Why will Union Church be celebrating with us? Union Church has a long history – more than 25 years – of relationship with the people of El Salvador, through numerous visits and delegations to that country. At the invitation of Union Church, a number of St. Clare parishioners has joined with them on several informational and service delegations.
As early as 1994 and again in 2006 and most recently in 2013 – when the group helped rebuild a school in the village of El Roble which had been destroyed by bombs during the civil war. Marilyn Vermeesch of St. Clare was a part of that delegation. In 2006 five members of St. Clare joined the Berea delegation to work on building a community center in the village of Valle Verde – with whom Berea has been connected for many years. During the trip in 1994 St, Clare and Union Church people worked to bring potable water to a remote village in El Salvador.
Those of us who have been privileged to take part in any of these delegations typically spent the first several days in San Salvador visiting national and historic sites, learning about the country’s history and becoming oriented to its socio-economic and political situation today. These activities helped us to prepare for and put into context the rest of the experience we would share – living with families in small villages and participating in the various work projects.
From these experiences, and thanks to the inspiration of Union Church folks, we learned from each other, built lasting friendships and developed a strong sense of mutuality with the Salvadoran people. Most of all we learned – and experienced – that, in spite of their poverty and the horrors they endured during years of civil war atrocities, the Salvadorans are a resilient, joyful, hopeful and incredibly welcoming and hospitable people.
And so, on June 3, we will celebrate Oscar Romero’s beatification with Union Church members, our new Bishop who tells us he is “so happy to know that St. Clare and Union Church are in a relationship with the Church in El Salvador”, and hopefully with all of you.
We look forward to seeing you then.