OLMSTEDVILLE - For several years the parishioners of Saint Joseph's Church have conducted fund raising events with the proceeds given to the parish for specific needs. They contributed a large sum to the church when extensive renovations were done. Later they were able to refurbish old candle sticks and purchase Mass vestments and altar cloths.
When the pastor, Father Sturtz, told the parishioners he was planning to join the group of North Country Mission of Hope volunteers who were soon to travel to Nicaragua, they asked if they might help him finance his trip. Instead he suggested that they might rather be interested in contributing to the building of a home shelter for a needy family. The people immediately agreed, for they had $650 -- enough to build a dwelling.
Father Sturtz was informed by a member of the mission group that it is a custom to give the family receiving the needed home a picture of those who provided it for them. The family, he was told, reciprocate by praying everyday for their benefactors. Therefore, shortly before leaving for the mission trip, a photo was taken of the congregation gathered in Saint Joseph's sanctuary for that purpose.
On the third day of his missionary trip to Nicaragua, Father Sturtz joined others to first go to pick up the materials for the 12 by 12 foot home shelter. After meeting Yader Vallecillo of Cedro Galan for whom the home was being built, other locals joined Yader and went immediately to work. Within two hours the home was completed, blessed by Father and a picture of Saint Joseph parishioners given to the grateful owner of his new home. That same week the members of North Country Mission of Hope were present for home shelters built in memory of Bishop Cunningham and relatives and friends of other volunteers who had come on the trip with Father Sturtz. In spite of the shortening of the mission trip due to air flight delays because of a snow storm that blanketed the east coast of the United States, all the homes that were scheduled to be built were completed.
Since the Mission of Hope began the program of providing homes for Nicaraguan families, over 600 home shelters have been built. Marty Mannix, a regular participant of the Mission, has supervised the construction of all but 100 of the dwellings. He has seen that the program has developed to the point that now a special committee of Nicaraguans decide who are most in need of a proper shelter. In fact some people have had to wait two or more years before a home was available. Marty stated that those receiving home shelters must be involved in the construction under the supervision of Inocencio Velasquez, a member of the local junta who works with the home shelters projects. Furthermore, the people must assist in the building of other homes as well. It is the prayer of all that some day soon people residing in the barrios of Chiquilistagua will all have fitting dwellings to call home.