Fr Jordan Gongora of the diocese of Belize City-Belmopan said it was truly an enriching experience to interrelate and learn from the 59 bishops from Central America during their recent annual gathering in San Salvador, El Salvador.
The diocese’s Bishop Lawrence Nicasio appointed Fr Gongora to represent the country at SEDAC (Secretariado Episcopal de America Central), the Episcopal Secretariat of Central America and Panama.
During the week-long gathering (November 27 to December 1), reports on dioceses were given and debates on several issues pertaining to the Church and society held.
Also present were four Cardinals including Marc Ouellet PSS, Prefect for the Congregation for Bishops; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga from Honduras; Gregorio Rosa Chavez from El Salvador; and Jose Luis Lacunza from Panama.
According to a report from Fr Gongora, each bishop commented on the deteriorating state of political system in their respective country, noting these issues are not foreign to Belize as they too have its own problems in the political system. Fr Gongora’s full report was published in the monthly issue of The Christian Herald.
In it, he said the Central American bishops discussed the issue of immigration, Church liturgical norms and other matters. The closing Mass was held at the Cathedral of San Salvador where the faithful gathered to greet and celebrate Holy Mass with all bishops and priests. “Present at that Mass was President Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador and other government officials,” Fr Gongora said.
A pilgrimage to the birth place of Blessed Oscar Romero, was held on the last day of the gathering. Romero would have been 100 years old. Fr Gongora shared that the archdiocese of San Salvador began a series of celebrations to mark the centennial celebration of the birth of Romero.
He said, “The residents of Ciudad Barrios, birth place of the bishop martyr, received us with music, joy and a procession to the little church where Oscar Romero was baptised and prayed as a kid.”
The SEDAC meeting ended with a private Mass celebrated by the participating bishops at St Joseph Archdiocesan seminary in San Salvador.