Edina jeweler used skills to help poor in Venezuela

| Father Greg Schaffer for The Catholic Spirit | October 10, 2013 | 0 Comments
Martin Weinans is pictured here with one of the many friends he made while teaching his jeweler’s skills to parishioners at Jesucristo Resucitado, the archdiocesan mission in Venezuela. Photo courtesy of Father Greg Schaffer

Martin Weinans is pictured here with one of the many friends he made while teaching his jeweler’s skills to parishioners at Jesucristo Resucitado, the archdiocesan mission in Venezuela. Photo courtesy of Father Greg Schaffer

Last August we mourned the loss of a great missionary from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who had a profound impact on the lives of many at our archdiocesan mission in Venezuela.

Martin Weinans was an immigrant from Holland who came to Minnesota on his own as a 26-year-old in 1969. He eventually settled down with his wife Barbara and raised a family in Rogers, where they attended Mary Queen of Peace parish.

Martin first came to visit the Venezuelan Mission with a motivated group from his parish. A jeweler by trade, he was excited to get to know the people of the parish and wanted to help in whatever way he could. While other members of his group where doing construction on houses, Martin worked with a group of parishioners teaching them how to make jewelry. Martin brought the tools and wire and incorporated some of the local semi-precious stones into the jewelry.

With around 75 percent unemployment in the parish, many people are anxious to learn a new skill in order to start their own small business and create some income to support their family.

Though he didn’t speak Spanish, his patience and enthusiasm for what he was doing won over the people.

One thing that Martin taught the people to make was rosaries.

He was very pleased at how three parishioners became very proficient in what he taught. When Martin would come to visit on his own, he chose to live in the home of the Carpio family rather than stay at the Parish Center or rectory. Keyla Carpio, an unemployed metallurgist, was one of his best students, and he enjoyed giving the classes to his students in the Carpio home, which enabled him to get to know the family and their neighbors in a social setting in the evenings.

Martin became very well known and very well liked by the people in the barrio even amongst the non-Catholics. Martin’s genuine interest in the people and their culture was profound. He was always a willing dance partner even when the Calypso music came on in the evening. His eagerness to try new foods — including a variety of hot sauces — and appreciate the local drinks while playing card games, won the hearts of many people of the barrio.

When Martin returned to Minnesota he would take some of the rosaries that his students had made and sell them in his jewelry store, Van Guilder’s Goldsmith in Edina. When the rosaries were sold he would send down the money and ask for more rosaries.

Martin never really got proficient in Spanish, but that didn’t slow him down. His kindness, generosity and love for the people always shone through. More than sharing his skills and artistry as a jeweler, Martin shared his love and that made all the difference. His students continue to make rosaries with pride and sell them in the archdiocese.

The barrio where the Carpios live and where Martin had such an impact needs a chapel.

As we continue to sell the rosaries and raise funds for the chapel, it has been decided by the parishioners that when it is finally built the chapel will be dedicated to St. Martin de Porres in remembrance of another great Martin who did so much to help the poor by his presence, kindness and generosity.

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Category: World Mission Sunday