By Rick Dixon, MLM
There are approximately 60 Small Christian Base Communities in the Parish of Saint John the Baptist where I’ve been a Maryknoll Lay Missioner for nearly five years. The parish is located in Cojutepeque, El Salvador. Our communities meet weekly, usually on Friday or Saturday. Each community reads the upcoming Sunday Gospel using the Lectio Divina method and the four meetings of the month follow this scheme: week one, celebration of the Word; week two, visiting the sick (or a “social” outreach); week three, sharing a meal together; and week four, formation. Each week there is also a theme and short reflection. This theme has revolved around the Year of Mercy during 2016. Each community also takes a turn in organizing the parish soup kitchen. In the community that I’m with we also do a family literacy program as half of the adults in the zone are illiterate.
Our communities are maturing, yet it is still difficult for them to get involved in systemic change on a local or national level. For example, in 2015 a water law — making water a human right for all Salvadorans — came to a vote before the national legislature. It didn’t pass, thus water is still treated as a private resource for companies to sell and use for profit. Yet, as far as I know, no base community wrote to their representative or did any activity to promote water as a human right.
People in Cojutepeque are still very traumatized from the Civil War years (1980-1992), and many believe taking their faith into the realm of protests or even writing letters to their representatives is a political act which still causes much fear. “Protests are what caused the war,” I’ve heard people say.” “We should not bring politics into our meetings,” others say. Thus our communities are in great need of understanding the process of a popular democracy and how this fits into our faith perspective.
Rick Dixon, MLM
Cojutepeque, El Salvador