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The SVD district of Cuba has just celebrated 30 years of pastoral presence on the island.

On June 12, 1988, Father Germán Rodríguez arrived on the island of Cuba, the first SVD who began to attend a parish with a roofless church.

Today in the Cuban Church there are ten SVDs serving in nine parishes and a Biblical Center. The bishops of Cuba are very grateful for the missionary work of the Divine Word Missionaries since the Cuban Church lacks priests and religious.

This year, the District of Cuba celebrated 30 years of SVD presence on the island. On June 11-15, 2018, a meeting was held between the SVD and lay collaborators from the different parishes served by the SVDs.

The gathering took place in the Convivium House of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in El Cobre. It was an opportune occasion to thank the laity for their collaboration in the SVD mission and to highlight the importance of the role of the laity in the Church.

On the first day of the gathering, Bishop Emilio Aranguren, Bishop of the Diocese of Holguín-Tunas and President of the Conference of Bishops of Cuba, presented the theme "The Church and the Laity in Cuba; in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the Magisterium of the Latin American Church". Bishop Emilio, on behalf of all the bishops of Cuba, personally thanked the Congregation for its generosity and missionary service in the country.

The following day, Professor Eusebia Sánchez and Engineer Silvia Bru, both from the Commission of the Laity of the Diocese of Guantánamo - Baracoa, gave talks and testimonies on "Consecrated life and the laity: a vocation and a common mission". On the third day, Gianini Sahagún and Jhonatan Romero, national coordinators of the Auxiliary Missionaries of the Divine Word in Mexico, shared "the spirituality and mission of the laity associated with the SVD".

The meeting culminated in the celebration of the Eucharist at the National Shrine of the Virgin of Charity. The Mass was presided over by Msgr. Hector Luis Peña, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Holguin-Tunas, and the first bishop who invited the SVD to render missionary service in Cuba. In his homily, Bishop Peña thanked the SVD for having responded to his invitation to collaborate in his diocese and highlighted the lay people present who are the fruits of the missionary work of the SVD.

Fr. Hans Weibel, District Superior of Cuba, expressed his gratitude to the laity for their tireless collaboration; without them the mission in Cuba could not be carried out. Some 500 pilgrims from the different parishes served by the SVD joined the Divine Word Missionaries to offer thanksgiving to the Lord and to Our Lady for the "30 years of service to the Word in Cuba".

--- Fr. Francis Ylagan, SVD

Posted in the newsletter “Arnoldus Nota” - August 2018

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