Leaving Honduras – 1999 – 2021


Leaving Honduras – 1999 – 2021

MMM first went to Honduras in the aftermath of the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
The journey of MMM to Honduras began at the 1997 MMM Chapter, when a decision was made to open a new mission in Latin America. Sisters Mary McKearney, Renée Duignan and Rita Higgins, and lay woman Mary Egan, were assigned from the USA. MMM USA had done research on possible ministries in Mexico City and, after language school, the group entered a process of discernment to explore these possibilities. They found that the reality had changed.

During the discernment, a call came from the Congregational Leadership Team alerting them to the situation in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch. Two Sisters went to Honduras from Mexico to do research and they saw the devastation first hand. They also contacted NGOs and the Honduran Conference of Religious. On their return to Mexico it became clear that God was calling MMM to Honduras. On 1 May 1999 the group arrived there to establish a new mission in Marcala in the Diocese of Comayagua.

The Sisters tell the story. ‘We joined the parish pastoral social ministry and established an integrated health and development project among the indigenous Lenca people who live in isolated mountain communities. We were involved in natural medicine, home pharmacies, stove making and training traditional birth attendants. Mary Egan started a “Teacher at Home” programme, providing education opportunities for students from marginalized families. MMM continues to support this programme.

‘As levels of trust increased we worked more with the most vulnerable groups. We developed an integrated health programme in schools and formed women’s groups. The project raised awareness by building capacity and self-esteem. We encouraged women and children to recognize and break negative cycles of behavior and provided information on health, human development and human rights issues. We also supported women with Pap smear screening. Participation in the groups helped children to develop their creative skills and build their confidence.

‘We promoted formal education and collaborated with like-minded organizations. In Marcala Parish, a pastoral care team was formed to visit the sick and the elderly in their homes.

Moving on
‘After 15 years in Marcala, Sisters Bernadette Heneghan and Cleide Daniel da Silva moved to Siguatepeque and began working in the parish of Meambar, 40 km northeast. The project focuses on capacity building in health and human development, awareness-raising on human rights issues, and care of the environment. Sister Margaret Nakafu arrived in 2016. She works in Siguatepeque Parish in pastoral, social and youth ministries.

An urban ministry
‘In 2004, Sisters Renée Duignan, Joanne Bierl and Rosalinda Gonzales opened a new mission, Casa Visitación, in Choloma, in the Diocese of San Pedro Sula. The emphasis is on integrated health care and human rights issues. In response to emerging needs and through the generous contributions of benefactors, a new centre was constructed. We provide services through an outpatients’ department, complementary therapies, counseling, dental services, income-generating activities, workshops, nutrition, home-based care, community pharmacies, and pastoral social work with community volunteers. Casa Visitación has networked with the diocese, parishes, NGOs, the ministry of health and other organizations, sharing resources with them. Sisters Maria Gonzaga Namuyomba and Danielle Darbro also contributed to that mission.

Sharing the gift
‘From the beginning we have been immersed in the daily lives of the people. This has been a blessing, enabling us to share the MMM charism of healing. We have been enriched by the people’s openness, generosity, trust and hospitality. We are grateful for the mutual working relationships with our co-workers that enabled the Sisters and staff to fulfill our mission. We appreciate the collaboration of the many volunteers and benefactors who have been our partners.

‘One of the joys of getting to know the local people was that some were attracted by our spirituality and wanted to have a deeper relationship with us. There are now 20 MMM Associates in Honduras and many are involved in our projects. To our delight they are committed to continuing to live our MMM charism into the future, with the support of MMMs and AMMMs.

‘Because of personnel constraints MMM decided to hand over our projects in Honduras by the end of 2021. A succession plan was put in place.

Handing over
‘Now we celebrate the positive impacts that our presence has had in the lives of the people. Many have imbibed a sense of integrated health care for their families and communities, as well as awareness of human rights, care of the environment, etc. We, too, have been transformed by the people’s deep faith and resilience in face of the challenges of corruption, drugs, violence, extreme poverty, and the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters.

‘It is difficult to move on from a place in which we have invested so much of ourselves, and again it is a matter of discerning when it seems the time has come. As we leave so much of our hearts behind us in Honduras, “in hope and love we are ready to walk in paths that are new” (MMM Constitutions 2.6).’

MMM finally withdrew from Honduras in December 2021. The departing Sisters were: –
Pictured L-R are: Sisters Bernadette Heneghan (Ireland, Europe), Margaret Nakafu (Uganda, Africa), Renée Duignan (Ireland, Europe), Rosalinda Gonzales (Philippines, Asia) and Cleide Daniel da Silva (Brazil, Americas).