I would like to give a little background on the amazing developments in the Guatemalan church. Although Guatemala is a small country, only the size of the state of Ohio, it underwent a brutal 36-year civil war (1960 - 1996) where 200,000 people, the majority of them Mayan, were slaughtered by military forces. The issue at hand was land reform. Since the days of the conquistadores who came from Spain and subjugated the native Mayan people, most of the land in Guatemala was owned by a few wealthy families of European descent. Fr. Andres Giron, a Catholic priest, empathized with the plight of the Mayan people and sought justice for them. Using the non-violent demonstration methods he learned by studying Gandhi and Martin Luther King, he became a revolutionary, fighting for the rights of the people and for land reform. This did not sit well with the Catholic church, which aligned itself with the wealthy class, nor with the dictatorship in power. Three attempts were made on Fr. Andres' life. Once, he was shot while serving a Mass, but survived. Another time, his car was blown up, but he was not in it. And in another attempt, his body guard was killed, but Fr. Andres escaped. He became well known in all of Guatemala as a champion of the people and was eventually elected to the senate. There, he achieved land reform and was able to give portions of land back to the people. He established 44 agrarian villages and organized additional businesses and schools for the people.
My job in Guatemala will be to teach a group of women to sew cassocks and vestments for the priests, altar boy robes, chalice covers and other ecclesiastical needs. Fr. John and I both feel so blessed to be a part of this historic growth in the church. It is a daunting task. With God's help and your prayerful support, it will be accomplished.