to hear confessions and say Mass in the afternoon. Meanwhile, the boys met with the local children to talk about their common faith and play soccer.

Fr Michael Sliney, LC, spent his afternoons hearing confessions and celebrating Mass in Spanish to overflowing chapels.

After the Mass, the missionaries distributed Christmas gifts to the children.

“Humberto Alvarado, our local guide and assistant to the pastor, thanked us for coming and told us we breathed oxygen into the villages we visited,” said Coan.

He added, “I think most will agree that we were given much more than we gave. It was a quick trip in one sense, but our days were full of activity and intensely emotional and spiritually fulfilling.”

Dignity and joy

Visiting the local people in El Salvador gave the missionaries a perspective on another way of life with its own set of challenges and obstacles. One little girl named Camila, only three years
el salvador, gifts
The missionaries brought gifts for the local children.
of age, was being cared for by her relatives and neighbors because her parents had been killed.

“To me, this exemplifies the harsh realities of the living conditions and their ability to overcome challenging circumstances with dignity and strong faith,” said Mike Coan, adding that the missionaries prayed for the girl and her parents in a special way.

David Wilder, another missionary dad, said that he will never forget the little children who made a special and unique connection with him, rarely leaving his side. He recalled a “tender moment” with a little boy, just awakened from a nap, who gave him a spontaneous gesture of love.

“He crawled up on my lap, put his arm around me, and offered a gentle kiss to my cheek. That was worth the entire trip and the daily cold showers!” said Wilder.

“They are a people full of life, joy, and dignity amid certain material deprivation,” he observed.

“The Spirit of God is clearly at work and I was humbled to be Christ’s instrument of salt, light and peace for the short time I was among so many smiling faces at Christmas time.”

To find out about upcoming missions trips from the DC area, contact Fr Michael Sliney, LC at msliney@legionaries.org. To learn more about the Leadership Training Program (LTP), visit the web site at www.leadershiptrainingprogram.com.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2010-01-13


 
 

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