Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
If you want to feel old, just tell a person under 30 that you’re a “Beatles” fan. “A fan of who?” they’ll reply. The famous group from England dominated the charts in the ‘60s but is now just a part of rock ‘n’ roll history.
One particular song was entitled, “With a Little Help from My Friends.” Having just returned from the Dominican Republic, getting by with a little help from my friends, is exactly what’s happening. Whenever I return from a trip to a third world country, I realize just how much I take for granted. In some ways I wish I could take our junior and senior high school students with me just so that they’ll be able to appreciate what we have in the United States: electricity in our homes that is constant; paved roads; indoor toilets; solid roofs that don’t leak; access to medical facilities and drugs that are readily available to treat illness.
This past week I traveled on a pastoral visit to our mission church in the Dominican Republic, La Sagrada Familia, with Fr. Ricardo Martin, pastor of Sacred Heart in Racine and our vice chancellor, and Jerry Topczewski, our archdiocesan chief of staff. La Sagrada Familia is staffed by Frs. Martí Colom and newly ordained Juan Manuel Camacho. This mission parish addresses the basic needs of nearly 30,000 people through their outreach with the support of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee began its partnership with this poor parish in the Dominican Republic many years ago. Many dioceses have abandoned their mission in Latin and Central American and yet, more than 30 years ago, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee decided to share its resources and clergy to assist the poor of this diocese.
A number of our archdiocesan priests have served the parish of La Sagrada Familia, but most recently, the Community of St. Paul, our archdiocesan missionary association, has helped us as a Church to fulfill our mission commitment.
Over the course of the five days I spent at La Sagrada Familia, I witnessed the priests, religious and staff, fulfill all of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The parish and the Church have the trust of the people of the area. If the Church is involved, then the poor have hope that progress will be made.
During my stay I encountered people who are loving and joyful despite living in the midst of abject poverty. This can only be attributed to the fact that the Gospel is preached and witnessed by the presence of those representing His Church. Not only is there outreach to the poor Dominicans, but also to the Haitian immigrants who have crossed their border in search of better lives.
What should make us all proud is that all these works that give dignity to the poor are an extension of us, the Church of Milwaukee. I hope, in the weeks ahead, to give a full report on my trip in the Catholic Herald – perhaps with some pictures and additional stories of the struggle of our brothers and sisters. They too get by with a little help – and prayers – from their friends, because in Jesus’ name, we LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the October 23, 2012 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.