Thursday, January 17

After a short breakfast we started the day by packing our entire group into a tiny van for an hour ride to the Basilica of Our Lady of Altagracia. The Basilica in Higuey is home to the image of Our Lady of Altagracia, the nation’s official protector. In addition to the towering arches that make up the interior and exterior of the Basilica, the most evident thing was the peoples’ intense devotion to our Blessed Mother. Although we only had a short time to visit the basilica and museum devoted to Our Lady of Altagracia, the genuine joy of the people and peace of the Blessed Mother remained with us for the rest of the day.

Basilica of Our Lady of Altagracia
The interior of the Basilica

The rest of the day was split up working in the garden, attending a beautiful mass at the cathedral, and having dinner at the Seminary in San Pedro. I am constantly reminded of beauty of the Mass through the people here in the Dominican. It is astounding to see their devotion and joy in every moment. After Mass, we climbed the bell tower in the cathedral before heading over to the Seminary for dinner. Although only a few of us were able to speak Spanish, it is amazing how God communicates through the language of joy and love. In just a short time we were having a wonderful time. As Fr. Becker said, this country is blessed to have many young and holy priests.

The more time I spend with the poor and orphans here at NPH, I am convinced that if one solely sees what someone lacks, they have not really seen the person for who they are. As children of God, we are far more then what we have materially, but who we are as His children. At first glance in a third world country, one can be tempted to solely focus on the poverty of the people. However, looking at the simple peace and joy of the children, one cannot help but to rejoice with them simply for being a precious child of God. Afterall, the purpose of spending time with the poor and entering into their lives is not to be with people who have nothing, but to be with those who have Christ.

-Andre Klaes