By Esther Prexl
Feb. 2017 Saint Rose of Lima Catholic School is located on Isla Trinitaria – a poverty-stricken, dangerous neighborhood of Guayaquil, Ecuador – where the school and parish are an oasis amid the muddy streets where gang activities and crime are daily occurrences. The school tuition is $24 a month, which families scrape to cover, because, as Father Jose Hinostroza, the parish pastor, relates regarding the school “ They teach moral values that are not taught in any other school. Plus the campus is drug free and no gangs”.
Two years ago Couples For Christ/Parejas Para Cristo gave its first Christian Life Program at Saint Rosa de Lima Parish, and has gone on to offer 3 more CLPs since then, with great success. Five households (two Handmaids and three Couples) play a vital role in parish life, and CFC/PPC is slowly changing the crime-ridden game plan of the neighborhood, including developing a youth program as well as supporting other parish ministries. A cadre of 14 CFC/PPC members, now form a support group of local missionaries, who are reaching out to other parishes offering CLPs/PVCs in neighboring areas.
However, the school is in trouble. Built in the late 1990s, the physical plant is slowly disintegratin g and does not meet with city building codes. In the fall of 2016 the Parish was notified that the school could not open its doors to its nearly 400 students for the next school year unless immediate repairs were addressed and a long range plan was developed to address all the pressing needs. CFC and ANCOP USA have generated enough seed money to cover the most basic areas the Ministry of Education required to be addressed this year, to permit the reopening of the school in February (they are on a coastal semester schedule) but major repairs and renovations need to be taken care of to avoid permanent closure of the school. CFC Handmaids from Coral Springs, Florida, and the CFC/PPC households from Saint Rose of Lima, have conducted fund raisers to replace the classroom white boards and purchase new desks, but the bulk of repairs and renovations is still outstanding, with a range of $200,000 +needed to cover costs.
This is truly an opportunity for Couples For Christ/Parejas Para Cristo to make a profound impact on Saint Rose of Lima Parish, by insuring that the Catholic school there – which is a beacon and source of hope to many families -remains open for years to come.