by Becca Nelson Sankey
The dioceses of Tyler and San Angelo and the Honduran dioceses of San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba started the celebration of their Hermanamiento partnership anniversary on Aug. 9 with work and prayer.
The Hermanamiento is a 15-yearold alliance between the two Honduran dioceses and the two Texas dioceses that stemmed from relief aid the latter provided the country after Hurricane Mitch in 1998. The Hermanamiento became official with a covenant agreement signed in San Angelo on Sept. 11, 2001, according to a news release from the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo.
Representatives from the various dioceses met in San Angelo and Abilene Aug. 8-12 to both celebrate the Hermanamiento and establish plans for its future. The meetings kicked off Aug. 9 at Christ the King Retreat Center with a Mass, during which San Angelo Mayor Dwain Morrison read the proclamation commemorating the partnership. The Mass was celebrated by San Angelo Bishop Michael Sis, Tyler Bishop Joseph Strickland and Honduran Bishops Angel Garachana and Michael Lenihan.
“The very first thing we do is celebrate the Eucharist,” Sis said. “Bishop Angel Garachana made a very good point at the start of the Mass. He said, ‘The Eucharist is the source of and the summit of the entire life of the Church.’ ”
Monsignor Larry Droll, pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Midland and a part of the Hermanamiento since it first began, added: “We Catholics consider the Mass as the highest form of prayer, so it was important to begin our conference with a Mass. We try to have a Mass every day” of the conference.
The Tuesday morning Mass, however, was particularly special because of Morrison’s proclamation reading of the Hermanamiento covenant’s renewal, Droll said.
“I believe the last time a mayor gave us a proclamation was in September of 2001” when the Hermanamiento covenant was signed, Droll said.
The proclamation reads, in part: “As bishops, conscious of undertaking a long road in conversion, communion and solidarity in September 2001, we responded to the call given to us by His Holiness St. John Paul II, to promote communion among dioceses, encouraging the faithful to live this communion more and more…”
As part of the proclamation convent, the dioceses agree to “keep the flame burning of being partner churches in faith, communion, in the evangelizing mission, and solidarity”; “encourage each other in dialogue, fraternity, and mutual learning”; “search for avenues of effective solidarity as an expression of communion in sensitive issues of our reality that affect the evangelizing mission of our diocese”; and “enhance the mutual enrichment of the faith expressed in popular piety.”
With Aug. 8 and 12 reserved for travel to and from the conference, Aug. 9-11 were booked with activities, Droll said.
“We’re going to have meetings where we’ll be sharing experiences and pastoral insights from our four dioceses,” Sis added. “And we are going to finalize the document that formalizes the continuation of our partnership.”
Sis said the Hermanamiento gathering is held every year but rotates among the dioceses involved. It was last held in San Angelo four years ago, he said.
Droll said it’s important to meet every year for the sake of continuity.
“It would be hard to maintain if the activities were not at least annual,” he said.
The Hermanamiento unofficially began as a response to Hurricane Mitch, which “sat for a week over Honduras and caused tremendous destruction to the entire country,” Sis said. “The 14 dioceses of Texas at the time paired up with the seven dioceses of Honduras. What we were trying to do was help them out financially.”
The dioceses of Tyler and San Angelo stuck with the partnership the longest, Sis said, largely because of the leadership and commitment of their partnership teams. Droll, particularly, has been “the driving force behind its success,” Sis said.
The Vatican recently divided the San Pedro Sula Diocese into two and created the Diocese of La Ceiba, bringing to four the number of dioceses involved in the Hermanamiento, Sis said.
The Hermanamiento is mutually beneficial to all those involved, he said.
“We grow in solidarity, and we deepen our understanding and cultural awareness,” Sis said. “There’s a mutual enrichment by getting to know one another.”