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When the Franciscan vow of obedience sent me to work in Olancho, I was assigned to the Cathedral parish of Juticalpa as Pastor. We used to have a parish council meeting every three months. In most of those early meetings I oftern used to hear the same complaint, "Padrecito, tenemos que hacer algo para los ancianos" (Father, we have to do something for the elderly of the diocese). I soon came to understand that in all of the state of Olancho, with a population of more than half a million people, there was not a single home for the elderly. It took many years of hard thinking, reflection and prayer to really do something about this urgent problem.


The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, was when we actually found an eighty year old man dead, wrapped in old rags, plastic and cardboard in a doorway in Juticalpa. He had no family. We buried the old timer. Then and there, we decided that as a Church, we had to urgently address this problem.Back in those days when I was a Pastor at Santa Gertrudis in the same town of Juticalpa, the Bishop have us a piece of land. An architect from the parish generously drew up the plans. The entire parish began to organize activities to raise funds. On my end, I began to write letters to all my friends, contacts, brothers and sisters asking for help.


To complete this project, it took us fourteen months of hard work. A major delay came when Honduras was hit by Hurrican Mitch. The hurricane destroyed half of Honduras and left sixteen thousand dead and a lot of misery. We battled the hurricane as best we could and moved forward, and continued with our work. The walls were completed but we ran out of money, that was it, "nada," we did not have anything.


Saint Francis entered the scene through a very mysterious way. I once knew this girl, name Marina, who in her early adult life ended up marrying a Canadian. One day, Marina turns up telling me that her husband, Frank Schneider, works in the Canadian embassy in the captical city of Tegucicalpa. Marina offered to bring him over to see if he could help. A couple days later, Frank an important Canadian official from Ottawa, visits us for a first hand look at the situation. Upon viewing what had been accomplished up until that time, he promised to help us complete the project. Ten days later, we were presented with a 300,000 Lempira cheque to construct a roof, courtesy of the Canadian embassy in Honduras. Yes, St. Francis sure works in mysterious ways. On Sunday, January 10, 2000 Bishop Mauro Muldoon, ofm blessed the Hogar de Ancianos "Paz y Bien." On the very same day of its opening, the old age home received the first five "ancianos" (seniors) who used to, literally, eat and sleep on the streets of Juticalpa.


Today, our home for the elderly is known all over the country. In fact it's even well known by the same president of Honduras who, once in a while, without any notice, showed up to chat with the seniors at the residence. Benefactors from Toronto, USA and Europe help us maintain the place with their constant donations and people from all over Olancho chip in with donations of corn, beans and rice. We are very happy to be able to help our older brothers and sisters. One day, we too will be old and who knows, maybe some of us will be looking for a bed at the hogar (home)!!! For now, the elderly of Olancho do not have to live and die on the streets anymore. The doors of our home are always open for them!