Sisters, you walk with us, USA
April 2, 2016
Highlights of the Nicaragua Pilgrimage include visiting the Montanita Mission, the climb and view from Peña de la Cruz, and interacting with the people.
What was it that made our third annual Nicaragua Partnership Pilgrimage so special, and what were the “highpoints” of the experience?
January 11-18, 2016, marked the first time that the Pilgrims came from across our country, from “SNDUSA”: Ohio, Covington, and California. Four SNDs (Sr.Jennifer Marie Zimmerman, Sr.Nance Marie Hehman, Sr.Mary Janet Kondrat, Sr.Marie Manning) and one laywoman, Beth Greisl, bonded quickly as they shared this special experience of walking with our missionaries and the people of Nicaragua. “Walking” was both a reality and a metaphor for the pilgrimage, reminding us of a young Nicaraguan’s comment that Sr.Mary Dolores (Dolly) Mikula shared several years ago, “Sisters, you walk with us.” The Jinotegan people’s love for our missionaries was evident from the very first day, when we walked down the new road with Sister Mary Charlotte Hobelman, while children and adults poured out of homes to welcome us.
The walk down the new road from our hostel, Cuculmeca, led to the missionaries casa where children and young people often gathered to join us in fun activities: kite-flying, piñatas, dynamicos (ice-breakers), songs, dances, and games. The precious children’s faces will never be forgotten!
Walking around several barrios (neighborhoods) with parish Eucharistic Ministers who visit the elderly, disabled, and homebound, gave us a glimpse of how Sangre de Cristo parishioners live and a deepening appreciation of our missionaries’ ministry of presence and accompaniment. Learning to make tortillas, the daily bread of the people, added a new skill to our resumes!
An exhilarating ride up the mountain to the Montanita Mission Church, and a steep walk up to Pena de la Cruz were literal highpoints of the Pilgrimage experience. Once again we were warmly welcomed, this time by a small community, where we joined in a vibrant prayer service, led by a woman Delegate of the Word. Afterwards, Beth ventured to follow our faithful driver, David, as he hiked up to the cross at the summit of the mountain. With a little coaxing by a friendly Nicaraguan man, Sister Marie followed. Truly, these experiences were very special ones, to be cherished in our hearts and shared with all the Sisters of SND-USA!