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The priest celebrant stresses that there are North Americans who are friends of the Nicaraguan people.

Weston Benedictine Monks
Journey to Nicaragua
Winter Retreat, 2001

Remembering Managua, 1988:
The churches

(ONE OF A SERIES)

JANUARY 1988 (continued): Of special interest to us is the involvement of the church in the process of this new vision for Nicaragua. As in so many other places and situations, the response of the church is mixed.

Brothers sing at Mass in a church in Managua
Brothers sing at Mass in a church in Managua

Some of the clergy enthusiastically support the new direction of the country. We attend an evening mass at a new and modern church in Managua. The evening is pleasantly warm and balmy and people stand around the entrance chatting. The congregation is a mixture of the young and old, the poor and the not so poor. As a group of North American brothers and Mexican sisters, we are readily identified as visitors.

The pastor greets us and he asks if we will sing a few of our songs during the Eucharist. Friendly ushers lead us down the center aisle to front rows in the beautifully appointed church. The colorful murals behind the priest and altar table are striking. The sanctuary is open and spacious. There are no obstructions in the body of the church and this results in an intimate feeling even as a large crowd of people assembles.

The musicians with drums, guitars, and tambourines are off to the side of the sanctuary and they provide lively and engaging accompaniment to the very active congregational singing. We recognize the leader of the music group as a prominent Nicaraguan musician and composer.

A full church at evening Mass
A full church at evening Mass

At the homily the priest celebrant takes the opportunity to introduce us and welcome us to the church and to the country. He stresses that there are North Americans who are friends of the Nicaraguan people. In his homily, he speaks of the Gospel and social justice. The mass is concluded with a few of our songs and expressions of gratitude all around.

Weston brothers and Mexican sisters with Ernesto Cardenal, government minister of culture
Weston brothers and Mexican sisters
with Ernesto Cardenal, government minister of culture

On Sunday morning, we go to the church where the Cardinal usually celebrates Mass. Since the old cathedral was badly damaged in the earthquake during the '70s, he celebrates in one of the older traditional-style churches. It is located in a middle-class section of town and a large crowd of well-dressed people fills the church. The Cardinal is out of town this week, so one of his secretaries is celebrating the Mass.

Later we have the opportunity to meet with him and he speaks of the hardships under the present political regime. It is a surprise for us to hear Violeta Chamorro speak from the sanctuary before the dismissal of the Mass. Little did we realize that she would succeed Daniel Ortega and be elected President two years later.

Next: Some experiences of the journey:
The wounded children, the United States embassy

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