Archive | November, 2011

Campamento Goals

23 Nov

From the first campamento, our goals have been:

  • To spend time with the girls

  • To create and maintain a lasting friendship

  • To develop the girls’ self esteem

  • To teach the girls English

  • To gain spiritual insight from the Sisters and the girls

  • To take a break from our usual routines, both the girls’ routines and the travelers’.

Principles of Sister Parish Partnerships

22 Nov

1. Emphasize relationship over resources
A true partnership builds and nurtures a familial relationship over a period of time, a relationship that transcends any single act of working together (such as a project) or of sending a check. If the partnership is based on resources, then the partner with little material resources is excluded from fully participating in the relationship except as a receiver. But when the relationship is valued above all, it allows for mutual participation and transformation. All are invited to participate equally; we all have the ability to love, pray and be present to one another.

2. Practice mutuality and equality
True mutuality allows each of the partners to function from a place of strength rather than weakness. We each must acknowledge the wholeness of the other. We must be alert to the historic imbalances of power between developed nations and poor countries and how that inequity plays out at all levels of a relationship. We need to intentionally incorporate opportunities for dialogue, planning, assessing, challenging and reflecting together in order to not to fall into the trap of the giver and receiver, of the superior and the inferior.

3. Seek to give and receive, learn and teach
In fact, our poverties are an invitation to another to share their gifts, affirming their value and contribution. This requires a spirit of humility, recognizing that we are mutually interdependent and in need of each other.

4. Work to change unjust systems and structures
If we mindfully focus on the relationship, ask open-ended questions, and learn from our partner, they will invite us in to see and understand their reality – their joys and celebrations, as well as their sorrows and struggles. We begin to recognize the unjust structures and systems that often keep people in poverty and are challenged to gently confront our own role and contribution to this injustice, whether through our inaction (e.g., when we allow important legislation to pass or fail unchallenged) or more actively though our consumer choices, our level of consumption, etc. We are called to work to change those systems and/or our own personal habits and activities for the sake of those we have come to know and love as well as for others who share the same challenges.

5. Deepen our faith by experiencing the universal, catholic church
Our partnerships calls us more fully into St. Paul’s image of the church as one body of Christ, with many unique parts offering different gifts yet unified in Christ. As the Reverend William Nordenbrock of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood explains, “If we approach tour partnership as a mutual sharing within the body of Christ, then in our desire to evangelize, we receive the gift of being evangelized, of having our faith renewed.” We are challenged by our partner’s witness of faith amidst adversity. As we come to know brothers and sisters of faith from a culture other than our own, we learn new ways of understanding the Scriptures, and we see new models of being a parish community. We concretely experience out oneness in Christ and are encouraged to expand our sense of shared humanity, not only with our parish partner, but with all God’s people in the universal church.

Background – Part 2

19 Nov

Two parishioners headed down on cheap ($98 each!) tickets the following winter to see the place first hand. They saw the good work that the Sisters and girls were doing at the home. They asked what the Sisters would want from a relationship with the Church of Saint Edward – money, supplies, clothing? No, they wanted to build a personal and spiritual relationship with parishioners through a Summer camp, or “Campamento”.

The girls live in the home because their families cannot take care of them. Many mothers have died in childbirth or due to malnutrition or other poverty related complications. Other mothers work long hours for very little pay and cannot supervise the girls while they are working. Many of the girls do have extended family. They are not “up for adoption”. The girls are well behaved, healthy girls with capacity to succeed in school.

The girls live in the home during the school year. They attend the Catholic schools in Azua. One weekend per month the girls return to their families. In this way the girls maintain a connection to their roots and the girls provide a positive influence in the community. Many of the girls return from these home visits hungry and dirty, but they are maintaining these important bonds. In the summer, the girls return to their families except for two weeks when they go back to the Hogar for “Campamento”. Before our relationship the Sisters ran a camp. In 2001, we started by running one week of the two weeks. Since then, we’ve held one, two, or three week camps, based on the number of travelers who volunteer.

We need 6 to 10 travelers per week of camp. Travelers spend one week at camp. Travelers pay their own way, including travel, passports, travel clinic, and other incidentals. Once there, we are hosted by the Sisters, including food, housing, and transportation within the country.

Betania missed her first camp this year to work at a daycare center in the Capital. She is so confident and beautiful!


17 Nov

Welcome to the 2017 Campamento Blog

The purpose of this blog is to inform and organize volunteers for the 2017 Camp at the Hogar Teresa Toda which is lead by Church of Saint Edwards parishioners, staff, and friends. It takes many to “make camp happen”.  This is one place to learn more.

Girls in their Campamento 2011 shirts


The Church of Saint Edward in Bloomington, MN, has had a relationship with Hogar Teresa Toda, a girls’ home run by Carmelite nuns, since 1997. The home is in Azua, about 2 hours west of Santo Domingo.

The relationship began when Bloomington Rotarians dug a well for the home. The Rotarians had only planned to dig another well in the region, but the Sisters convinced them to dig a well for the new home also. After digging and digging, the crew was not hitting water. The prospects were looking grim until the Sisters gathered the girls in a circle around the hole. In the limited Rotarian Spanish and Carmelite English, the Rotarians asked “What’s going on?” The head Sister said “You dig, we pray.” Within minutes, the crew hit water, fresh water, enough water for years and years to come. After that success, the Sisters expressed interest in maintaining a relationship with an American organization. This was not in the scope of the Bloomington Rotary, but someone there knew a Saint Edward’s parishioner.

More in the next post!