I live in a smallsized Guatemalan village that is well populated with Roman Catholics, around 80%+ RC's. The charming old church on the main square has just added a large addition doubling the size of the nave with a side chapel...the masses are always overflowing with people standing outside the entrance and there are speakers that deliver audio mass to the square
At San Miguel we celebrate every major Holy day, Semana Santa and many minor religious feast days too. Our Patron Saint is San Miguel the Archangel and September is combined with great festivities for him and the National Independence Day (from Spain) of Guatemala.
We have parades, rodeos, costumed ¨convites¨ , religious processions (drums, flutes, incense) and every villager has their own special tribute when they die as their coffin is shoulder carried from their home to church, to the cemetery...off they go, right down the middle of the street with a brass band following the black clad mourners on foot. Even the funerals seem full of loving respect and community here.
This modest community has an atmosphere of industrous living and beliving at it's best...no big deal. it's the way that it has always been and continues to be as heavily loaded handcarts and donkey carts pass up and down the street and finca workers go off at dawn to pick coffee, or plant minature vegetables for export. The ¨viveros¨ grow long stemmed roses in every color for the World to enjoy...this is a hands-on, quietly energized community with corn tortillas being made over fires ¨los tres tiempos¨ daily and ¨pan francese¨ baked in brick ovens that seem more like kilns.
The people of this town clearly express the virtues taught by the Roman Church at its best in their daily lives. There is also a tiny Order of Spanish Nuns who have a orphanage at the edge of our town...they work their own version of miracles and bring up well mannered, well groomed, well educated children who would otherwise be lost to the street in Guatemala City.
There are miracles going on everywhere. Quiet ones, determined ones, kind ones.
We have few ¨incidents¨ of illegal behavior here. There
are street cameras that work and help protect innocents. Every principal street is monitored for our safety.
The town mayor, Dr. Quiñonez, is a strong willed medical doctor who is community service oriented and the town sparkles in many ways. There is a buy-your-own-home community complete with water, light and sewage systems that is a masterstroke in helping low-income citizens to own their own safe/secure homes and raise families away from dangerous shanties. The Vice Mayor, Don ¨Chepe¨ officiates at legal/free wedding services on Saturday afternoons (and also teaches catechism on his own free time ) Still, the needs are many.
The community services go on and on with a full-time health clinic staffed with a medical nurse and vounteer Doctors/medicos (they usually come from abroad) and a nutrionist too. Vaccinations are often available free of charge for people and even ¨pets¨ .
This town will have a new mayor soon who will no
doubt carry-on the tradition of excellence in goverance as full tranparency in management is the standard.
I am more than comfortable as an Episcopalian/Anglo-Catholic living among Roman Catholics. They add much to my physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
I don't feel the same way about some of the ¨catholics¨ who sit on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States..Scalia, Alito, C. Thomas and Roberts. I suggest they learn a thing or twenty about reality,humility, human decency, respect for ones sisters and brothers and dignity/equality from a little ¨Catholic¨
town in Sacatepequez, Guatemala, Central America.
Leonard Clark Beardsley
San Miguel Dueñas