Thank you for all of your support and prayers while hurricanes Irma and Maria were passing through. I am grateful to report that the hurricanes caused minimal damage in our area and that damage was caused by swollen rivers rather than extreme localized downpours or high winds. About 8 houses were flooded, a few farmers lost some crops in low lying areas, and two bridges were damaged. The bridges were fixed quickly by the government and the houses were vacated until the waters receded revealing minimal damage to the mostly cement houses.
There is always sooo much to talk about, but I wanted to tell a little story first. The Cat had a kitten a few weeks ago and one morning I went downstairs and noticed that the kitten was gone. I figured a dog or something had gotten to it, poor thing. Then one evening Fr. McGraw took one of his travel bags out and left it just outside his bedroom door in order for it to be ready to pack in the morning before heading to the mountains for a few days to bring the sacraments to some of the harder-to-reach towns. I saw Father in the morning and he said to me: “When I picked up my bag this morning it was heavier than usual. I picked it up anyway and brought it to my room, but when I opened it, there was a cat in my bag! It didn’t want to leave my bag either, but when it finally did leave, there was the kitten too!” So the kitten is back and beware of heavier-than-usual bags.
During this past summer the missionary groups and other donors…
1) Put on a fantastic basketball camp and tournament
2) Repaired three chapels,
3) Built 13 houses,
4) Offered a Bible camp for kids,
5) Laid down more than 15 floors for houses without floors
6) Beautified houses and chapels by painting religious images
7) Built several latrines.
Thanks you for your service!!
Fr. McGraw has been adjusting well and rejoices to go to the loma and bring the gospel to the humble folk that live in some of the villages higher up in the mountains.
School has begun, two hurricanes have come and gone, and we are currently in the middle of Patronales for the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. For nine days the various communities of Bánica come to participate in prayer and the rosary in anticipation of the feast of St. Francis. Then, during the feast of our patron and in the days preceding, Bánica, a town of 1,700 or so, typically receives more than 10,000 visitors who are fulfilling promises that they had made, offering their devotions to honor St. Francis of Assisi and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, or came with a friend out of curiosity. It is a tremendous cultural expression of local faith and devotion to the Communion of the Saints.
The deacon of Pedro Santana also just completed the altar dedicated to our Lady of Altagracia for the side chapel in the main church just in time for the beginning of the Patronales. Our Lady of Altagracia represents the largest devotion to Our Lady in the Dominican Republic. Three of the four side chapels in the parish church have an altar with the fourth standing empty. The church lacked a prominent monument to Our Lady but, with the generous support of a donor, we were able to buid this beautiful altar!
Last but not least, the president of the Dominican Republic visited Sabana Cruz and promised to rebuild the broken canal, fix the roads, donate a truck, a tractor, and a bus and made several other promises that the government has already begun to fulfill.
Talk about busy times! May God bless you all and thank you again for all of your prayers!