Michael Wojcik 2018-01-10 23:33:28
Priest, evangelization leader travel to Nicaragua to give faith-formation talks MADISON Fresh from his Dec. 2 to 9 mission trip to Nicaragua, Brian Honsberger opened up his Facebook page to find lots of love still bubbling more than 3,000 miles away from a Catholic community in the city of Matagalpa that he helped form in the faith through a series of talks. The assistant director of evangelization for the Paterson Diocese received about 75 “friend” requests on social media from this faith community — a testament to how much he touched their lives and how much they touched his in such a short time. On a mission for Christ, Honsberger traveled to Matagalpa — the fourth largest city in the impoverished Central American nation — with Father Agustino Torres, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal of St. Michael Friary at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Paterson, to give several talks on Catholic subjects to the young-adult community of Corazón Puro (CP) there. Father Agustino helped found the CP community in the Paterson Diocese and others around the world, including in Matagalpa — nestled in a forested valley in Nicaragua. They are part of the international CP organization, formed under the guidance of the friars, which seeks to shape leaders inspired by the life and theology of St. John Paul II, to become Christ-centered, pure of heart, joy-filled agents of change, in the city and out of the city, in this country and around the world” states its website, www.corazonpuro.org. “It’s one of the most beautiful cities that I have been to and it’s a very Catholic area. They have great faith, but can improve in their knowledge of it, especially in the areas of Scripture studies and teachings of the Church,” said Honsberger, whose office is at St. Paul Inside the Walls: the Diocesan Center for Evangelization at Bayley-Ellard here. “Father Agustino and I gave talks to help form them in theology and encourage their spiritual growth. But I also learned a lot from them, especially their commitment to their community. I was forming them but they were forming me as well,” he said. Soon after Honsberger’s return to the Diocese, praise from the CP community in Matagalpa poured in on Facebook, including from member Alejandra Baiza. “There are not enough words to explain the gratitude I have for getting to know a wonderful soul like yours. Thank you for your encouragement, peace and willingness to always serve. You are such a true example of a missionary spirit,” Baiza wrote, originally in Spanish. In the CP center in the heart of Matagalpa, Honsberger delivered talks in English with the help of a Spanish translator to help energize the community. He spoke about evangelization; Pope Francis and his apostolic exhortation, “Joy of the Gospel;” how pastoral leadership differs from secular leadership; St. John Paul II’s teachings about sexuality and marriage, known as Theology of the Body; strategic planning; and celibacy. He said that, in part, he drew on his experiences at St. Paul’s and his religious reconversion in his 20s. “My main point was that, for me, knowing the teachings of the Church was not enough. It’s only when I learned the reasons for those teachings was I inspired and motivated to live according to them,” said Honsberger, who often cut in half the length of his talks — which lasted from 15 minutes to an hour — to allot time for the Spanish translation. Father Agustino, a Hispanic priest and a native of Texas, delivered his talks in Spanish. He spoke about such subjects as the history of CP, its mission and its future and fraternal correction: helping sinners get on the right path but in a loving way. An international chastity and pro-life outreach speaker, he was scheduled to give more talks, but instead, ended up spending time talking to the CP members, who were excited to see him again, since he had established the community. The priest also heard confessions and conducted spiritual direction on the trip, Honsberger said. The more than 300 CP members there also inspired Honsberger in his faith journey. He was impressed that they established and continue to maintain and staff a CP center with an army of volunteers. Partially because of a rather slow economy, the young adults in the city have much more leisure time than in the U.S., and spend their daily free time with each other as a community of faith. A representative democratic republic, Nicaragua has weathered periods of fiscal crisis, political upheaval and dictatorship — which all caused the Nicaraguan Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s and the Contra War in the 1980s. “The people there invest themselves in the organization. It’s like family,” said Honsberger, who noted that about 33 local CP leaders and several CP leaders from Florida and Texas were visiting Matagalpa, during their trip. “The community’s reverence for worship also inspired me — the music and the dancing. We in the U.S. might call it charismatic but they would just call in normal,” he said. Honsberger and Father Agustino stayed at a Franciscan Friary, tucked in the mountains that overlook Matagalpa. On their visit, they took a heartbreaking side trip to a garbage dump, where they saw children with no food or shoes scavenging through the trash. They brought the kids rice and rolls, which “made them so happy,” Honsberger said. Like the community in Matagalpa, Father Agustino has been establishing CP groups around the world. Having started in the Bronx, the organization “seeks to become a resource to parishes and missionary discipleship; promote the Theology of the Body; serve the poor; form leaders; support the call for discernment to married, priestly or religious life; and create a Culture of Life,” according to its website. “Today, there is a crisis in marriage, dating and vocations. Young adults are looking to belong and they’re not finding it on the Internet. They can find it in Corazón Puro, which provides a community and formation. It also steps in with guidance, when these young people are making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives,” said Honsberger, who has been friends and ministered with Father Agustino for five years. “There is a worldwide need for Corazón Puro. We are so fortunate to have it in the Paterson Diocese,” he said.
Published by The Beacon. View All Articles.
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