Dear Sisters and Brothers –
Many of you know of our nearly 20-year covenantal relationship with our sister parish in Soyapango, El Salvador, Parroquia San Antonio. The bi-country ministry is called Las Vecinas, or The Neighbors, an apt name because the best connotations of being neighbors have characterized our relationship for two decades: we have become friends, we have lived one another’s joys and struggles, we help each other when and how we can, each is better for having the other in our lives. You can find more information on Las Vecinas on their Facebook page.
I mention this today because San Antonio’s beloved pastor and our dear friend, Padre Estefan Turcios Carpaño, died last Saturday of Covid-19. His death was a terrible shock to his parishioners, of course, but his spiritual leadership was truly a beacon for thousands of residents of Soyapango, one of the poorest and most violent suburbs of San Salvador. He was appointed pastor of San Antonio in the 1980s, during the armed conflict that afflicted El Salvador for much of that decade. His humble demeanor belied a fearless defender of human rights and a tireless worker as Director of Pontifical Missionary Works, a papal appointment. His holiness came from being grounded in his relationship with Jesus, which was evident always, and his credibility came from his steadfast love for, presence to, and work on behalf of his people. His trust in God and his sense of humor were among his greatest gifts to them. He was a personal friend of St. Oscar Romero.
Plans to remember Fr. Estefan at St. Ignatius are underway. Also, previously scheduled for the post-10am Mass Hospitality on Palm Sunday (May 23) will be a presentation on Las Vecinas and an update on our ministry with them. It will also be an opportunity to talk about how we can help Parroquia San Antonio in this difficult time. I encourage you to join us and to join me in praying for the repose of the soul of Fr. Estefan and for his parish.
In another transition, longtime parishioner Larry Simi is leaving the staff. You will remember that our previous Director of Parish Operations, Gary Price, left last June to take the same position at St. Dominic Parish, his home faith community. In the interim, I asked Larry if he would come out of retirement and step into the job “for three to six months, just to keep the trains running.” Well, he’s leaving after ten and a half months. And Larry has more than kept the trains running: he has overseen three hires, shepherded two strategic planning processes (an overall one and the antiracism plan), guided conversations about our investments and building maintenance, kept us grounded in our Ignatian/Jesuit ideals, removed things from my plate, and so much more. He has been generous and helpful beyond my hopes, and our parish owes him a great debt of gratitude. His fingerprints will be on various aspects of the parish for months and years to come.
The flip side of bidding adieu to Larry is to welcome Luis Muñoz as our new Director of Parish Operations. Luis comes to us from the hospitality industry, having been the Director of Operations for three hotels since 2006. He impressed the interview committee with his clear command of the professional aspects of the job and his evident care for both clients and staff, what we call and he’ll come to understand as cura personalis :) Luis says that he’s never been more excited to start a new job, and I told him that I am as excited for him to meet our wonderful faith community. I will be introducing Luis at Masses the next two weekends.
So, please pray for Padre Estefan, in thanksgiving for his life and that his ministry continues to bear fruit in the parish; for our sisters and brothers of Parroquia San Antonio, that the Lord hold them tenderly and guide them closely; for Larry Simi, in thanksgiving for his service and that he enjoy retirement again; and for Luis Muñoz, that God bless him through his new ministry at St. Ignatius Parish and that we be blessed by the gifts God has brought to us in him. And, as always,
oremus pro invicem,