RENEW International has had long-standing presence and outreach to the people of Latin America, beginning in Belize and continuing in El Salvador and Honduras. This year, we have expanded our mission to Ponce, Puerto Rico and look forward to bringing RENEW to other areas of Latin America in the future.
In 1987, Dr. Irma Chávezopened the National Office of RENEW in El Salvador. There, she brought the RENEW process to five dioceses, organizing hundreds of thousands into small Christian communities.
In a region ravaged by civil war and social disorder, where half the population are minors and most are poor, our work in building small Christian communities has done much to foster community, build faith, and improve social conditions for the present and future leaders of El Salvador.
Irma’s tenacious efforts have been focused on youth who have been ravaged by gangs. In partnership with international and local institutions as well as bishops and clergy, RENEW provided leadership training and spiritual instruction to help young people involved in gangs and youth at risk. Irma has produced faith-sharing materials, organized leadership and skills training programs, and directed the evangelization efforts for these young people.
Many of the teens with whom Irma works are motivated to possess job skills and are anxious to put them to good use. In special job training programs, they are encouraged to develop craftsmanship, which will help them secure a means to support themselves and will also serve as an affirmation of their self-worth.
In 1992, RENEW began its ministry in Honduras in a most unique way. When Father Delio Diaz, OFM Conv, was assigned to pastor the parish of St. Maximilian Kolbe in Tegucigalpa, he was faced with a unique problem. St. Maximilian Kolbe has 220,000 parishioners and Father Delio realized the enormous task that he, with three priests to assist him, would have in ministering to a congregation of this size.
Having heard about RENEW’s work in neighboring El Salvador, he appealed to RENEW to help him meet the needs of this spiritually hungry parish. In true RENEW fashion, Irma flew to Honduras the next day and immediately made a commitment to help him establish small Christian communities among his parishioners. RENEW Honduras came into being and has since become an integral part of the spiritual life of the people of Honduras.
RENEW International has positively touched the lives of Latin Americans by creating an atmosphere where people can encounter God, openly share faith, support one another in community, share their fears and hopes for the future, and encourage one another to live their faith in a lively way. In doing so, they are renewed and bear witness to Christ in their midst.
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