Archives For June 2017

“Without fear, we defend your life, my life, and our common home.”

“Defendemos sin miedo tu vida, la mía, y nuestra casa común.”

Not long ago, a small community in rural Honduras declared itself mine-free and hydroelectric-free. Villagers were fed up with “development” projects that ruined the environment, caused devastating illnesses, and cut off their water supply.

However, that democratic decision hasn’t stopped one greedy company from illegally beginning to construct a power plant on the local river. In an act of resistance, the villagers have decided to block the road to the river until the company changes its mind. Today, I went with Radio Progreso, a social justice ministry of the Honduran Jesuits, to visit the protesters and record their story.

19197720_1789804471035739_257055504_o

(“We want water for life!”)

After introducing ourselves to everyone present, we sat down with some of the community’s leaders for a recorded conversation about the conflict with the power company. Despite horrible threats, they are firm in their commitment to protect the local water supply.

IMG_1558

(Filming the round table)

IMG_1564

(More filming, now with the beautiful natural backdrop)

IMG_1542

(The encampment that blocks the road)

At the encampment, the protesting villagers eat, sleep, and–above all–block the road. Their presence is constant because they know that the company would take advantage of any blip in their commitment.

Following the recording of the round table discussion, we went down to see the river.

IMG_1576

(The beautiful river the community hopes to protect)

Initially, the power company destroyed this part of the mountain for easier access to the river. The trees are gone, weakening the soil. When the rains come, the soil will flow into the river and make it undrinkable. Apparently, the company considers this destruction a “mistake.” Even if it were a “mistake,” they should not have been there in the first place!

IMG_1572

(The tree-less mountain)

19204974_1789804614369058_845154283_o

(The Catholic Church’s solidarity: a Claretian, a Jesuit, and me)

On the left in the picture above, a local Claretian priest has shown support for the community’s cause. He claims that Pope Francis has encouraged the Church to be actively involved in the preservation of our common habitat.

IMG_1595

(The stunning landscape of the community, a landscape that lumber companies are destroying)

IMG_1606

(After the filming, the trip to the river, and some time for fellowship, we went to the local parish to have some coffee.)

You can check out Radio Progreso’s Youtube page for more information about our visit, the protest, and other social justice concerns in Honduras.

Best wishes in Christ,
David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.

“La Fragua Theatre’s actors haven’t been recruited from academies or universities, but from poor and marginalized neighborhoods.”

“Sus actores los ha reclutado no de academias o universidades, sino de barriadas populares y colonias marginales.”

–Carlos M. Castro

IMG_1506

(A slightly delayed flight from Miami to Honduras)

A flight from Miami to Honduras kicked off my two month visit with the Jesuit community in El Progreso. My goal for the trip is to write an academic article about one of the most innovative cultural phenomena in the country: La Fragua Theatre, a small company seeking to forge a Honduran society conscious of its rich cultural heritage and critical of the systems of power that seek to undermine it.

IMG_1509

(The theatre’s logo, inspired by indigenous art from Copán)

A great example of a person who uses his privilege for good, Fr. Jack Warner, SJ, founded the theatre in 1979 with the desire to use drama as a means of cultural expression at the service of the poor. Many of the company’s actors come from marginalized communities, but they find at La Fragua hope for their personal and communal futures. Much of this hope stems from a restoration of and reengagement with the nation’s Mayan roots.

IMG_1511

(The main stage)

On the main stage here above, the actors gather daily–except Sunday, of course–for musical practice, theatrical exercises, passionate exhortations, and rehearsals. Just a few days ago, one of the theatre’s most experienced performers preached movingly to the rest of the troupe about the example of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the Salvadoran martyr-saint who faced assassination after speaking in favor of a Christ-inspired socioeconomic structure benefitting the poor. The theatre seeks to honor Romero’s legacy by presenting both Christian and secular plays “from below,” that is, with the mind and heart of the oppressed.

IMG_1514

(The Jesuit community’s patio)

The Jesuit community in El Progreso, Honduras, has a rich tradition of solidarity with the poor. In the town Jesuits run schools, radio programs, social justice centers, and parishes that embody our twin mission of instilling faith that does justice. The Jesuits in El Progreso live humbly; despite the constant, infernal heat, the Jesuits’ rooms have no air conditioning or insolation. The meals are simple and reflect the diet of the local population.

IMG_1527

(A sunset view of the soccer field just outside the Jesuit community)

El Progreso’s landscape is picturesque. Mountains surround the burgeoning city. In the afternoon and evening, storm clouds gather and bring a refreshing rain that provides much-needed relief from the heat.

IMG_1530

(The Jesuit chapel at San José Catholic Institute)

The Holy Spirit is the life source of the Jesuits’ tireless work in El Progreso. It is Christ who commissions his apostles to receive the Spirit that fortifies them for the opus dei, the work of God that continues in God’s people today. I pray that the Spirit with continually renew our fruitful mission in Honduras. I also pray that the Spirit will bring me closer to the people of El Progreso during my stay and behind.

Best wishes in Christ,

David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.

Justin Bieber preached movingly, “God is good in the midst of the evil… He loves you, and he is here for you. I just want to take this moment to honor the people that were taken. We love you so much… Put both hands up to honor those people right now.”

adriana-grande

[Ariana Grande performs for 50,000 in Manchester, UK two weeks after a terrorist attack at her concert there killed 23. (handout)]

The Ariana Grande Benefit Concert and the Catholic celebration of Pentecost have quite a bit in common. “Both are stories of people who witness brutal deaths but soon find the courage to proclaim the victory of life and love over fear and death. Both are stories of people who gather from different nations to hear a transformative message of hope in the wake of tragedy. More to the point, like the early apostles, the performers and attendees of the Manchester concert claim two basic beliefs: (1) death is not the end and, therefore, (2) we should have the courage to stand for mercy and peace even when it puts us in great danger.”

Read more of my reflection at The Jesuit Post, link below:

My Jesuit Post Article on Ariana Grande and Pentecost

Enjoy. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts and/or reactions.

Best wishes,
David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.