Special to The Dialog
Bishop Carlos Trinidad of San Marcos visits diocese as Solidarity Partnership nears 15th year
EASTON, Md. — Bishop Carlos Trinidad didn’t hesitate when asked the major issues that confront the Diocese of San Marcos, Guatemala: treatment of women, lack of opportunity for young people, and malnutrition.
Then he smiled ruefully as he acknowledged an overwhelming issue that he seemingly overlooked, one that fuels the three concerns he listed. “The poverty, it is always there.”
His comments came during an interview at Ss. Peter and Paul School on the last day of a visit to the Diocese of Wilmington. Accompanying him were Father Rigoberto Matias, whose parish in the Diocese of San Marcos has partnered with Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, and Sister Bernarda Rojas, who helped organize the Global Solidarity Program between the two dioceses in 2003. Each year, delegations travel between the United States and the Guatemalan diocese nestled against southern Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.
The three, both together and alone, visited various parishes and schools across the diocese, including some that have forged special bonds with people, parishes and schools in Guatemala. For example, Ss. Peter and Paul Parish and Father Matias’ parish, Tres Reyes in El Tumador, have formed a partnership, and Ss. Peter and Paul School has partnered with the school at San Luis, within Tres Reyes Parish. Ss. Peter and Paul has sent three delegations to Guatemala over the past two years.
While Ss. Peter and Paul has provided material assistance to Tres Reyes and San Luis, the goal is to develop solidarity between the peoples of Guatemala, Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Sharon Spence, who teaches Spanish at Ss. Peter and Paul High School, was part of two of those delegations, and went a week ahead of time this summer to spend time learning more about the families whose children attend San Luis School.
Father Matias was impressed by the Ss. Peter and Paul School complex, which includes an elementary and a high school. “I am very surprised. It is very different than what I am used to in San Marcos. The schools here, they have all the means necessary to run a school. We don’t.”
They also visited parishes such as Immaculate Conception in Marydel, which has a strong Guatemalan population. “It was a very good experience,” Sister Bernarda said. “The majority of people I saw there were from San Marcos; I recognized some of them.”
Bishop Trinidad said his visits to the United States allow him to “experience a different reality from what I am used to.”
Delegation members undergo a similar experience. “Hearts and minds are transformed after seeing the difficulties” of everyday life in Guatemala, he said.
Despite the different cultures, Bishop Trinidad noted that the Mass and the Eucharist are the same.
That is really the strength of the Solidarity program, Sister Bernarda said. “What is important is that our partnership is truly rooted in faith. That is what is important.”
Father Matias considered the delegation’s visit to be “a blessing from God. I see it as a sign of gratitude [for] not only sharing the partnership we have, but also the same Father.”
Contributing to this article as translators were Susan Spence, Spanish teacher at Ss. Peter and Paul High School; Damaris Santillan, a senior at Ss. Peter and Paul, and Father Glenn Evers, director of the diocese’s Cultural Ministry office.