A man smiles and raises his hands toward heaven as he stands in front of a concrete-block home.
Mario Alvarez said he’s praying for all the people who helped him have a new home that he will share with his special needs daughter.

New Homes Provide a Strong Foundation So Families Can Build a Future of Hope

I want the friends of our ministry who gave so generously to build sturdy new homes in Guatemala to know how much their acts of compassion achieved. In addition to lifting families out of abject poverty, protecting them from storms and giving them a secure place to call home, those donors let families in that area know how much they are loved by God and the Church.

I wish every one of those donors could have been there when Father Francisco Hernandez told us, “You are the face of God to these families, and we will continue to keep you in our prayers!”

Fr. Francisco, who ministers in these remote villages, clearly sees the Lord working through our recent Rise Up With Joy campaign. Moved with compassion, U.S. Catholics gave generously so the Diocese of Suchitepéquez-Retalhuleu could build 64 cement block homes for families living in leaky, dirt-floored shacks. The campaign also expanded agriculture aid, initiated a health ministry, expanded a scholarship program and distributed more nutrient-rich meals than ever.

I recently was blessed to meet some of the faithful families touched by these gifts. Despite the overwhelming poverty in rural Guatemala, their joy was overwhelming! They had only one way to explain all of the changes in their long-suffering villages — it must be the work of the Lord!

To help you understand how transformative this outreach has been, let me share the story of one of the specific families blessed by this gift of a new home.

Two women share a laugh as they stand inside a home built of sturdy concrete blocks.
Sylvia Morales, front, and her daughter, Sandi, are filled with joy over having a safe home for the first time.

The Gift of a New Home and New Joy

One of the new homes we were able to provide has blessed the Morales family with strong walls, a sturdy roof and a gift they value above all — safety for their children.

“We always feared, especially for the girls, that we would be bitten by snakes,” explained Sylvia Morales, a grandmother who lives with three of her granddaughters and their parents.

I am touched by the gratefulness of Sylvia’s daughter, Sandi. Rains no longer soak her daughter, Antonia, and turn the old home’s dirt floor to mud. “It feels so good to know she is safe,” Sandi said. “We don’t have to worry about the storms during the night, especially those times when we had to wake up Antonia and move her because she was getting wet.”

The family had always hoped and prayed for a sturdy house but were frustrated by low-paying farm jobs that left them with only enough money for food. “My sons used to say, ‘God is going to bless us with a home,’” Sylvia said. “Now, I tell them, ‘Look! God has provided!’”

This is our second year of building new homes in partnership with the Diocese of Suchitepéquez-Retalhuleu, and we look forward to reaching many more families!

A priest raises his hand in blessing over a group of women who have their heads bowed in prayer.
Father Francisco blesses women who are about to receive keys to their new homes.

A Joyous Celebration

Our team members will long remember a joyous house-blessing ceremony that was filled with prayer, laughter and the grace of God. Housing recipients profusely thanked the Lord — and everyone who supported our campaign!

Sonia Ortiz offered this heartfelt message to our friends: “You are the channel God used so we could have a safe house. I thank you so much.”

As a mother, I am touched by Sonia’s joy and that of the other moms who can now protect their children. Maxima Quinteros said her heart used to break every time rain fell upon her leaky, dirt-floored shack. “My children would say, ‘Momma, it’s raining, and we are getting wet. As a parent, it’s very sad not to be able to provide something better for our children. But thanks to God, we are safe now.”

The ceremony was highlighted by Fr. Francisco praying for each family and blessing the house keys they would receive — the first house keys they ever owned. Maxima said her precious keys would always remind her of the generous U.S. Catholics. “May God bless you because God is working through you. We carry you in our hearts. We never tire of praying for you.”

A group of women smile and clap as they sit in chairs as part of a larger gathering.
Community members cheer at a house-blessing ceremony to celebrate the new homes built for their friends and neighbors.

Contagious Joy

I praise God when I see the blessings of safe homes come to more and more remote villages, thanks to our faithful supporters. Mothers in these communities are filled with joy that their children are waking up safe and dry each morning — and so are their neighbors!

 “Other families see their neighbors receiving a home and feel very happy and grateful to see their neighbors get a new home,” said Victor Garcia, the housing technician for the diocese’s Caritas outreach. “It gives them hope that they will receive a new home too.”

Our friends who gave so generously to our Rise Up With Joy campaign nurtured this growing sense of hope by funding:

  • New homes for 64 families.
  • Seeds and fertilizers for 400 families harvesting family gardens or small fields of corn and beans.
  • The startup of a health ministry that has already provided 345 villagers with care and medications.
  • Scholarships and education support for 65 children.
  • The distribution of 1.3 million protein-rich meals for hungry children and families.

Minor Otzoy, assistant director of Caritas, said he feels “the presence of God” every time he meets with a family celebrating a new home, a harvest or even a simple meal. “When a blessing comes to families through Caritas and Cross Catholic, it is like paradise for them.”

Thanks to our compassionate friends, God’s paradise is unfolding before these hardworking and faithful people!

Donate to Make a Difference

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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.