Fr. Joseph Curla, a missionary of the Congregation of the Mission of Slovakian origin, presents in this short video the reality of the area where they are serving the people of God on the northeastern coast of Honduras. There are many difficulties and great efforts to be made, but the spirit is strong.
Dear sisters and brothers, I am Fr. Joseph Curla, pastor and superior of the Slovakian community of missionaries of the Congregation of the Mission of St. Vincent de Paul, and I serve the people of God in the parish of St. Peter and Paul in Sangrelaya, Honduras. With this missionary call I would like to present to you our mission and, at least in general, our projects and works.
Our parish is located on the northeast coast of Honduras, a few dozen miles from the place where the first Holy Mass was celebrated on the American continent. However, this area of Honduras is very poor: in infrastructure, education, opportunities… but also spiritually poor. There is no paved road, no electrical connection, no hot water, no drinking water. Often there is no water flowing. Honduras is also a country by a high degree of criminality and corruption, starting in the highest positions, social inequality or destruction, environmental plundering. The social injustice of greed causes many of the powerful to shamelessly and frequently use violence and threats, steal property, animals and land from the poor, even in our parish. The Congregation of the Mission has been present in this parish since 2011 and is gradually building the Divine Mercy Mission Center, a sort of heart of the parish, where various members of the pastoral service meet for formation as well as for various organizational meetings.
Currently there are two priests and one brother from the Congregation of the Mission in the parish. Our parish is composed of several ethnic groups. The majority are Garifuna, Afro-descendants, then Latinos and Miskitos; so we serve different cultures and ethnicities in more than 30 different villages and settlements, in 20 of which we have temples and there are regular liturgical celebrations in them.
Due to long distances and problematic travel, it is sometimes very difficult – in time, money and physically – to carry out basic pastoral care: baptisms, weddings or other sacraments, visits to individual homes and families, the training of pastoral assistants and many others; they are, however, a great challenge and at the same time an experience for us. In addition to ordinary pastoral care we help poor families by building and repairing houses, and by providing materials to make their homes at least somewhat decent.
Poverty, poor living conditions and the desire for a better life, in January 2021 alone caused more than 5,000 Hondurans to emigrate, mainly to the United States. Through our project we are trying to prevent this and motivate people to stay in their country and work to get back on their feet.
Our goal is also to help in the long term, so that people can create a stable job or livelihood. That’s why we support youth education, various projects to improve skills and craftsmanship but also moral life and strive to reduce crime.
Yes, it is often a fight with windmills, but in the long run it is of great importance. It is like food, which we have to eat repeatedly every day, even though tomorrow we will be hungry again. But thanks to that food, today we can live with dignity.
Honduras is a region of great poverty at various levels, very difficult living and pastoral conditions. However, it is also an area of beautiful nature, beautiful hearts, persevering work, sincere smiles and joyful laughter in spite of the problems.
Only in the face of the individual, his pains and afflictions, his unfulfilled desires and dreams and his longing for freedom and peace, does the hidden treasure of the immortal human soul and its hunger for the saving creator appear. Only then does one realize how much one has undeservedly received from the Lord God. Perhaps thanks to your help, one of the many people living in inhuman conditions will recover, an immoral life will be converted, an uneducated person will come to education.
Your generosity in supporting our mission is very important and we appreciate it.