March 31, 2019

As you may recall, eight parishioners (including me) are making a trip to the Dominican Republic (DR) through an organization called Education Across Borders. I am writing this on Tuesday, and we are leaving on Friday. So, by the time you read this we will be in the DR.

First, I want to thank you for your generosity in supporting this service learning trip that enables us to contribute to the lives of our brothers and sisters in the DR. We raised more than $6,000 in our three communities through special collections a few weeks ago.

These kinds of experiences of traveling to encounter our brothers and sisters in the developing world help to expand our vision and build solidarity - literally across borders. Our Sister Parish relationships in Uganda (St. Thomas) and Kenya (St. Joseph) have already blessed our communities with friends in Africa.

This trip to the DR will further expand our knowledge and experience of those who live very different lives than we do. This will be the third trip that parishioners from our communities have made to the Dominican Republic over the past three years and I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of this year’s trip.

The DR is located southeast of Cuba and west of Puerto Rico. The Dominican Republic is one of two countries on the island of Hispaniola. To the west is the country of Haiti and to the east is the country of the Dominican Republic. We will spend all of our time in the DR, with a day trip to the Haitian border on one of our days.

We arrive in Santiago late on Friday night and we will spend that night and Saturday night at a Jesuit retreat center in this north central city. We will make a day trip to the coast on Saturday and will spend our second night at the retreat center on Saturday.

On Sunday (the day you are reading this) we will take our bus southwest to the town of Franco Bido. This is the village where the coffee is grown that we use at St. Thomas and St. Joseph. We will spend three nights in Franco Bido, staying in the homes of local people and getting to know the coffee farmers and their way of life.

On Wednesday we will return to the retreat center in Santiago, and that will be our base for day trips to the western part of the country. We will learn about life for Dominicans as well as Haitians. We will depart the DR on Sunday, April 7, for our return flight.

That is the outline of our itinerary. At the heart of our trip will be the people we meet and the encounters we have with brothers and sisters in the DR. Each night we will spend some time reflecting together on our experiences that day.

I look forward to our return and sharing with you our experiences in the Dominican Republic. Please keep us in your prayers this week and know that we will be praying for you.

Fr. Gary Lazzeroni