St. Columba’s 2017 Lenten Almsgiving Appeal will support Friends of San Lucas Mission, helping the Catholic Mission of San Lucas Toliman in Guatemala. Nine members of our parish have participated in three medical mission trips over the past couple of years and have witnessed the great work being carried out there. The Mission was served by Fr. Greg Schaffer, starting in 1962. Over the decades he developed medical services (clinics and a hospital), a primary school, a coffee cooperative, a women’s center, land distribution, and various community outreach and sustainability projects. After his death, Friends of San Lucas was created to carry on Fr. Greg’s legacy.
Please visit the mission’s website for a wonderful overview of this organization: www.sanlucasmission.org
. Some details from the website can also be found below. A well-known saying in Guatemala (and a favorite of Fr. Greg’s) is “Together, we can!” Thank you for supporting the Friends of San Lucas Mission with your Lenten Alms.
Here are some ways to give:
- Create your own “rice bowl” at home - perhaps a favorite bowl or basket could be used to collect your almsgiving throughout Lent.
- St. Columba will have “rice boxes” at the back of church during the beginning of Lent, while supplies last.
- Donations may also be made by check to St. Columba (memo: San Lucas Mission) or by making a donation electronically (select the Online Giving option on our home page).
- On Holy Thursday, all will be invited to bring alms donations to the altar during the evening service.
- St. Columba School will be participating as well with various projects.
For additional information please contact Outreach Commission member Jacqui Gibbons (518)265-0345.
The Mission serves the town of San Lucas and 20 surrounding villages with a combined population of approximately 45,000 people.
The health problems are those associated with deep poverty: infections, chronic lung conditions, nutrition problems, TB, etc. The Mission supports a 65-bed hospital which is open 24 hours per day; it served more than 14,000 patients last year. The clinic serves 50-100 patients a day. San Lucas Mission has developed a Health Promotor program which trains local community citizens to deliver preventive and therapeutic care to the villages. The Mission provides coordination and assistance with visiting teams of physicians, nurses, and therapists who perform hospital surgeries and visit the surrounding villages to provide medical and dental care.
The elementary school was founded in 1967 by Father Gregory and a group of religious from the Sisters of Notre Dame. It was the first school in the San Lucas area that made education viable for Maya children. The school, Colegio Monsignor Gregorio, serves children from pre-K through 6th grade, with a student population of approximately 550 students. The school is served by 31 dedicated members of the faculty and administration, many of which attended the Mission school during their elementary education.
This was one of Fr. Greg’s last big dreams. The Maya women of the region hold a crucial role in bestowing the culture to the next generation. This center was born of an appreciation and respect for the role of the woman in Maya culture. It allows Maya women to come together in a space where they not only can share in community and traditional customs but also can learn important new skills. They gain insight into topics such as self-esteem, domestic violence, women’s health, prenatal care, nutrition, women’s rights, gender equality, and finances.
Housing & Stove Projects
The Housing Project seeks to address the land ownership disparity by providing a dignified place to live for those without. The Friends of San Lucas Mission builds homes for people who cannot otherwise afford them, continuing what Fr. Greg started. The construction operation hopes to build one home each month. They have also built a new road, put a new roof on a school in Santa Teresita, and accomplished many other construction projects. One such project is replacement of antiquated stoves in individual homes with fuel efficient stoves. The Stove Project began in 1994 and addresses several important needs within the community. The new stoves provide sustenance, a source of heating, improved safety, and improved health.
Land Distribution Program & Coffee Cooperative
Over the past 50 years, the Mission has worked in various ways to return ownership of land to the Maya people, thus helping them to produce their own food and a means of developing agricultural productivity or “cash crops” through the Land Distribution Program. The Mission’s Juan Ana Coffee Program is part of this concept. It helps provide a level playing field for small coffee producers by enabling a just return for high quality coffee. This coffee processing operation buys almost 600,000 lbs. of coffee from hundreds of farm families, at a price that is 20 percent above the world market price, so that these families can have a living wage. The Mission sells more than 40,000 lbs. of that coffee in the U.S. Café Juan Ana can be purchased on the website: sanlucasmission.org.