Monday, August 5, 2013

What We Do and Why We Do It

I am going to take some time this week to write a little bit more about our missionary foundation and the work we do. This blog has mostly been a place where I processed thoughts and shared my heart, but it occurred to me that there may be some newer readers who are stopping by and have very little idea why I live in Costa Rica or what we do as missionaries here.

If you weren't around in the beginning and are not sure where we live, I shared a little geography tutorial here.

If you don't know our personal story and how we ended up back in the mission field in early 2012, you can read my personal perspective in a guest post at My Crazy Adoption.

In order to say "yes"to God and answer His call to serve him in the mission field in Costa Rica, we founded our family foundation: St. Bryce Missions. You can find much there about our history and our mission and what we do. Our mission statement says this:
                                                              Mission Statement
   Saint Bryce Missions is a lay Catholic association of the faithful  established to aid and serve the poor in foreign mission and domestic evangelization. Faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and under the direction of the local Bishops and Pastors, we promote the rich teachings of the Catholic Church and support the third world missions by serving in lay apostolates such as teaching, evangelization, projects for the poor and helping build church infrastructure. Consecrated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the source and focus of all endeavors of this lay apostolate is the Most Holy Eucharist and devotion to Our Lady. 

Over the course of this week, I will highlight some of the ministry we work we are currently doing in our large, rural parish, San Antonio de Padua de Tayutic. It is a parish that is comprised of a vast geographical territory which includes 18 rural communities and the entirety of the Chirripo Indian Reservation. While our main work in the mission field is the spiritual work of evangelization, we undertake many material works to aid the poor as well. The principle work among those is the construction and renovation of chapels in poor communities. The reasoning behind making this our principle work is expressed today on the foundation's Facebook page

Why building chapels for the poor is such an important part of the new evangelization, a great witness to charity and the virtue of hope. Blessed John Paul II said in his Papal Encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia" "Like the woman who anointed Jesus in Bethany, the Church has feared no extravagance devoting the best of her resources to expressing her wonder and adoration before the unsurpassed gift of the Eucharist. No less than the first disciples charged with preparing the large upper room, she has felt the need, down the centuries and in her encounters with different cultures, to celebrate the Eucharist in a setting worthy of so great a mystery." 

This is our goal St. Bryce Missions: to help build and restore chapels in poor communities. The poor in many cases want a place to honor the mystery of the Eucharist but do not have the resources within their own community to build a chapel. The poor struggle everyday just to feed their bodies and it is part of our duties to help them meet their basic needs for food and shelter. But along with feeding their bodies, they must be nourished spiritually and come to the understanding of the reality of the hope of heaven so they do not despair at the harshness of their lives and fall into many sins. For Catholics, that nourishment is found in the Bread of Life, the Eucharist, and the life-giving grace of the other Sacraments as well. A chapel built in a poor community is a beacon of hope that rises out of a sea of despair that can draw all men to Christ. For very little of our resources simple chapels can be built from materials that will last for several generations. In providing a sacred space where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass can take place and the Blessed Sacrament can be made available in the tabernacle, we are honoring Christ and the poor whom Christ loves and desires to be with in His Real Presence. 

This video shows the process and simple design we have created to provide long-lasting, dignified places of worship that will need minimal maintenance over time:

We have completed a number of projects over the last year and a half in the area in which we are working directly, including the chapel above in the indigenous community of Quetzal. All work is funded through donations from sponsors (parishes, groups, families, and individuals) who adopt a particular project and sponsor it.

Last month, our supporters at St. Nicholas Church in Lydia made it possible for us to fulfill our dream of spreading the work of chapel building to other poor areas of Costa Rica, Latin America, and the world by funding the construction of a long awaited chapel for the community of Bella Vista in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We spent a week visiting with the community and visiting homes to share the joy of our faith and the Eucharistic presence with our brothers and sisters now.

We have a number of new collaborations in other areas we will soon be seeking sponsorship for, but our current priority projects awaiting adoption can be viewed on our funding site. In addition to the Bella Vista chapel above, a chapel reconstruction for the indigenous community of Nimari is fully funded and underway, as well as the Padre Pio chapel in the rural community of Bajo Pacuare de San Joaquin.

Our current priority projects are now the two chapels needed on the island of Chirra in Costa Rica:

There are also a number of smaller renovation projects that can be seen on the funding page as well as information on how you can organize your group to raise funds for a project you would like to adopt. Take some time to look around the site and see if God pulls on your heart to reach out to your brothers and sisters at the ends of the earth and care for the poor by nourishing their souls with the Most Holy Eucharist and plating the virtue of hope in their hearts.

1 Corinthians 13:13 calls faith, hope and love the three remaining, or abiding, virtues:

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.

And the Catholic Church calls them the theological virtues and the foundation of all Christian moral activity: 
 The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity (CCC 1813)
I can think of no better way to act on these virtues and make them apparent to the poor than in your charitable love for them building them a place to practice their faith and renew their hope in the presence of God among them.

Help us by sharing this post, our web sites and Facebook pages with your contacts, spreading the word about who we are and the work we do, and considering if your parish, ministry, community or family might want to adopt a chapel project and work for its completion. E-mail us for more information at stbrycemissions AT gmail DOT com.

**We are often asked about short term groups sponsoring a chapel and coming to participate in its construction. We welcome your group and would encourage you to visit and get to know the community you are aiding, but we prefer to allow local builders to hire workers from within the communities to complete construction problems. It provides much needed work, increases the community's involvement in and responsibility for their project and ensures the work is done according to local quality standards. Thank you for understanding.

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