The students have been doing an amazing job keeping the blog up every evening. Some nights its been quite late for them since they don’t start working until they have finished all their science research for the day. Sometimes I have not had time to download all the day’s pictures for them either. One set of pictures that I want all of the families to see is of when we went to Mass on Sunday in Colonia Libertad. Their tiny parish church shares a priest with several other communities and so only has Mass offered regularly on the 3rd Tuesday of each month…….UNLESS there is a special feast day. Our host Ana and Pablo were excited to tell us when we first arrived at Finca La Anita that Sunday, July 1 was the feast day of their parish’s patron saint, “Mary, Mother of God” is the only way I could translate it. Anyway, this meant that the priest would be offering Mass at their tiny church on Sunday and members of the 2 nearest villages would be joining them. They were very excited to have us join the celebration.
The small church had a beautiful statue of Mary, Mother of God in the front and a beautifully carved wooden tabernacle and cross. The wooden pews were filled with families from the 3 nearby villages and they had several rows of folding chairs in the back for us. It was a tight fit but everyone got a seat. Father came equipped with the Eucharistic bread and wine as well as an electric fan and a microphone that several parishioners setup on the altar as they were putting on their vestments. Several Sisters from another village lead an enthusiastic children’s choir and played guitar and tambourine. The songs sounded very similar to those we sing at our own parishes in MN. Though the Mass was in Spanish, the order and cadence of the prayers and readings were identical to those at home that we had absolutely no trouble following the prayers and readings and even the homily, which was all about Maria leading us to salvation through her son, Jesus. After communion the sacristan invited one of our group, Andrew McGurl, to come to the altar and say a few words in Spanish to the congregation. Andrew was assisted by Felix who is Ana’s brother and grew up in Mound, MN and graduated from Westonka HS:) Andrew’s short speech to the congregation said that we were from a Catholic school in Minnesota and were staying at Finca La Anita to do science experiments. He mentioned how welcome we feel in their community and thanked them for inviting us to join them in celebrating Mass. His Spanish was excellent and everyone clapped for him. After Mass we were all invited to join them for “hospitality” just like we do at home. Several students got juice or bowls of beans with rice or fried plantains. Dr. Boldt and I were very proud of our students interactions with the local parishioners and the priest. It was a lovely example of the universal Church.