As you read this I will be in St. Louis, MO to celebrate with my family both Thanksgiving and my birthday on Sunday.
Well, we are now past the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. But we still need to work on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Earlier this year I did a series of these bulletin columns on the works of mercy. Most were pretty easy. However, the last corporal work, “bury the dead,” was kind of a stumper. We don’t get much opportunity to actually do that.
However, just a week ago I was presented with an opportunity for us to actually be able to do that. A good friend of mine, Sr. Evie Vasquez, ICM, has been a missionary in rural Guatemala for a long time. Originally from Virginia, she has been working there ever since I was ordained, and that was a long time ago!
She sent me an email last week with an unusual request. Here is her appeal: “Now, Chuck, I do have another big concern. It so happens that here in Guatemala there are people still wanting to find the bodies of their relatives [from] during the internal armed conflict, especially those who were kidnapped by the army, the Civil Patrols for the army, etc. There are local organizations who do this, taking their DNA, etc., and a lot do voluntary work. But they need money to travel to the old military bases, talk to many people in the villages where these bases are and abandoned, help people with the travels to come and go, etc. And there is a museum next to the old train museum with information, and the comunitaria-press contributes to bring these news out in the public.Right now I know of a man, Salomon Estrada Mejia, who has a brother missing since 1982, and those in charge of this missing person museum, who are in need of funds to continue. So, I do not know what foundation would be willing to help in a direct manner. Our people are as such organized and would very much want to find their dear ones and give them Christian burial. Let me know if you know of one in Texas or any other state, involved in this kind of work. …. Always, your missionary friend, Evie.”
So, if you have had a desire to be able to practice this particular corporal work of mercy, and want to check off of your list ‘burying the dead,’ here is an opportunity to do so.
If you would like to contribute something to assist these poor and simple people to locate the remains of their loved ones, and give them the blessing of a Christian funeral, I would be happy to send it on to Sr. Evie. I must stress that since this is not a recognized, tax-exempt charity, any such donations would NOT be tax deductible. However, it would go far to assist people still hurting from a disastrous time of war and repression.
We all get MANY appeals during this holiday season. We all have our favorite charities; I know I do. But we don’t often get requests to help bury the dead. Well, this is one of those opportunities. And having known Sr. Evie for a long time, I know they will make every penny go as far as possible.