A Glimpse of Mission History
In 1958, as the Catholic Church in Rome called for greater involvement of clergy and lay people in world missions, the Diocese of New Ulm responded by launching a diocesan partnership with the Diocese of Sololá, Guatemala. Father Greg Schaffer, a diocesan priest from New Ulm, began serving as pastor of the San Lucas Mission in 1963. In partnership with local leadership, Father Greg pioneered social justice initiatives to address both the immediate effects of poverty and its underlying causes.
San Lucas was once a small village of cornstalk homes with thatched roofs, lacking both electricity and plumbing. There were neither health care facilities nor schools and women and children suffered severely from the lack of healthcare, with many women dying in childbirth and children suffering from malnutrition.
A lack of access to education perpetuated discrimination against the Maya, who were consequently unable to find employment other than on the coffee plantations. The inaccessibility of land ownership for the Kaqchikel people has resulted in one of the gravest injustices: an inability to feed one’s own family.
Since 1963, the Mission of San Lucas has attempted to address all of these historic injustices. Shaped by Catholic Social Teaching and the tenets of Liberation Theology, the programming of the Mission has been designed to build on the strengths of the people of San Lucas in an effort to create a more just community.
These are some of the earliest photos we have of Father Greg’s life and work in San Lucas.
Friends of San Lucas partners with and advocates for the San Lucas Mission by supporting its locally-led programs. Through relationships, we believe that hearts and minds can be transformed.
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