THE people of Clare have helped to give some very special Christmas presents to the poorest of the poor in Ecuador this year. Former Ennis priest Fr John Molloy is continuing his mission in South America and he explained donations from his supporters have been used to give better lives to poor families in his parish.
He said, “We, again with your generosity in the last weeks, have helped a number of very poor families. For example, a mother of four with their home below the water line and beside a river in danger of flooding in January floods, who struggles daily. With the help of the nuns and again from monies I have been given by you, we bought two loads of rocks and shale to rise up the house. This is difficult to explain but to them two truck-loads of stones mean the world. I returned to visit today and they are so happy because now they know they won’t have to leave their bamboo-raised home when the rains come. We paid US$46 to help this family.”
Fr Molloy has wished his friends in Clare a happy Christmas and new year saying, Feliz Navidad y toda la Bendicion para el ano Nuevo 2013.
Fr Molloy’s parish in the barrio of Monte Sinai is near Guayaquil City in Ecuador, built on the edge of the huge River Guyas. He told The Clare Champion, “This year, the Government/City have placed a fantastic crib at the very end of the main street overlooking the river. I am in awe at it because there are many debates here about religion and politics. But this crib of the great Christian story has beautiful life-size figures and is filled with fruits of Ecuador on carts and large camels and it sure makes the passer by stop and think and isn’t that what Christmas is all about – stopping and thinking. When the rush is over, presents bought and dinner ate, we stop and relax and put the feet up.”
The youth group of the barrio of Monte Sinai made a new crib for their church from old bamboo and timber. The Christmas tree was placed beside it and parishioners brought their own ‘Baby Jesu’ for blessing before returning them to their homes.
A Christmas gathering was held for senior citizens in the parish, organised by the youth group. Over 100 people attended and shades had to be put up because the temperatures were so hot.
“I do things like this with all the generous donations I receive from you all so let me assure you, as always, all monies are being spent wisely,” said Fr Molloy.
All preparations for the sacraments are parish-based, which means religion is not taught in schools. Forty-four young teenagers made confirmation in the parish three weeks ago and 58 made their first holy communion.
“Our parish will be five years old on Sunday, January 13, the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus. Our parish is called El Bautismo De Jesus. This Saturday, we will have 44 baptisms. A pre-baptismal talk will begin at 7.30am and the entire 44 will be baptised, beginning at 10am and the ceremony ends at 11.30am usually. So, faith is alive here, thank god I say. It is so life-giving, fulfilling and alive,” said Fr Molloy.
A Christmas meal for all took place at midnight on December 24/25, consisting of vegetable soup and chicken and rice.
“My Christmas masses are on December 24 so on Christmas morning, with you waking, I am sleeping and it’s all over for us. Christmas Day is very quiet here in Monte Sinai, as all have been up until small hours. So I love waking and relaxing on Christmas morning and having bread and tea outside the door, as the morning will get really hot. The rest of the day will see me, as usual, make contact with family and friends via SKYPE, which is a lifeline here. That’s all provided the electricity stays on,” he said. Construction of the primary school, San Filipe Neri, is continuing and is expected to end next year.
“It is so good to see on the Ennis parish website the construction of the new Ennis National School. That is where I began my school chaplaincy in Ennis parish. The great staff and pupils there taught me hard work and the dedication to education is a way towards a great future,” he said.
He concluded, “I will remember you all in prayers and Christmas masses here in our parish. God has blessed me by allowing me health, commitment and contentment to be here. God blesses you through family, friends and togetherness this Christmas. Let us always remember those who cannot come or be home for Christmas and those who are broken, in pain and suffer for one reason or another.
“May your generosity and loyal support to the cause here bring you more blessings and happiness in 2013. Know I appreciate all your kindness and giving so much. You have made a huge difference to the lives of the poorest of the poor. Thank you, gracias.”