How mission dioceses in Puerto Rico are tireless in their commitment to serve.

The Caribbean islands trigger imagery of people without a care in the world, spending their days on hammocks between palm trees and sipping drinks with tiny umbrellas. But for the people that call Puerto Rico home, life is far more than just a day at the beach. The Puerto Rican communities that Catholic Extension donors support are tireless in their commitment to serve the Church and to provide faith and hope for people whose lives are filled with hardship.

Nearly 300 Puerto Rican priests and lay ministers gathered in Ponce, Puerto Rico for an administrative leadership event hosted and sponsored by Catholic Extension. The number of participants was inspiring, as ministers are stretched thin on the island and often don’t have spare time for professional development. But they travelled from all over to discuss best practices in matters of financial and personnel management. Halfway through the daylong seminar, on a blisteringly hot day, the air conditioning broke in the sports complex where they gathered. Despite the oppressive heat, participants were unfazed, and determined to take advantage of this rare opportunity. When it was all over, people dismissed the uncomfortable surroundings and expressed how incredibly thankful they were for the workshop.

Later that evening, parishioners of Ss. Peter and Paul Church met in the small town of Puente Jobos.  Here, there are as many stray animals roaming the streets as there are people. The parish of 700 parishioners needs new offices, and, in lieu of new space, is currently using a picnic table outside the church. For years the parish has been fundraising and saving for a much-needed renovation. Their efforts, coupled with a $75,000 commitment from Catholic Extension donors, mean that parish leaders will finally have a place to coordinate everything from religious education to neighborhood outreach. They hope that their work will help reverse the rampant cycle of drug abuse, domestic violence and criminal behavior that plagues the small, inner-island community. 

One of the parish leaders expressed thanks: “We feel so blessed that there are Catholics throughout the U.S. who are sacrificing for us by giving to Catholic Extension.”

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Ponce (Puerto Rico)

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