Venezuelans, priests celebrate 40-year gift exchange

| October 6, 2010 | 0 Comments

Father Larry Hubbard shares a happy reunion with members of Jesucristo Resucitado parish Oct. 2 as the Venezuelan parish celebrates its 40th anniversary. Father Hubbard and several other priests who served at the archdiocesan mission joined Bishop Lee Piché in traveling to Venezuela for the occasion. Photo by Bob Zyskowski / The Catholic Spirit

When priests from Minnesota came to the barrios of San Felix, Venezuela, it made all the difference in the world to Isabel de Troisi.

“I got a new life when the American priests arrived and started evangelizing,” she said between hugs of the Minnesota clergy outside Jesucristo Resucitado Church.

De Troisi remembered Fathers Ray Monsour and Larry Hubbard by name.

“Padre Raymundo and Padre Lorenzo, they were so important to me because they evangelized my family and brought them into Christianity,” she said.

Hugs were the order of the day Oct. 2 when Jesucristo Resucitado celebrated the 40th anniversary of priests of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis serving as pastors in San Felix, a poor and constantly growing town of cement block and corrugated-roofed housing on the Orinoco River in east-central Venezuela.

Venezuelans flocked to reconnect with Father Hubbard and two other Minnesota missionaries — Fathers Frank Fried and Tim Norris — who returned to San Felix for the anniversary celebration.

Greetings and gratitude

At the anniversary liturgy, the lively music and festive feel of the day had people swaying in the pews, clapping as they sang and breaking into applause regularly.

Bishop Lee Piché brought greetings and congratulations from Archbishop John Nienstedt and the people of the archdiocese to Jesucristo Resucitado parishioners and Ciudad Guayana Bishop Mariano Parra, who presided.

Bishop Piché named Minnesota priests and some parishes they had served in Venezuela, noting, “Each one of these priests has returned to Minnesota a better priest for the experience here in Venezuela.

“As more and more of our lay ministers come to visit you, and work hand in hand with you in announcing the Good News to the poor, our church in Minnesota is blessed with a more profound love and blessed with a wider vision and a greater appreciation of the universal church.”

The bishop said there was just one word he could say in response to those blessings: “Gracias.”

Sacrifices recognized

Bishop Parra thanked the archdiocese for the gift of its priests, and he thanked the American priests for leaving “family, material things, even their language.”

He told the hundreds inside Jesucristo Resucitado Church that they, too, deserved thanks for helping the Minnesota priests be missionaries, but he challenged the Venezuelans to be missionaries themselves.

“We are called to do the same, to make sacrifices to bring the Word of God to others,” he said.

Gerardo Moreno, an English teacher, said he admires the Minnesota priests.

“I appreciate all the time that they have spent with us,” Moreno said. “They left their country and their own comfort to come here to help people, to help the poor.”

A festival in the parish center courtyard followed the Mass, with music, games, young girls dancing, older boys playing drums, colorfully costumed actors, food and drink.

Visit the “Mission Venezuela” blog for more photos and stories.

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Category: World Mission Sunday