Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hogar Nativity Appeal Wrap-up

Dear Parish Faithful,

Incredibly, we were able to send a check for $4,215.00 to the Hogar as the final step in our recent Nativity Appeal. Since this total exceeds the required amount for a one-year sponsorship for a particular child, the "extra" funds will be placed in a secure account for her future support and sponsorship, according to Madre Ines.

There is one change I would like to inform everyone of: the initial child we chose to support was quite unexpectedly ordered by the Guatemalan court to be sent back to her mother. This was not anticipated by the Hogar but, of course, they complied with the court order. After discussing this with Mother Ines, we shifted our sponsorship over to another young girl. Her name is Francesca Maria, and she will turn eight on July 12. We also met her on our last Mission Team to the Hogar in June, and became friends with her. She is a lovely little girl, very lively and goodhearted. Madre Ivonne says that she loves music and has a beautiful voice. But, as with all children at the Hogar, a child with a sad history behind her. Now that we know her name, please keep Francesca Maria in your prayers, and ask your children to do the same. We will have opportunities during the year to correspond with her in various ways.

It is a huge moral, psychological, and emotional boost to a child who knows that he/she is being personally sponsored by concerned Orthodox Christians from around the world. The given child then knows that he/she is cared about by others in a special way. Madre Ivonne just informed me that Francesca was told of her sponsorship and that she was "so happy." We will soon receive a card from her, hopefully with a photo.

I have seen and heard of various Christian churches here in the States - including right here in Cincinnati - speak about their great concern for some of the orphanages in Haiti that they are connected to, and for the safety of the children there following the earthquake. This heightened anxiety is rooted in personal contacts and developed relationships with these children following visits to certain Haitian orphanages by these churches. I can much more deeply understand their fears and anxieties, as we, too, have a deep international connection with the Hogar San Rafael in Guatemala, and know many of the children there through personal contact over the years through many of our parishioners.

I noticed a new book at the local bookstore entitled Give a Little - How Your Small Donations Can Transform Our World, by Wendy Smith. I am not implying that everyone is making a "small donation," but if I am reading the meaning of this title correctly, the author is explaining, through her experience as a "fund-raiser," how donations add up in such a way that they make a significant impact. (I did notice some of our children at the Cross stop and place a "small donation" into the basket when we were collecting. But is was "big" in terms of its meaning). That is exactly what is happening in our parish. As a parish community/family our individual donations, whatever the size may be, are "adding up" in a significant manner as in this latest example of fully supporting this child with the generous check that we just sent in.

All to the glory of God.

On a related note: Would anyone be interested in joining a Mission Team to the Hogar from June 16-23 of this coming summer? Please let me know.

Fr. Steven