Venezuela Mission Partnership
In 1970, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis began a mission in the Diocese of Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela. This mission derived from Pope Pius XII’s call to the North American Church to assist the Church of Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the past four decades, many priests from the archdiocese have served in various parishes and capacities in the Venezuela Church.
Since 1983, priests from St. Paul have been pastoring the parish of Jesucristo Resucitado (JCR) in San Felix. Starting in 2002, Fr. Greg Schaffer, pastor of JCR, began to organize young people from the Venezuelan parish to visit our archdiocese and to share their music, culture and parish life.
Since 2004, the visits began to go both ways as more and more parishioners from the archdiocese and students in our Catholic high schools and universities began to learn about and participate in the mission in Venezuela. The mutual interchange of peoples, cultures, gifts and faith between the parish of Jesucristo Resucitado and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is the goal of the Venezuela Mission Partnership.
The economic reality of these Venezuelans in the mission parish can have a profound effect on individuals. Dean Hilgers of St. Joseph Parish in Waconia, was so moved by his four trips to Venezuela that he sold his large lake estate for a more modest home. “I had been living this sheltered life in Waconia,” he said. Dean has since entered the Catholic Studies program at the University of St. Thomas to more fully understand his faith and calling.
Mutual partnership is proving to be a powerful way to share life experiences, faith, culture and gifts. “It was a transformative experience for the students,” said program director, Sue Klappa. “They were profoundly touched by the Venezuelan people. As a result of their time in Venezuela, students have begun to see their PT work after graduation less as a job, and more as a calling.”
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