Over the past four decades, nearly 20 priests from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and countless mission groups have ministered in La Sagrada Familia, the archdiocese’s sister parish in the Dominican Republic.
Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki and Bishop Tomás Alejo Concepción, Bishop of the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana, will celebrate a Mass commemorating the 40th anniversary of the partnership at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5, followed by a reception at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
In 1981, then-Archbishop Rembert Weakland reached out to Ronald Conners, from the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana in the Dominican Republic, volunteering two priests to minister to the impoverished community. Forty years later, the communities share faith, friendship, solidarity and an ongoing ministry.
Priests who have served the parish include Fathers Richard Broach, Thomas Demse, Robert Stiefvater, Ronald Gramza, Vincent Kobida, Dennis Dirkx, James Schuerman, Kevin Murphy, Donald Hying, Kenneth Clapp, Robert Wells, Jerome Thompson, Marti Colom, Oriol Regales, Juan Manuel Camacho and Esteban Redolad. In addition, several archdiocesan parishes have developed an ongoing La Sagrada Familia ministry.
Located in the province of Azua, in the southwest region of the Dominican Republic, the parish serves 30,000 individuals living in 22 towns and villages. La Sagrada Familia is located in Sabana Yegua, the largest town, consisting of approximately 10,000 residents.
Some accomplishments of the collaboration include nurturing the spiritual needs of the parish through evangelization and catechesis, celebrating the sacraments in each village, forming prayer groups, adult and youth formation, and leadership training.
Through the assistance of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, three nutrition centers are available, as well as preschool education for children ages 1-6. A health program, which includes a main clinic in Sabana Yegu and a network of pharmacies, helps meet the needs of the community.
Latrines, a sewing center, parish bakery and literacy program are also available to the community. Most communities have a chapel to pray and celebrate their faith, and several small churches were also built.
The community continues to struggle with poverty, lack of enough health care, insufficient educational opportunities and inadequate housing, but it has made great progress thanks to help from the Milwaukee Archdiocese. The celebratory Mass will kick off the 40-year anniversary.
Tuesday, Oct. 5, 5:30 p.m.
(Mass with reception to follow)
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
812 N. Jackson St., Milwaukee
The event is free and open to the public, but all are asked to register
To register, visit:
For event updates and information on other celebrations planned for the anniversary year, watch the page or visit: www.archmil.org/LSF-40-Years