The Diocese of Orlando has partnered with the sister diocese of San Juan de la Maguana in the Dominican Republic for thirty years, empowering the people and improving lives through educational and medical services. The Annual Collection for the Mission Office on September 21 will raise critical funds that allow this outreach to grow and meet the needs of the people of the small mountain village.
Father Fred Ruse, a diocesan priest who is pastoral minister in the Dominican Republic, brings the Sacraments and faith formation to children and adults. “While there are some folks from Florida who can come to spend time with us in the mountains, others cannot, and this collection enables them to be with me and to be with the communities in our mountains and walk with them as they live and grow in being a church,” said Father Ruse. “In this fashion, this collection is one vital way we are a church together; in solidarity with people who are hidden in those hills and so far removed from the basic services and benefits we often take for granted in other circumstances.”
Last year’s collection raised over $460,000, allowing for the expansion of the middle school and providing urgent medical and surgical services for people in need. Money raised in this year’s collection will go towards a vocational center for students with special needs, a new high school dormitory, additional classrooms in the schools, and the training of new principals and teachers. Thirty-five scheduled mission trips, including three medical missions, over the next year will bring the support, resources, and love of the people of the Diocese of Orlando to the people of San Juan de la Maguana.
“For 30 years we have been involved in working and reaching out to our brothers and sisters in need and I think it’s a beautiful ministry in many ways,” says Bishop John Noonan. “Anyone who has ever gone there, their lives have been changed forever.”