In the Latin American projects we serve, Holy Week is a time for family, reflection, cultural traditions and ceremonies remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Luis Cocon, CFCA communications liaison for Guatemala, sends us pictures and an account of Holy Week as it’s happening right now in Guatemala.
Please note: Our Kansas City office will be closed March 28 and 29 for Holy Thursday and Good Friday.
A mystical feeling is in the air as Holy Week processions begin in the Guatemalan city of Antigua, set against a backdrop of colonial architecture, cobblestone streets and volcanoes.
Decorations and elaborate handicrafts adorn wooden platforms on which religious images are carried.
Janelle Stamm, accounting specialist for our office in Kansas City, was able to attend the installation Mass for Pope Francis with her daughter, Megan, as part of Megan’s high school senior class pilgrimage to Italy. Here are her thoughts on this historic occasion.
It’s been more than 40 hours since Papa Francesco was installed, and I’m just thrilled.
It. Was. Amazing.
Seeing the Pope up front, receiving communion blessed by him and sharing the entire experience with Megan is priceless.
After the Mass was over, the more than 40 participants on our pilgrimage swapped stories and pictures. Here is one of those stories along with the picture.
While waiting for the Pope to arrive, two of our high school senior girls, Kelsey and Virginia, met a couple who traveled from Argentina to Rome for the sole purpose to have their baby blessed. Kelsey and Virginia helped by handing the baby, named Joseph, to Papa Francesco.
The faith of this couple in Papa Francesco demonstrated by their sacrifice of time and money to travel all that way combined with the faith in others as they handed their baby over is humbling.
It has left a profound impact on all of us who have heard the story thus far and also contributes to my excitement about our new Pope.
Furthermore, it feels like Papa Francesco’s commitment to the poor aligns perfectly with CFCA’s mission. This alignment confirms my belief that the blessings I prayed for CFCA, our sponsors and our sponsored friends and families will be answered.
By Annie Vangsnes, CFCA correspondent
Kumbh Mela in India is the largest spiritual gathering on Earth.
The celebration comes to Allahabad, home to 617 children and families in the CFCA program, every 12 years.
It is a time for Hindu pilgrims across the country and world to gather to take a dip where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet. Bathing in the waters during the festival is believed to bring Hindus holiness and salvation.
An estimated 100 million people are expected to bathe in the waters during this Kumbh Mela.
For sponsored children and their families taking part, the celebration takes much planning and preparation.
Although the festival lasts almost two months, Suman, the mother of sponsored youth Vibhor, said she prepares to have guests for the six main auspicious days. Read more
Q. Does CFCA work with sponsored members from various faith backgrounds?
A. Yes. Founded by lay Catholics and grounded in the Gospel call to serve the poor, CFCA works with people from all faith traditions. Among our more than 300,000 sponsored members are Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and followers of indigenous beliefs.
Our mission is to build community and foster culturally diverse relationships based on mutual respect, understanding and support without religious or other prejudice.
When we create a true exchange of cultures, understanding and love as equals, we are alleviating not just material poverty, but we are also creating the bonds of lasting peace and unity among people of diverse faiths and backgrounds.
Lenten reflection: Week 4
By Rev. Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher
Lent, as we know, is a time of preparation and self-reflection. It is a time set aside to examine our relationship with God and our need for healing in our own lives. Scripture shows us time and again that God is greatly concerned with our wholeness, in mind, body and spirit. In fact, ìwholenessî and ìholinessî come from the same word that means ìcompleteness.î
In 2 Kings, Chapter 4, we hear a strange and wonderful story of Elisha bringing a family back to wellness and wholeness. Like Sarah before her, God promised a Shunammite woman a son in her old age. God kept that promise but years later the young boy died. However, God would not forget his promise and, through Elisha, brought the boy back to life, restoring the faith of the mother.
CFCAís benefits are structured to follow this guideline of concern for the whole person and the family. We do not simply feed children. Nor do we just educate them or see to their medical concerns. We are concerned for the whole person and we walk with them and bring others along to do the same.
Take, for instance, a widow in Guatemala whose son was sponsored through CFCA. The woman was suffering from depression and because of her†illness she was unable to move forward in her life. She was unable even to address the health concerns of her son. He began to have trouble in school, and it was believed to be because of hearing loss.
CFCA was helping this family financially, but it was not until we brought in another CFCA mother to minister to the little boyís mother that changes started happening. It took more than just the CFCA staff to help this woman back to health in mind, body and spirit. It took God working through someone who was not that different from her, to help heal her.
God, as the ultimate and perfect parent, is deeply concerned for the wholeness of each of his†6-billion-plus children. We need only open ourselves to the Spirit and to our fellow travelers through whom the Spirit works.
1. Where do you need healing in your life in mind, body or spirit?
2. Who might God be placing in your path who needs the gifts you have to offer for their healing?