American Martyrs Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has provided an inspiring example of how a committed and mobilized Catholic parish can transform lives through its generosity and action. Under the leadership of Monsignor John Barry, this faith community gives real witness to Christ by showing compassion to families with urgent needs.
Father John and his parishioners have built a unique friendship with their brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima in Guatemala — and it all began with a mission trip facilitated by Cross Catholic Outreach. On that first trip, the missionary group from American Martyrs encountered Christ in the poor. Since then, an unfolding story of love has changed hearts and lives in both Central America and the U.S.
On subsequent trips, American Martyrs Catholic Church helped fund and construct safe homes for families in need. With assistance from their local Knights of Columbus council and other parishioners, Fr. John and the parish also helped build and resource a beautiful chapel in the village of La 46. Once a shack with dirt floors, a leaky tin roof and no walls, the chapel can now host up to 200 parishioners for Mass, prayer groups, Bible studies and spiritual retreats. Plans are already underway for a second chapel to be financed and constructed in another community with dire need.
Additionally, the parish funded a new roof for the chapel in La Concepcion, Guatemala, which services almost 1,300 parishioners. “Considering the pandemic in which we live, sending that aid to our community is the response of our Lord Jesus Christ to give us a worthy place where Holy Mass is celebrated,” said Jesus Pantaleon, a member of the La Concepcion community.
American Martyrs also supplied and helped install gutters and a new tile floor at Hogar de la Niña Santa Rosa de Lima, a home for orphaned and at-risk girls. The building was in need of serious repairs, and these improvements are giving girls a positive, safe environment in which to grow. In addition, parishioners provided the local Caritas staff with operational support and also rescued families suffering from malnutrition during the pandemic by supplying food baskets that blessed 1,112 people.
During multiple mission trips, Fr. John was able to provide the Guatemalan community members with spiritual nourishment as well. Due to a shortage of clergy, many locals only receive the Eucharist every four to six weeks. Fr. John celebrated daily Mass in various villages and brought the Eucharist to hundreds of spiritually hungry parishioners.
Due to travel restrictions caused by the global pandemic, American Martyrs has focused its recent efforts on mobilizing local resources to continue meeting urgent needs in the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima. Guatemala instituted one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, which severely hindered the villagers’ ability to work and secure food. American Martyrs responded to this crisis by sponsoring food packing events in November 2021 and in January and March 2022, bringing the whole parish together to pack and send hundreds of thousands of meals.
Alongside parishes and schools across the country, American Martyrs participates in the Box of Joy ministry, too. Boxes of Joy are filled with gifts, The Story of Jesus and a rosary. They are then distributed by Cross Catholic Outreach ministry partners in eight countries to impoverished children who wish for just one gift.
Cross Catholic Outreach is blessed to have Fr. John and the committed parishioners of American Martyrs as partners in these vital works of mercy. May God bless them abundantly!
To engage your parish in meaningful works of mercy through Cross Catholic Outreach, visit CrossCatholic.org/church.