As you young people read this tonight I know you are back in the compound at Esquias. You’ve probably taken your one minute cold shower, had a little something to eat, packed for your trip home beginning tomorrow, and are ready to begin the last leg of this most amazing journey. You had a great day, didn’t you? The day was filled with all kinds of emotion, probably a lot of tears, and experiences that hopefully will be forever logged in your memories. My question to you is really quite simple. Will you ever forget the children of Picacho, Esquias, Comedor Pasionistas de San Diego, and even for some of you, Las Uvas ? Will you ever forget them? Will your young lives ever be the same again? Will you ever think of water the same? How about food?
In last night’s message Catherine Gibbens wrote, “Tomorrow will definitely be a day to remember, because none of us will ever let go.”
Once again, for about the hundredth time, I just finished watching and listening to the theme song of this year’s mission program on youtube – “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flatts. I’m not sure but I don’t think we could have picked a better theme for your experience in Honduras, at least your messages on the blog seem to indicate that, much like Catherine’s comment. But that will be your TEST in the coming days, weeks, and months, won’t it? Who has received more in this mission – the people and children of Honduras, or you?
In the song ‘I Won’t Let Go”, he sings, ‘It’s like a storm, that cuts a path, it breaks your will, it feels like that’. Personally, I think of Honduras and all of its children often when I hear those words, and I have thought of you a thousand times in the past few days because of those words, and the strength and will that each of you have shown during this mission and hopefully will continue to show and experience in the years to come. I think of how you were THERE for Honduras and the children of Picacho when no one else was – much like the teams from Heelan and Gehlen. The sacrifices you and your families have made to help others. In the 1960’s, in one of his books, Michael Harrington wrote, “That the poor are invisible is one of the most important things about them, they are not simply neglected and forgotten, what is much worse, THEY ARE NOT SEEN.”
Dear St. Thomas More Mission Honduras, thanks for SEEING the poor of Honduras, and in ‘them’ you will see the plight of billions all over our planet. Like Catherine said, ‘none of us will ever let go,’ please don’t. My belief in the inherent goodness and power of young people leads me to conclude that you will keep this experience close to your heart. In the message I sent to the Heelan group right before they left Honduras I used a famous quote that says, “ Preach the Gospel every day, use words if necessary.” From this point forward St. Thomas More, never be afraid to stand up for the poor. Do you remember that other part of the song that goes, ‘It hurts my heart, to see you cry, I know It’s dark, this part of life, Oh it finds us all, and we’re too small, to stop the rain, Oh but when it rains, I will stand by you.’
That’s you St. Thomas More, standing tall tonight for the poor of Honduras. On behalf of the people you went to serve, the children of Honduras, tonight I say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.
Many thanks as well to everyone that has made this trip so successful. Special thanks to our Honduran contingent: Julio, Angel, Carlos, Tacha, Marta, Marny, Fr. Bonilla, and all those that assisted you in any way. Many thanks to Francis, Carolyn, and Linda. Once again you have stepped up for another group of young people and I hope that your example will lead them to great things in their future. Many thanks to the wonderful chaperones on this years team, what a great bunch you have been. Special thanks to Mary Casey and Barb Honeycutt. Your planning, wisdom, love, and effort have made all of this possible. And most especially and finally to all you students, thanks, but ‘Don’t Let Go.’
Godspeed St. Thomas More and your return to Rapid City – may the wind be always at your back.
Richard SeivertMission Honduras