Our hats are off to Sister Marifé Hellman, who has served in Guatemala for 38 years. When Sister Rosie Goubeaux and I visited her, she quickly informed us that she was the first woman in Guatemala who taught theology in a seminary. That’s a great accomplishment!
Recognizing the importance of education, Marifé began a school for young Mayan girls because in the small villages in Guatemala, education for children goes up to grade six and further education is not available. Providing high school education in this hilly countryside of San Raymundo, with assistance from our Congregation, Marifé works with other people and now teaches in a third school building, which is named Holy Mary of the Most Precious Blood School (Escuela Santa Maria de la Preciosísima Sangre). The present building was newly built a few years ago and is a boarding school capable of housing 32 girls. It includes classrooms, study areas, kitchen, dining room, chapel, etc. Some girls and boys from the local neighborhood also attend classes but do not live there. Over the years, students who come from various areas and from different language groups have attended this school, get along so well, learn so much and are enriched with the spirit of the Precious Blood.
Presently a gentleman from the United States, with skills in marketing, is assisting Marifé by developing a fundraising campaign. He, his wife and their daughter, who is in college, were visiting while we were there. They were busy preparing promotional materials by taking many pictures, creating a video, interviewing people and gathering valuable information. The funds they plan to raise will be used to establish similar schools in other locations within Guatemala. They too see the importance of providing education for children from impoverished homes and are committed to assisting with this endeavor.
In addition to education, Sister Marifé also reaches out to many families in the neighborhood and local area, sharing love and kindness and assisting them in various ways. While we were there, a pickup truck drove onto the property. The bed of the truck was filled to capacity with a great variety of fresh fruits. Marifé quickly helped to distribute some of this delicious fruit to a number of families who live nearby.
What a thrill it was to walk the grounds of where she lives and ministers with others, praying and sharing faith, life, goodness and our Precious Blood Spirituality.
By Sister Martha Bertke
Assembly Directive: Stand with the marginalized, make a collective commitment to promote and witness nonviolence, and strive to effect reconciliation among God’s people; network with other individuals, agencies, and groups to be effective in our current reality.