WILMINGTON — Students at St. Ann School in Wilmington gathered May 8 to meet the bishop and a priest from the Diocese of San Marcos, Guatemala, where the Wilmington school has helped its sister school, Santa Ana.
Bishop Bernabé de Jesús Sagastume Lemus and Padre Toribio Pineda visited the school, along with Father John Hynes, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Prices Corner and Mary Jo Frohlich. Father Hynes and Frohlich are members of the 20-year-old Global Solidarity Partnership committee in the Diocese of Wilmington, although Frohlich will soon be stepping down after 20 years. Father Hynes acted as a translator for the students and the visiting clerics.
St. Ann principal Rachael Casey told the students that St. Ann’s in Wilmington and Santa Ana have the same mission: to create people of God.
“You have already done a lot for that school,” she said, whether they realize it or not. St. Ann’s has held several fundraisers to benefit Santa Ana. The school presented a copy of a check for $2,429 to Bishop Bernabé and Padre Toribio at the end of their visit.
Casey said the Guatemalan school is one of the missions that benefits from the students’ generosity.
“We have the power to help those in the community near and far,” she said.
Father Hynes said the partnership between the two schools goes back 15 years. Translating for the bishop, he said Bishop Bernabé is very happy to have the partnership and that he thanked the St. Ann’s community for its assistance. The bishop told the students he had no doubt they would grow up and make great contributions to the United States.
Padre Toribio, also speaking in Spanish, said he brought the appreciation of the people associated with Santa Ana.
“We’re very grateful for the help that you’ve given to our diocese,” he said through Father Hynes. He added that he will pray for them, and that the people of the Santa Ana community will as well.
Each of the fifth-grade students had the opportunity to approach Bishop Bernabé and introduce themselves in Spanish. All of the children were given the chance to ask questions, which were translated by Father Hynes. They learned that Bishop Bernabé has been a bishop for 15 years. One asked him if it is fun; another wanted to know if Padre Toribio was also a bishop. He is not, but he has been a priest for more than 50 years.
Father Hynes asked the students about some of their activities and discovered that nearly all of them are athletes. A few of the students told the visiting priests about the St. Ann’s basketball teams. They also mentioned a few of the class trips they have taken this year, with destinations including Fort Delaware, the Franklin Institute, Historic Odessa and the Delaware Art Museum.
Father Hynes, who has visited San Marcos several times, told the students that Santa Ana is a school constructed of cement blocks that educates about 400 students in grades 1-8. They also play sports there, with soccer being a year-round activity.
Father Jack Mink, the pastor of St. Ann’s Parish, led the students in singing “We Are One Body” for Bishop Bernabé and Padre Toribio, who continued their busy schedule on Tuesday with representatives from the Ministry of Caring. The ministry’s founder, Brother Ronald Giannone, and Bishop Bernabé are both Capuchin Franciscan priests.
Frohlich said this was the first visit for a delegation from Guatemala since before the coronavirus pandemic.
All photos by Mike Lang.