St. Anne Catholic Community
2019 Lenten Almsiving
During the aftermath of the Cuban revolution, Catholics were punished for living their faith: their parishes were shuttered, their missions taken away from them, and over 131 priests were expelled from the country, leaving communities without a place to celebrate Mass and catechize their children. In 60 years, the Catholic Church shrank from almost 70% of the population to 1%.
Last weekend Fr. Rafal Januszewski, a Polish diocesan priest stationed in Cuba, shared many stories with St. Anne parishioners about his casa de mission (mission home) community. His descriptions gave us a better understanding of the hardships imposed on Cubans by their government. He spoke of both the physical and spiritual hunger that he encounters. His stories gave St. Anne a sense of our solidarity with the people of Cuba, stories of
--stories of people returning to Church after decades
--stories of Catholic Extension’s work to transform homes into chapels and build/refurbish new churches
-- stories of casas that become soup kitchens for the homeless and the elderly and the congregating space for humanitarian assistance when disaster strikes such as Hurricane Irma from 2017
--stories draw to Church created by a Sunday afternoon baseball game and an afternoon
The remnant of the Catholic Church in Cuba is a testament to the resilience of its people who have carried out important pastoral work for 60 years, despite overwhelming challenges. The work of Catholic Extension is to open places of worship, and the work of missionaries like Fr. Rafal is to invite the people in. Our work is to pray for them all, to fast so we have that same sense of hunger, and to provide alms that help make it all move forward.
More so than being Church structures, casas de mision are places of respite where the Cuban people can find hope amidst their hardship. While humble in appearance, they are rich in faith.