In 1990, Father Pat Rush led a group of St. Thomas More parishioners to the small mountain village of San Andres Itzapa , Guatemala. With assistance and guidance from the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA), STM joined hands with Padre Pancho, the pastor at the cathedral in San Andreas, Madre Marina, founder of the Carmelite order whose convent is located in the village, and the people of the community to begin a relationship that continues today. Padre Pancho had a vision for that small village of predominately Mayan people who had been the victims of prejudice and a 30-year civil war. He believed that a partnership between the two communities could provide the assistance needed for the poorest of the poor in Guatemala to have a better life, better nutrition, health care, skills training and education.
Since then, many parishioners from the Church of the Nativity have participated on mission trips with STM and in 2016 Nativity will conduct its own first two trips to Guatemala. In order to maintain a continuity of services, Nativity, as well as other parishes and schools in the Kansas City area, continue to build on the meaningful program created by STM parishioners.
Working together with local individuals and families, we build stoves, gardens, fences, chicken coops and pig pens. When we deliver food and supplies to the elderly and sick, we spend time listening to their stories and laughing and praying together. In an effort to connect with young residents, we donate supplies and/or work on various projects that benefit several schools, including a school for children with physical and intellectual disabilities, as well as a life-long home (orphanage) and therapeutic center for children with special needs. Taking time out to play soccer with the boys or braiding hair with the girls generates joy, laughter and genuine relationships with children of Guatemala.