St. Thomas Parish is proud to have a “sister relationship” with Immaculate Conception Parish in Comapa, Guatemala. Diocese of Jutiapa. (Parroquia de Inmaculada Concepción, Comapa, Guatemala. Diócesis de Jutiapa.) The emphasis is on “relationships,” to come to know the challenges of life faced by some of our poorer brothers and sisters in the Third World – and to especially know some of the persons involved in these challenges. The relationship has blessed St. Thomas Parish through learning about our sister parishioners, the faith we share, and the different ways in which we practice it
Comapa is located in Southeastern Guatemala, near the El Salvadoran border. While the main church of our sister parish is in Comapa, members of the parish are spread out over many miles in 30 remote villages in the region along the Rio de Paz (Peace River)
A Sister Parish envelope is included with our monthly contribution envelopes. Since this relationship began in 2001, we have blessed our Central American brothers and sisters of Immaculate Conception Parish with over $100,000 in financial support.
Three women of our parish made a personal visit to Comapa in 2005 and brought back with them the beautiful gift of the Crucifix which hangs in our chapel. Our financial donations help this parish with funds for their operational expenses such as: the religious sisters, school formation and catechists, providing benefits for the sick, and expenses of running the parish.
Throughout rural Guatemala, people commonly cook upon indoor open fires. This method of cooking is inefficient in its use of wood fuel. The indoor stoves have also been linked to high rates of respiratory illness and infant mortality. In 2007 St. Thomas was able to provide funding to build 10 smokeless wood stoves using local labor. The smokeless stoves contain the fire in a brick, cinder block, mortar, and clay fire box, thus increasing the cooking efficiency and also eliminating indoor air pollution by venting smoke outside by a metal chimney. The stove is topped with locally made tiles and a prefabricated steel cook top.
Currently, St. Thomas is helping our sister parish to pay for a four-wheel drive pick up truck used by the priest to travel throughout the geographic boundaries of the parish and minister to parishioners in the 30 oratorios (chapels) built by communities that belong to Immaculate Conception Parish in Comapa. The great distance from the main church to these villages usually prevents them from traveling to the church for weekly Mass. The priest, catechists, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion travel to the villages to provide the sacraments, pastoral care, and opportunities to share the Word and learn more about the Catholic faith.
The beautiful clergy stoles that are displayed on the altar at Masses the second weekend of the month are gifts that were handmade by members of our Sister Parish and are used as a reminder of our solidarity with them through the Eucharist and Mass. The Sister parish Committee meets after 10 a.m. Mass on the first Sunday of the month. You’re invited!