Local family serves NM mission
A personal journal account
By LYZA FRASCO
Special to the Register
June 21, 2014 – Our Family loaded the covered wagon, a.k.a. the van, and headed out west for the hills of New Mexico, destination: Mission Parish San Lorenzo near Grants, New Mexico.
At St. John the Baptist Parish in Spearville, we have been teaming with this New Mexico parish for about 20 years. Our mission was to meet their mission and put on Vacation Bible School.
Eleven hours later, we arrived at a small country church at the base of a mesa, and were met by a parishioner who showed us to our living quarters.
The “Old Convent” as they call it, is generally where the priest will stay overnight prior to Sunday morning Mass and Confession. (Got that? The only access to a priest they have is for about an hour-and-a-half on Sunday mornings! Thankfully we learned that very soon they will be getting a resident priest.)
Monday through Wednesday we hosted a Catholic style Vacation Bible School for whoever would like to come.
Any takers? Yes! Two families. Doesn’t sound like much, but considering that one family was a Navajo family and it included Grandma, Grandpa, their four children–two of their grandchildren–and a cousin, all in all a pretty good turnout for a land so sparse. Everyone, including the volunteers, agreed that much was learned and that fun was had by all who attended. Since this was the only type of religion class or instruction they have all year, it was a consensus that it was in high demand and badly needed again next year.
To support themselves, and as a form of outreach to the community, San Lorenzo houses and runs a thrift store, and since most of the Navajo on the Reservation have no running water, it offers access to a water-well at a donation price of two cents a gallon.
Earlier this summer our parish (St. John the Baptist in Spearville) held a kids’ clothing and blanket drive. We asked [at the mission] if they needed help putting it into the store, but they had other plans. On the feast day of St. Lawrence, they hold a very popular “Fiesta,” and as part of the raffle they include some of the items that we donated, i.e. bed spreads, blankets, towels, etc..., (their Grand prize is a 1986 4wd pick-up!) and since it will nearly be back-to-school time, they’ll have a kids’ clothing jamboree sale, since they really have almost no kid-size clothing.
So all in all, the trip out west was very productive and taught our family a few things:
1. Yes, this place is real, with real people, and a real need. It would be great to have more communication with them. If you would like to take the time to go down there and go to Mass, I’m sure they would love it!
2. It is Catholic. In fact, if this parish closed down, families would have to drive 80 minutes to the next Catholic church.
3. It still needs our help. Our donations, both monetary and material, our prayers, and our time spent teaching them is priceless and immeasurable. Also, the next item on their list is to build a cemetery. The Navajo of the parish have designed it and will be the ones to build it once all the funds are raised.
Thank you again for all you do for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ! Remember God has given each and everyone of us a gift to share, so “Go out into the whole world and tell the Good News.” (Mark 16:15)