Garden of Love Deeply Planted: St. Sebastian Parish and Teosinte
by Phelia Lorenzen, SHARE Supporter
To think that in 1991, a citywide delegation from Milwaukee to El Salvador planted the first seed for St. Sebastian Parish to partner with Teosinte — a small, isolated village high in the hills of Chalatenago.
At the time, Teosinte, a repatriated community from a refugee camp in Honduras, was only three years old. In great need. Fifty-two families, starting from scratch to farm the mountainous hills of the area, had begun a long journey to create a viable, sustainable, cohesive community. St. Sebastian people’s hearts were touched, and a strong, loving partnership began and continues to strengthen. The garden flourishes.
St. Sebastian immediately adopted the “three pillars of accompaniment” that were the guidelines of The SHARE Foundation (coordinator for sistering programs in El Salvador): physical accompaniment, spiritual accompaniment, and financial support.
Physical accompaniment takes form in many ways with St. Sebastian. They arrange regular delegations to the community so delegates can walk the garden — live in home stays with the families, play with the children, dialogue with the Directiva, taste new foods, hang out with the kids, and share mass, along with general community fiestas. At home in Milwaukee, the Teosinte/El Salvador Committee prints a quarterly newsletter for all parishioners that includes events in Teosinte and personal letters from community members and scholarship recipients. It provides information on national events in El Salvador that affect Teosinte, such as human rights, mining issues, trade issues, and elections. In advocacy, the parish devotes time to Romero week, and it embraces U.S. issues such as shutting down the School of the Americas where so many graduates murdered and disappeared Salvadorans during the hateful civil war of the 1980’s. This is an active parish, ready to walk with the residents of Teosinte on whatever level is needed. Nothing seems to diminish the nurturing of this garden.