Father Fred Ruse, pastoral minister to our sister diocese in the Dominican Republic, is visiting Orlando for one of two annual visits to his home base. This three week visit is an opportunity to meet groups around the Diocese and explain our mission that is located in one of the most impoverished areas of the Dominican Republic.
“I give a face to what it means to be a sister diocese,” said Father Ruse. He tells the stories of people who live out their faith in various ways. For example, he tells of the woman at a local parish who handmade dresses for the girls in the Dominican Republic to wear for their first Holy Communion.
He says being a sister diocese is not one way giving –but a process of giving and receiving.”People who go on the missions are changed and they bring that change back to their schools, homes and churches so that our Diocese is changed.”
People who go on mission trips often think about what aid or assistance they can provide. “But they receive a lot more than they give,” said Father Ruse. “They receive a new sense of living simply, a greater awareness of our limited natural resources and they receive a new sense of what is really important in life,” he added.
“We’re companions. The theme of mission for me is one of accompaniment,” said Father Ruse. “I’ve never been happier or healthier,” he added.
During his visit, Father Ruse also spoke of Bishop Jose Grullon Estrella of the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana who is celebrating 20 years as bishop. During that time, he has worked to meet the pastoral needs of the community, such as increasing vocations to priesthood and religious life, building chapels and administering the sacraments. But he has also worked to meet the basic human needs, which the local government does not provide.
The bishop and his chancery staff, which includes engineers, have built an aqueduct system to provide clean water and they have used a Church owned bulldozer to establish roads to the remote mountainous villages. The Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana has also created literacy programs for adults, started a radio station to broadcast educational content and supplies discounted medicine through various pharmacies.