Diocesan News

Diocese Offers Prayers for Guatemalan Volcano Victims

By Marietha Gongora

One of the most moving moments, right, was when the Guatemalan Anthem sounded and natives of the Central American country sang with their hands over their hearts. (Photos: Marietha Gongora)

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio joined the prayers of Pope Francis after the eruption of the Volcán de Fuego, the worst natural disaster in recent memory in Guatemala.

The tragedy of great magnitude occurred on June 3 and left more than 100 dead people and almost 200 missing, mainly affecting the departments of Chimaltenango, Escuintla and Sacatepéquez.

Guatemalans from different parishes in Brooklyn and Queens attended the Solidarity Mass for Guatemala that was celebrated June 20 at St. Finbar parish, Bath Beach. Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros, diocesan vicar of Hispanic Affairs, was the main celebrant.

At the altar, he was accompanied by Father Michael Louis Gelfant, pastor of St. Finbar, and other priests as well as parish Deacons Hector Blanco and Anthony Favale.

“Pain and joy have to be shared,” the bishop said during his homily. “The pain, the suffering, and the Cross belong to everyone.

“We are united in prayer with our brothers in Guatemala, to them all our affection. We feel admiration for their courage and testimony in these difficult times,” the bishop said, addressing those present, most of whom were of Guatemalan origin.

“The message of Jesus makes us reflect on our present, gives us the strength to face it with courage and hope in the company of the Holy Christ of Esquipulas and Our Lady of the Rosary who always walks with us,” the bishop added.

Bishop Cisneros informed the faithful that Bishop DiMarzio had asked for a collection to be taken up at the Mass to help those affected by the disaster.

Prayers for victims of the Guatemalan volcano eruption and their families were offered at a diocesan Mass June 20. Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros, diocesan vicar for Hispanic Affairs, was the main celebrant of the Mass at St. Finbar Church, Bath Beach.

Prayer and Action

“Prayer yes, but also action,” said  Bishop Cisneros, who highlighted the generous contributions of parish communities such as St. Finbar.

At the end of his homily, Bishop Cisneros invited parishioners to participate in a moment of silence – to close their eyes and focus their attention on a heartfelt prayer for the souls of the children, adults and grandparents who were killed by the sudden eruption of the volcano; for their relatives whom today mourn their loss; and for the hundreds of people who, despite the intense searches, are still missing.

“The response here has been pretty good. The Guatemalan people have shown that even though we are far away, we are with them,” said Ana Puente, pastoral support specialist in the diocesan office of the territorial episcopal vicars.

Puente also said that there are parishes that are considering sending groups of volunteers to Guatemala to assist in the different recovery tasks.

Editor’s note: The diocese will host a second Mass to pray for Guatemalan volcano victims at Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, Jamaica, on Sunday, July 1, at 11 a.m. Bishop Cisneros will be the main celebrant.