Visiting Nicaragua: Sharing Faith

Fr. James Conlon is a priest in the diocese of Lansing and the current pastor of St. Mary’s church in Westphalia, MI. Fr. James traveled to Nicaragua as part of the Global Fellows program.

Sunday morning began very early. As I was missing my cell phone, I was dependent on my body clock to wake up. Thankfully another group was leaving even earlier than us and the noise they made woke me so I decided to get up. As we were in Esteli the breakfast was an American one: toast and coffee. Its amazing how a good cup of coffee chases away all the early morning tiredness!

After breakfast we made our way to the cathedral for Mass. Neither Msgr. Padraic nor I speak Spanish but we concelebrated anyhow. What a hoot! Two Irish priests flanking the local priest in a Church full of people. We stumbled through because what joined us was not a common language but a common faith. Music was a local youth group: guitars, accordions and what looked to me like a xylophone. Loud but full of life and youthful energy.

Nicaragua volcano

Fr. James Conlon (second from right) and the Global Fellows take some time off to enjoy the historic sites of Nicaragua, one of which was the Masaya Volcano. Photo by Mikaele Sansone/CRS

What was interesting as I watched down from the sanctuary was the fact that only a few were actually singing and even fewer received Holy Communion. Maybe there is not that much difference after all between American and Nicaraguan Catholics or indeed any Catholics. One thing that did surprise me was there was no procession at the end. Instead the priest and the acolyte went and stood at the foot of the Sanctuary and greeted the folks who filed past, young and old, men and women. Lots of hugs and handshakes from all. What great way to end Mass!

It’s Mothers day here today and every family seemed to be out paying honor to their moms by taking them to dinner. Our group was joined by Veronica from CRS in Managua and her mother and some others from the family. While we celebrate our Mothers Day a little earlier, it didn’t stop me from thinking about my parents and thanking God for their love and faith. We visited the volcano at Masaya: sulfur sulfur everywhere and not a breath to inhale. But spectacular views and great fun. Another beautiful day in Nicargaua!

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