Nicaragua Visit: Learning to Let Go

Nicaragua dance

Youth from the Cantera Youth Build program perform a dance. The program helps young people build self esteem and work towards a better life through construction, the arts, music, and other activities. Photo by Mikaele Sansone/CRS

Chris Zerucha is a seminarian studying to be priest for the Diocese of Cleveland at St. Mary’s Seminary, Cleveland. He traveled to Nicaragua as part of the Global Fellows program.

Mother Teresa once said, “If you are looking for God, go and serve the poor and they will take you to God.”

At St. Malachi parish in Cleveland, I found this saying to be true as I would go to assist at Monday night meal service as a Borromeo Seminary junior. St. John of The Cross offers insight as to why this is true. In his doctrine of nada, he teaches us that in order to grasp God, we must let go of what we hold on to. The poor show us that in letting go of what we possess, we possess everything worth possessing; we are able to receive and comply with the graces that God provides for us, and indeed dispose ourselves more to the very presence of God Himself.

Nicaragua youth

Anase, a member of the Cantera Youth Build program, shares how the program has helped her live a more fulfilling and profitable life. Photo by Mikaele Sansone/CRS

As we have journeyed in Nicaragua these last seven days, we have seen that, while having less than what they need physically, the people of this country possess an abundance of capability in genuine human relationship and spirituality. They have demonstrated to us that in letting go of what we value as important, we are able to receive the grace of God and participate in genuine communion. Indeed, as Mother Teresa and St. John of the Cross would suggest, the people of Nicaragua have shown us the concrete way to God.

We saw this path in action in very special way today as we visited our last site, the youth center in one of the poorest barrios, (urban villages,) in Nicaragua. The Centera program, or Youth Build as it is named in English, is sponsored by CRS Nicaragua. Gang culture and rejection of home life can run rampant in the barrios, and Centera offers them an opportunity to let go of street life and learn life skills such as family cooperation, business management and construction work. In fact, the new intervention building opening soon near the main Centera campus is being built by youth who have learned their trade from the program.

Today, some model success youth came forward and told their stories. They were so happy and fulfilled and several of them gave thanks to God for the great work in their lives that has been accomplished in them through the youth center. In letting go of the street culture that they thought important, they gained a plethora more in genuine life. Several of them now serve as intermediaries and group leaders themselves, helping youth to embrace the program. In Centera the youth have seen that in the way of abandoning all to God lies the true way to real peace.

We give thanks to God who has guided us in letting go so that we could give ourselves to this trip and receive the blessings that we have received. In following this way of abandonment, we have witnessed and practiced the way of genuine communion with God, with the people of Nicaragua and with each other in this CRS Global Fellows program.
We have been taken to God. We hope and pray that the lessons and all we have received on this trip will remain with us forever as we return to the States, especially as we use what we have gained to encourage our brothers and sisters in the States to live in solidarity and communion with their brothers and sisters in Nicaragua.

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