The People of San Pedro

The People of San Pedro
Working With Our Friends

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What We Did in El Salvador

Our combined parish mission trip to El Salvador was a huge success!  This past February I took my 8th trip to sunny El Salvador with parishioners from St. Rita and St. Christopher parishes located in Cleveland, OH. 

Our journey began 6 months before we left.  During that time, the pilgrims from both parishes were prepared by learning about the El Salvador culture, social justice, and even a little Spanish.  It's all that we do before hand that makes being there so much better!  Read the press release below to learn about this amazing trip:

Cleveland Parishes Provide Meals for More Than 400 poor in El Salvador.
Reverse Missioning idea is a Huge Success

Solon, Ohio – February 25, 2011 – St. Rita and St. Christopher parishes embarked on “Mission Possible,” during a recent visit our Cleveland Diocesan Mission Team serving in El Salvador.  Organizing, preparing, and then serving lunch for more than 400 extremely poor in the community of Mizata. 

“Our original plan was to prepare a lunch for about 100 people during our visit,” said group organizer, Joyce Colovas, “but about 2 weeks before we were to arrive in El Salvador I received a phone call from Fr. Michael Stalla, Pastor of San Pedro Parish in Teotepeque, El Salvador, asking me if we had enough money to feed closer to 500 people instead,” said Colovas.  “I was so stunned because I had been to this community before and it seemed rather small and rural, but apparently when the word got out that we were coming everyone wanted to be there,” said Colovas.  “The saddest thing for me was when we actually started to serve the food, no matter how many times we asked them to form a single line, they were so afraid that there was not going to be enough food that they began to push their way forward.  I was so heartbroken when I saw them doing that, I just started to cry.  We have so much food and waste in this country but we hardly ever take the time to remember that there are actually people, little ones, going to bed hungry,” said Colovas. 

The two parishes did a phenomenal job working together and making their projects successful.  In addition to feeding the hungry, they organized an entire day of games for the children.  With a donation they received from and from parishioners, they were able to bring over 100 hacky sacks to the children.  As part of their on-going commitment to education they also were able to donate 500 book bags filled with school supplies.   

“The lunch and book bag distribution ran very smoothly,” said Fiona Hudec, missionary and parishioner from St. Christopher’s.  “We had everything running like an assembly line and we had the help of many, many El Salvadoran volunteers, but the best part for me was learning how to make Papusas (a traditional Salvadoran meal),” she said.  As part of an effort by the Mission Team to promote reverse missioning, the youth group in Mizata helped prepare peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the Americans helped make over 400 papusas, each one learning something about the other’s culture.

“This project, in fact the whole trip, was a huge success,” said Fr. Michael Stalla. “It’s hard enough to organize a meal like this in the states but to do that down here is nearly impossible.  The logistics alone are extremely difficult, but they pulled it off and the people of Mizata left that day feeling happy and satisfied.  I am very thankful for all that Clevelanders do for the mission team down here,” said Fr. Stalla.

Joyce is already planning here next mission trip to El Salvador scheduled for some time in June of 2012.  “I have a waiting list of students from Ignatius, Gesu, and Twinsburg High School who want to participate in our next mission trip,” said Colovas.  “It is very exciting and rewarding for me to be able to offer this kind of experience to others.  For me, after 8 years, each time is like returning ‘home’, said Colovas.

Joyce is a member of St. Rita Parish, located in Solon, and the Founder and Chairperson of the charitable organization, Swing into Action, which was formed in 2004 to help support her parish priest, Fr. Mark Riley, who left St. Rita and was reassigned to serve in El Salvador.  Among other things, Swing into Action hosts an annual charity golf outing to raise money for education and hunger relief projects.  This year’s golf outing is scheduled for Saturday, September 10th at Gleneagles Golf Course located in Twinsburg. 

Recently, Fr. John Ostrowski was reassigned to El Salvador to replace Fr. Riley who has since returned to the states.  Fr. Ostrowski was Parochial Vicar serving at St. Christopher parish in Rocky River.   Originally, Fr. Ostrowski had planned on taking his parish on the trip to El Salvador but because of some reassignment issues here in Cleveland he had to leave sooner than expected and asked Joyce if she would be willing to include St. Christopher Parish in her group plans with St. Rita. 

My Family & Friends

My Family & Friends
Jessy, Philipe, Willy, Tony, me & Mark J

The Guys

The Guys