Bishop Richard G. Lennon
friday july 18 2014
Diocese continues to answer the call to service in El Salvador
His Holiness Pope John XXIII in the early 1960s invited dioceses from
Europe and the United States to consider a commitment to assist dioceses that
were experiencing a serious shortage of priests and experienced church workers.
Our Cleveland Diocese heard the call for assistance and responded generously
and graciously to this invitation.
The Diocese formed the Cleveland Latin American Mission Team (CLAM) in 1964. Over the past 50 years there have been many priests, religious women and lay women who have traveled to the country of El Salvador to be modern day missionaries bringing the Gospel to the people, celebrating Masses and the Sacraments and reaching out as Jesus did, helping those in need, those experiencing challenges and hardships, educating adults and children in the faith and providing schooling for the children.
The example of the Diocese is to make and keep its commitment and the dedication by those who traveled to live and witness their faith in El Salvador have resulted in many parishes from our diocese encouraging prayers for the missions, sending supplies and funds to support the good works in El Salvador and sponsoring "mission trips" to areas where our missionaries are serving and to places beyond.
The past 50 years have been marked by challenges and hardships, especially for those who have so bravely and compassionately served their brothers and sisters. In particular, we remember our sisters from our Mission Team, Sister Dorothy Kazel, an Ursuline sister, and Jean Donovan, a laywoman, who were martyred for the Church.
Notwithstanding these realities, the missionaries to a person have spoken these past days about the joys of their time in El Salvador, and how very much their service and time has deepened their love of the Church and of God's people, whom they were called to serve.
This past week has witnessed a number of the missionaries, priests, religious women and lay women who have returned to El Salvador to celebrate with the Catholic faithful of El Salvador the 50 years of CLAM. I was privileged to travel to the Archdiocese of San Salvador and visit three of the parishes served by our missionaries and to hear their thanks to Cleveland and for what Cleveland has done for them.
The archdiocesan newspaper had a special edition entitled Misión de Cleveland, 50 Años en El Salvador. In the issue were numerous stories and testaments for Cleveland's presence and pastoral work.
Having a wonderful opportunity to meet and speak with the Msgr. Jose Luis Escobar, Arzobispo de San Salvador, I learned from him how highly respected the Cleveland missionaries have been and continue to be loved by the people. He spoke of their impact in the parishes, of having the people live out their faith in a loving and genuine manner.
The mayor of La Libertad had a ceremony with all the officials of the local government present to voice their appreciation for Cleveland's missionaries, noting their strengthening the faith of the people in the port city of La Libertad, and the surrounding areas.
Celebrating Masses with three different communities were experiences I will not forget! The people were full of gratitude for their priests and sisters and shared their love with me. Also, as you may expect, they voiced their hope that they (priests and sisters) would never leave them.
Fifty years of Cleveland's presence and care of people in El Salvador is truly a credit to those who stepped forward in obedience to the call they had received: Come, follow me.
Having witnessed all that I had over the five days in El Salvador, it is my sincerest hope and prayer that as God's people in Cleveland, we may continue this vital and important ministry of our Diocese of Cleveland!
There will be a 50th anniversary celebration on September 20 at the Center for Pastoral Leadership and on September 21 a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
May we celebrate with thanksgiving to God as our brothers and sisters of El Salvador did so very well!