Week One


Prepare Your Heart

Nilson and Deini Alvarez do all they can to create a loving environment for their young son, Mario, but there’s one gift they are too poor to provide — a sturdy home to protect him from storms and the threat of intruders.

Only the Lord can answer that prayer.

“We’ve been struggling for years and not been able to do all we need to do. I pray and trust that Our Lady will help,” Nilson said.

Through prayer, they maintain joyful hearts as they endure the hardships of living in a flimsy home constructed of old wooden planks and palm branches. The dirt floor turns to mud as rain pours in, often making Mario ill. Even worse, scorpions and snakes easily enter and threaten the boy.

A family in their home together.
Sunlight shines through cracks in the Alvarez home. But on rainy days, water streams in and turns the dirt floor to mud.

Please consider this family’s daily hardships as you begin Advent, a time when the Church invites us to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord. In our first reading on the First Sunday of Advent, the prophet Isaiah expresses his hope that God’s people will be ready when that day arrives. “Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways!”

For leaders of the Diocese of Suchitepéquez-Retalhuleu in Guatemala, doing right means bringing God’s mercy to their neighbors in need. With our help, the diocese can build a sturdy home that will protect Mario from storms and scorpions. Let us join with our fellow Catholics in Guatemala and prepare our hearts by doing right.

First Reading from the First Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7 (NRSVCE)

For you are our father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O Lord, are our father; our Redeemer from of old is your name. Why, O Lord, do you make us stray from your ways and harden our heart, so that we do not fear you? Turn back for the sake of your servants, for the sake of the tribes that are your heritage. … We have long been like those whom you do not rule, like those not called by your name. … As when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed. We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.  There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered[c] us into the hand of our iniquity.

Take Action: Make a Collection Box

You can make a difference in the lives of families like Nilson and Deini’s! Cross Catholic Outreach will provide you with collection boxes, free upon request, to collect money that will build new homes for families in Guatemala. You can also make your own collection box by decorating a small cardboard box or empty container with wrapping paper.

During Advent, add spare change by completing the activities in this guide or brainstorm your own creative ideas to raise funds. You can also donate weekly with the donation option below.


Learning Corner

Almost 60% of Guatemala’s population lives in poverty, which means most of the people cannot afford many of their basic needs. In fact, two-thirds of Guatemalans live on less than $2 a day.

In the U.S., that’s less than the average cost of a gallon of milk.

Many parents — including Nilson — are subsistence farmers, raising their own corn, beans and other small crops to feed their families. They hope for the right amount of rain to ensure a good harvest. Other parents work as day laborers on local farms doing difficult chores in the hot sun. They only get a few dollars in return. These families don’t have enough money to build or buy nice homes, so they instead build small shelters out of sticks, plastic tarps, rusty metal and any scrap materials they can find.

*Fact Source: CIA World Factbook, World Bank

Family Discussion

1. List some things that cost about $2.

2. List some things you need or use every day.

3. If you only had $2 to spend each day, what would you need to spend it on first?

Pray Together

Dear Jesus, thank you for the hope we have because of your birth, and thank you for the hope that we can look forward to when you come again. Thank you for the many blessings you have given us. We pray that you would bless families like Nilson and Deini’s, and we ask you to work through us to share your hope with them this Advent. Amen.

Donations from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.