Cardinal O'Brien's Guatemala visit.
Cardinal Keith O Brien and Mgr David Gemmell (Adminstrator of St. Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh) arrived safely in PetÃ©n, Northern Guatemala on Saturday afternoon after two days flying.
The Cardinal is on a two week visit to Guatemala and Mexico, visiting parishes in both countries where priests from his Diocese of St Andrew's and Edinburgh are on loan to the local diocese.
Writing from Flores in Guatemala, Mgr. Gemmell said;
"Perhaps the most interesting part of the journey was the flight from Belize to Guatemala in a four-seater plane in which we were the only passengers. Fr.Tommy Greenan of the Archdiocese of St. Andrew's and Edinburgh met us at the airport and took us to the bishop s house where they were most warmly welcomed, by the local bishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales."
Cardinal O'Brien and Mgr Gemmell later took part in the annual major fiesta of the area “ that of the Black Crucified Christ of Esquipulas. After the procession through the town they joined in the concelebrated Mass on the steps of the Cathedral led by bishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales. Another guest in the diocese at that time was the Apostolic Nuncio Bruno Mussaro, who was visiting in the area and who also joined in all the celebrations.
Mgr. Gemmel added;
"On Sunday Fr. Tommy spoke of his own mission apostolate to the visitors indicating that during the past year he had made 97 visits to 70 different communities spending two days and two nights in each place sleeping in the church overnight. Basic catechesis was given “ on Baptism, the Eucharist, Marriage, Who is my neighbour? , Why was Jesus of Nazareth killed? , Abba-Father. Sunday Mass was celebrated in the main parish Church."
It is to some of these communities that the Cardinal and Fr. David were travelling last week meeting with the people in the vast area covered by Fr. Tommy and his colleagues. Fr. Tommy collaborates with three religious sisters who work in health education and catechetics. Also he collaborates with the Human Rights Office with special attention to migrants from the area, who are looking for work in Mexico and the U.S.A. On Wednesday and Thursday Mass was celebrated in Cruce a Santa Amelia and El Naranjo with the local communities.
On Friday the Cardinal and Mgr Gemmell travelled to Sayaxche, a parish with 80% indigenous Mayan Indian population where Fr. Tommy intends to minister to the people after receiving a basic course in the Queqchi language.
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Note to editors:
A photograph (JPEG) of the procession of the Black Crucified Christ of Esquipulas is available on request
A photograph (JPEG) of Cardinal O'Brien greeting parishioners after mass in Cruce a Santa Amelia is also available