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September 3, 2012

Dear friends:


Summer news: The medical mission came in July three days after the Marmion High School mission left. They don’t sleep up in the barrio Rancho Alto, but right across the street in the second floor of the soup kitchen-clinic building. Because of a misunderstanding in communication, the medical mission group this year was smaller than in the past, but they were just as successful. They saw many people, worked well with our clinic team here, used my treadmill, and talked with representatives of the Hospital José Obrero, of which the clinic is officially a branch. Since Paddy has been gone on holiday, and I have to say four Masses on Sundays, I wasn’t able to visit Quito itself with them, but we did go to the Mitad del Mundo (the equator) one Sunday afternoon. Dr. Colin Sumida and his friends brought and bought enough medicines to stock the clinic for another year. 


During the medical mission visit I was stunned by the news of the sudden death of my good friend Fr. Joe Ruiz of the Chicago Archdiocese. Some of you knew him. We go back more than 50 years, since the day I entered Mundelein Seminary, and I cannot imagine going home for a visit without meeting him. Our get-togethers have been kind of a “must” for me. He had a serious case of diabetes No. 1 for a long time, and had to take his blood sugar count two or three times a day. He was in residence in a suburban parish, said Mass on Sunday morning, and was supposed to meet a friend for dinner. When he didn’t come they checked his room and found him slumped over his desk next to a Diet Coke – he had a heart attack. He was an expert on centering prayer, and helped many people. He wrote a lot, and I’m going to get a copy of as many of his writings as possible.


Let’s look at the future. Usually when a foreign missionary comes into a Third World country they set up things which help the people. Then, after they leave a native priest takes over, usually, after two or three years the projects that have been set up begin to disappear. This is a constant experience for missionaries. But it doesn’t have to happen this way. My dream is that we can continue to support the soup kitchen, clinic, education center, and daycare center, even after I leave, which I eventually will do, as I am now 79.


It seems that we are now in new circumstances. Up until now the principal means of support for our work in Ecuador has been my mission appeals in the Joliet Diocese. So far I have made 35 such appeals, and these have been very successful. But since the economic crisis started three or four years ago, we receive considerably less money than we did previously. Also, because parishes have to meet their own needs first, pastors do not feel as free as they did before to let me make an appeal. As such, I sense that I have just about exhausted weekend appeals in the diocese and am now working on alternative means to appeal for help.


This was the principal reason that we started the Quito Barrio Outreach foundation (which is anchored by the Internet): so that these projects continue after I leave. People with know-how have worked very hard for many hours to make sure that the foundation is legal and that giving can be recognized as a charitable donation on one’s income tax – www.QuitoBarrioOutreach.org is an IRS recognized 501(c)3. We hope to have our good works be supported more and more by contributions coming through the website.


I must admit that as of now I am almost completely computer illiterate. Words like “Google”, “Facebook”, and the like are Greek to me. My next resolution is to make myself computer literate. But we are now on the Internet – www.QuitoBarrioOutreach.org  – and can receive donations there. We are now also on Facebook (friend Quito BarrioOutreach). We are meeting in October to “beef up” our skills on ways to using the Internet to help needy Ecuadorians become self sufficient.


On a side note, this has been a good summer to watch TV, especially since I’ve been alone. I’m glad we have the satellite. Right after the medical mission left, the Olympics were on, with many channels to choose, for two weeks. I kept cheering for the Americans. Only two Ecuadorians were even mentioned, and they didn’t win any medals. Then came the Republican Convention, and next the Democratic Convention. By now schools are starting and the summer is over.


Some tidbits: I have had many quincinieras (celebrations of a girl’s 15th birthday,) and one marriage this summer. The young people put on a long blast (party) in the barrio square, with many music groups, to celebrate my tenth anniversary as a missionary, and also to end the summer.


Lastly, a big change, as the parish goes, is that the house across the street, which has been the house for postulants (women preparing to be nuns, before their novitiate), has been changed to being the novitiate itself. So Sister Julia, who was there for many years as Mistress of Postulants, and was moved two years ago to be Mistress of Novices in the novitiate in the south of Quito, is coming back to her old place, but in a different role. Also, Beatrice and Sylvia, the two young women living in the house as postulants, will continue living here, but will be wearing a religious habit.  A “chica”, Maria Fernanda, who has been with us here in Rancho Alto as a missionary, will move into the house as well. 


I guess that’s all the news for now. My health is good. I’ll be home in October. Thanks for your love and support.

Fr. Don