Keeping a “Really Big Family” Connected during COVID-19

Among the many poor parishes being supported by Catholic Extension during the Coronavirus outbreak is San Rafael Mission in rural Huntington, Utah – a community that knows the great value of life.

The mission is led by a bilingual and multicultural Mexican-American couple, Ruben and Rosario who, like those they serve, moved to Utah to seek employment in the coal mines and other rural industries.

Ruben and Rosario have a deep appreciation of the restorative role of faith communities in the face of devastating loss, because 13 years ago their community experienced one such tragedy.

Ruben, is a coal miner, who witnessed nine of his co-workers and fellow parishioners get buried alive in the infamous Crandall Canyon Mine collapse.  Not only was Ruben part of the rescue effort, risking his own life to try to save those who were trapped inside, but he and Rosario, led the pastoral outreach to his co-workers’ families who were devastated by the sudden loss of their loved ones.

This experience with tragedy played a large role in motivating Ruben and Rosario to take part in an intensive Leadership Formation Program, offered through the Diocese of Salt Lake City and funded by Catholic Extension.

Today, in the face of the coronavirus, they continue their ministry, supporting a community that is now frightened and worried about finding work. 

Although 80% of their parishioners do not use email, they are creating phone trees, to help keep their faith community united, which they refer to as “our really big family.”

That family extends to Ruben and Rosario’s son, a researcher at a Boston lab focused on conquering the coronavirus. As he works on defeating the virus, his parents work on defeating how the virus destroys people’s spirits.

They are willing to do everything they can to keep their Catholic faith community strong at San Rafael Mission… but they cannot do it alone.

San Rafael Mission and poor faith communities like them need your help to continue their outreach in this time of great uncertainty and fear.

Please express solidarity with impoverished faith communities affected by COVID-19 by giving to our coronavirus response virtual collection basket, praying with and for us and inspiring others by sharing this story. 

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