We are creating community

by Luis Cuyun

As some of you may know, for the past few years my family and I have been active in Saint Joan of Arc’s Sister Parish committee, which has maintained a successful  relationship with the parish of  San Marcos Evangelista in Tierra Nueva II, Guatemala, for over 20 years!

We began our journey with Sister Parish on Easter Sunday, at Saint Joan of Arc, four years ago. On our way into mass, our attention was immediately grabbed by the unexpected appearance of a colorful alfombra (sawdust carpet) – traditional in Guatemala – right here in Minneapolis, of all places. It created an immediate connection to home.

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This small interaction quickly became a meaningful commitment that summer, as we participated in activities during a delegation from Tierra Nueva II to Minneapolis. Sister Parish found a regular place in our family’s calendar of activities – a way to teach our children, as well as ourselves, the value of Solidarity and Social Justice, regardless of location and distance. For our children, Sister Parish is yet another way to maintain their connection to Guatemala. We have met delegates visiting Minneapolis and we have visited our friends in Tierra Nueva II, when we travel to Guatemala.  We are now part of a larger community that encompasses both Minneapolis and Guatemala – a larger “village” in which to raise our children.

Sister Parish is about building relationships, with a focus on social justice, in collaboration with our brothers and sisters in Guatemala. Traditionally, partnerships between faith communities have worked on the model of “charity,” or “mission,” with one partner assuming the role of benefactor providing aid and support to the other.  Sister Parish does not follow this framework – we are not about charity, we are all about SOLIDARITY – and there is a major difference.

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We are creating community – a community that reaches beyond our borders bridging our two parishes in a relationship of mutual respect and friendship. This relationship goes on, day in and day out, throughout the year, culminating in delegations that go both ways – North to South and South to North.  During these delegations, not only do we have the opportunity to see our friends from far away in person, but we also share the incredible opportunity to learn from one another and support one another in our celebrations, as well as in our tribulations. It is solidarity.

We are building bridges, binding us together, working toward a common goal for a common future – a better future, a more just and equitable future – here in the United States, as well as in Central America. Because it was never us and them, it has always been WE.

Currently, Luis participates in the Board of Directors and Zamara helps organize activities to highlight social issues and build community within our church and across countries. The kids go back to help make the alfombra every Easter.

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