We have been present in Guatemala since the catastrophic earthquake that devastated the country in February 1976. Our Brothers then presided over the reconstruction of the village of San Andrés Itzapa (Chimaltenango) where they are still working, as well as in Santa Elena (Barillas).
Later, a post in the capital of Guatemala City was opened, served by the nuns.
In 1977, the Canadian Embassy in Guatemala thanked The Apostles of Infinite Love:
“We were particularly impressed by the lack of selfishness and dedication with which they worked with people, setting an example of hard work. This example was not in vain for the people of San Andrés Itzapa and many still speak of this wonderful work. We at the Canadian Embassy in Guatemala are particularly grateful for this assistance, which has helped make Canadian reconstruction one of the fastest and most effective in the country.[...]
The San Andres Reconstruction Committee gave this testimony:
“Your attitude in this huge campaign of reconstruction has been laudable and worthy of imitation, for you have taught us that true Christianity, in addition to the faith we must put in God, also requires that we sacrifice ourselves for the good of others. That our love for our neighbour must be manifested at all times, and especially in moments of pain and anguish. With these lines we would like to perpetuate our gratitude to you for the material and spiritual help you have given us and continue to give us, and to thank you once again for this gesture that honors you and makes you worthy of our admiration and appreciation.” […]
A small example of the rubble that covered the San Andrés region after the earthquake of February 4, 1976.
We ourselves carried, from Canada to Guatemala, reconstruction materials donated by generous benefactors.
The truck was also donated.
The workers are eager to try out the shovels that they received as a gift from Canada.
San Andres Itzapa. Blueprints and administration in a makeshift shelter.
Our Brothers lead the clearing and rebuilding chores. They work with their own hands alongside the disaster victims.
The wall sections are prefabricated in series. With their homes destroyed,
the workers eat and camp in relief tents
on the construction site.
One after the other, small houses arise,
to shelter so many stricken families
and give them hope.
The little town is starting to take shape.
As a house gets a rooftop, a family
rushes in to take shelter in it.
Father Joseph of the Immaculate, o.d.m.
One of the pioneers of the mission.
He took great care to cultivate the fruit trees on the property, to ensure the future
of the Community.
We pose proudly in front of one of
the 2,000 houses built by the Fathers.
In the background: some of the 2,000 houses built by the Fathers are still standing after more than 40 years.
The monastery in Santa Elena,
where our Fathers share the poverty and simplicity of life of the inhabitants.
An overview of the state of the nuns' house on their arrival in the capital.
Several restoration chores have made
this "convent" somewhat habitable.
The luxurious nuns' courtyard
and the ultra-modern laundromat!
Flat tire on the road. A challenge among many others!.... It takes more than that
to destabilize our nuns.
Neighbours come to the mission to fetch wood for cooking and especially running water... which is rainwater collected in the big "water tank" on the roof.
In San Andrés and several other places, wells have been dug with pickaxes and shovels, as the shortage of drinking water is a fact of life.
Another well dug by the Fathers.
To find water, they had to dig 23 meters deep!
In Santa Elena too, where drinking water is scarce, a well is being dug. Basic relief, which many people are gratefully benefiting from.
A committed family who, since the beginning of our missions in Guatemala, have offered us the support of
their hearts and arms.
Father John Gregory, visiting our missions, gave the confirmation to the children.
To show their gratitude to our Father John Gregory, some natives offered him a beautiful woven piece.
People in the neighbourhood know that they can count on the nuns for a little food or a comforting word.
The catechism lesson outdoor.
Religious instruction offers these children the means to become honest citizens.
At the market, a vendor contributes, with a fine melon, to supplying the missionaries.
In the Gospel, Jesus promises the poor man on earth, who has known pain without rebellion, an eternity of consolation and glory in Heaven.
A brave lady filled with joy
as she receives a rosary from the nuns.
People live in great simplicity. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, says Jesus.
Some villages are still only accessible
by foot or on horseback.
For Christmas, simple gifts
give tremendous delight to these families deprived of the bare necessities of life.
We're making corn tortillas,
the local style.
A Brother bakes bread
for the needs of the three missions.
Poor families come to fetch provisions
from the Padre.
Excursion with the great luxury of bicycles, gifts from Christians who give the example of evangelical charity.
Our nuns visiting families in a slum.
The misery of these shacks
People are happy and honored
by the visit of the nuns who bring them material and spiritual support.
Our nuns in the company of
a few young girls draped in the shimmering colours of the traditional clothing
they have woven themselves!
Faithful friends of the mission who do not count their time and effort in order to assist the Fathers and Sisters.
The sowing of maize, one of the staple foods of the Guatemalan population.
Some of the members, very happy to see Father John Gregory again, during an apostolic tour to our missions in Guatemala.
With people in need.
Who gives to the poor, lends to God,
says an old proverb.
In addition to our missions' chapels, our Fathers minister in a few other native communities scattered in the mountains.
On the top of a mountain, our Brothers built a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. There they regularly celebrate Mass and administer the Sacraments.
The chore of levelling -with picks and rakes- the ground around the chapel.
This is the only path that leads to
the chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The people carried the materials to build their chapel on their backs.
The chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Proud of their church, the parishioners take care of the maintenance of the grounds.
Father John Gregory inspects another well dug by the Fathers for the population around Our Lady of Guadalupe.
A colorful procession in honor of
Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Chapel of Jesus Sepultado, another place served by our missionaries.
Without charging a fee for our services,
we dispense the Sacraments.
The baptism of a newborn baby.
The walls of the Chapel give a glimpse
of the poverty.
A ceremony of several baptisms
in a native colony.
Our Sisters beg to provide for the
material needs of our missions.
The less fortunate are often the most willing to offer their support.
The prayers of Las Posadas, novena preceding Christmas. According to Latin American tradition, every day a new station is visited to commemorate the journey of the Holy Family to Bethlehem.
Comfort visit to a poor sick woman.
Jesus considers as done to Himself
what we do for our neighbour:
I was sick and you visited Me.
(St. Matth. 25:36)
The presence of the nuns
brings much joy and comfort.
God loves a cheerful giver. (II Cor. 9:7)
Firefighters ask the priest to bless
their station and their firetrucks, to ensure Heaven's protection and help.
First Communion in Santa Elena.
What a joy for the priest to present children's hearts to Jesus!
Religious instruction to good folks.
In the Gospel, Jesus Christ gives as one
of the proofs of His mission:
The poor are evangelized!
(St. Luke 7:23)
I bless You, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the wise and prudent, and revealing them to little ones,
says Jesus in the Gospel. (St. Matth. 11:25)
Country women, who know the hard work. They are proud to be photographed
with their good Padres.