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Project of the Week—Cuba

Help for the training of 17 future priests at the seminary of Santiago de Cuba

When Pope Saint John Paul II visited Cuba in January 1998, he appealed to the young people, telling them, “Christ is walking through your life and saying to you ‘follow me’. Don’t close yourselves to his love. Don’t simply walk by on the other side. Take him at his word. Everyone has received a call from Him, and He knows each one of you by your name.”

The seventeen young men who are currently training at the seminary of the archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba were no more than little children at the time. Yet that was exactly their own experience: Jesus called them by their name and they followed his call. And this despite the fact that the Catholic Faith in Cuba still suffers oppression after almost half a century of communist rule. For though in theory most Cubans are baptized Catholics, only around 2% regularly attend Holy Mass. There is a widespread popular piety among the people, and Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, the Cuban national shrine, is beloved of almost every Cuban, yet in the field of evangelization there is still a great deal to be done.

“We need priests to minister to a people that is wounded in its soul,” says Father Martín Chevarría Vaca, the rector of the Santiago seminary. “The goal of our seminary is the evangelization of the Cuban people via the formation of native Cuban priests. The fact that even more young men have come forward than in the previous year is a source of great joy for our Church, which never ceases to pray for vocations.”

A Poor and Growing Church

Nevertheless, it costs money to train future priests. Food, water, electricity, teaching materials medical care, clothing and the salaries of the academic staff—all these things need to be paid for. And prices are climbing ever higher in a country that has been stuck for years now in a profound economic crisis. And on top of this, during the time of the pandemic there have been additional costs for safety measures and protective equipment. 

The Church in Cuba is poor. So we are supporting the training of these 17 future priests with a contribution of $12,835. For no vocation must be lost, merely for lack of money.

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