Congratulations to Bishop José Grullón Estrella, of our sister Diocese San Juan de la Maguana, on the twentieth anniversary of his Episcopal ordination.
20 years as Bishop of Mgr. José Grullón Estrella 1991 – 2011
Celebration Zonal – province of AZUA – 12 March 2011
– How beautiful above the mount are the feet of the Messenger that announces peace.
– 20 years walking in communities in the province of Azua as Bishop of this diocese of Azua, San Juan and Elías Piña.
– The Lord said to me “Go, I send you”, with a cloud full of blessings, and the strength of the Holy Spirit to a people which already had the Gospel in their hearts, so that you are a part of a shared bread and so that you break their chains with the power of love, with a flower – a lily, as that of Mary’s. This is reflected in my Episcopal coat of arms.
– I want to thank God for these 20 years. The Lord has been with me in these five (5) aspects of my mission as Bishop in this province of Azua:
- “Go, I send you”
It was He who sent me, using Holy Father John Paul II and others who dealt with my choice. I had already been chosen from my mother’s womb. He gave me the faith since my birth, gave me a family with loving parents who procreated 8 siblings; gave me a community, a people, a nationality, the Dominican. He gave me his priesthood 40 years ago. After 20 years of a beautiful priestly life He sent me from El Cibao, Santiago and the Northwest line to Azua, San Juan and Elías Piña.
We are all sent. Let us say to one another in the name of the Lord: “Go. I send you”.
(Choir a stanza of ‘Boats and Nets’: “Upon looking at the boats, I also saw the nets, who were still and abandoned, I contemplated the sea that had fish, those without direction and no one to fish…”) Pull the nets… (What are you waiting for?!)
- I have been sent with a blessing and a power
He did not send me with money, or with material powers but empty- handed, but with a blessing in my heart. The same blessing which accompanied me during my 20 years of priesthood exercised in Santiago: Cathedral, Santa Ana, Los Jardines and in Villa Vasquez Guayubin, Mao and Esperanza. A blessing granted by Him for me to support my bishops Msgr. Roque Adames and Bishop Jerónimo Tomás Abreu. A blessing He increased by sending me here so that I may pass it on to you. That we can all feel that “we are blessed by the Lord”.
(Choir a stanza from “Blessing to Blessing, so he promised to those that are faithful…”)
I have been sent with a power, with the power of the Word and of his Holy Spirit.
With those two powers God made heaven and Earth. He gave me a crosier, as he did with Moses, a cane so that I could touch a rock and draw water. This people have that power of the Word and the Holy Spirit; you have it, with it you have been changing your own reality, there has been a social change, you have grown spiritually, but have also improved human and material aspects. You have the power of God, that is why we can say “If we want to, we can” with Christ everything is possible, without him, we cannot do anything.
(Choir a stanza of “With power, with, with, with power… moves the hand of God”)
With power manifested in weakness. As did Moses, we have, by mandate of the Lord, placed our hand inside our clothes, inside our hearts and having removed it, we discovered that it is covered with leprosy, sin, and misery. We are here to recognize that if the Lord had not forgiven our sins we would be unfaithful people, without the strength and the power of the Lord.
- I have been sent to a people who have the Gospel in their hearts.
For 20 years, I have been sent as Bishop to a people who have the Holy Gospel written in their heart. The Lord asked me to seek to read the Gospel in your hearts. That is what I have done and I have found not only love and affection towards me, but genuine expressions of faith expressed in your religiosity in the devotion to Jesus Sacrament, our Good Shepherd, to the Virgin Mary by virtue of La Altagracia, Las Mercedes, Del Carmen, Our Lady of Lourdes, La Milagrosa…
I have found in you a great solidarity in the pursuit of solving problems, your mutual assistance and in the sharing of one another. How much good has been done! – you have had so many achievements in your human and spiritual journey. God has chosen you as disciples and sent you as missionaries. (Choir a stanza of Missionary Soul: “Lord, take my new life I am prepared to do what you want, no matter what it is, just call me to serve, take me where men need your words, need my will to live, where hope is lacking, where joy is lacking, simply because they don’t know of you… “)
- To be a broken bread
” I have tried to be bread, I have allowed myself to be broken so that I may be shared by you, visiting the communities each year, listening to the cries and the clamor of each community, trying to give a hand through the Social Pastoral institutions that we have created – FUNDASEP, CARITAS, CEDAJUR.
- And so to break the chains with the power of love
I have believed that the problems, difficulties, limitations, slavery, which are our chains, are not broken with violence but with love, just as the Virgin Mary as a Mother who loves us has won us over as her children. Blessed be our mother, the Virgin Mary!
A SUMMARY OF THESE 20 YEARS
The loud cry and clamor that God heard and that flowed from Israel is the same we have heard in this province of Azua. People and whole communities without clean drinking water or paved streets, no schools, no Chapels; without bathrooms or sanitary services.
On the spiritual side, without catechists, without assembly celebrants, longing for the sacraments, and very few vocations. In response to this cry we have tried to organize ourselves as a diocese in both the human and spiritual aspects with zoning, the creation of parochial districts and of new parishes and strengthening the areas of church life, strengthening of the zone of Azua, creating Radio Hearts with its frequency 88.7 FM for the city of Azua, Radio and Communication School Santa María and literacy programs, building roads, aqueducts for water supply, restrooms, schools, chapels, and micro-credit programs. In 1991, there were only three parishes in the Azua province – Los Remedios of Azua, Sagrada Familia of Sabana Yegua, Our Lady of Carmen and the quasi-parish of Peralta. In the past 20 years we have been opened the following parishes in the province of Azua:
- Our Lady of Lourdes de Peralta.
- Our Lady of the Yayas Altagracia.
- Sacred Heart of Jesus of the Bombita of Azua.
- Good Shepherd of Azua.
- San Isidro of Estebanía.
- The Miraculous of The Ponds.
- The Mercedes of Pueblo Viejo.
- San Isidro of Guayabal.
- Santa Cruz of Tábara Arriba
- San Pablo of the Plena of Azua as a center Las Barias
- And today we are creating the Parish of Christ Crucified, the co-patron of Saint Joseph, at the Municipal District of Las Lagunas.
We now have two permanent deacons at the Province of Azua, 37 Presidents of Assembly, 5 new diocesan priests and 9 religious priests.
We have managed to get the province from 34 % of non-declared birth to less than 7% and there is a fierce Declaration of birth program currently ongoing.
Nine Catholic schools have been started in the province of Azua: 1-Buen Pastor, 2 – Las Yayas, 3 – La Bombita (operating H.), 4-Center Teresa Toda, 5-Padre Las Casas, 6-Sabana Yegua, 7-Villa Corazon de Jesus, 8 – Las Canitas Guayabal, 9-Guayabal…
In 18 years, from 1997 to 2010, our bodies of Social Pastoral Programs, the Foundation for the Development of Azua, San Juan and Elías Piña (FUNDASEP) and Caritas, have managed to secure funds to link to your contributions towards the development of their communities.