On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico with wind speeds over 150 mph. The storm ripped metal roofs from homes, snapped telephone poles, scattered electrical wires, and propelled heavy debris through doors and windows. It left most of the island in darkness for months and many families suffered severe damage to their homes.
On July 22, a St Francis Builds a team of 18 volunteers from St. Anthony’s Shrine in Boston and our Franciscan Parish in Silver Spring St Camillus traveled to Maunabo, close to where Hurricane Maria first made landfall to help the local community rebuild.
Municipal authorities estimate 90 percent of Maunabo’s wooden structures were damaged, many of them destroyed, in this mostly rural town of just over 11,000 residents.
For a week the volunteers joined community leaders working to repair seven homes scraping, patching, priming and painting walls, repairing and sealing roofs, installing doors, windows, and plumbing.
St Francis Build is a Franciscan Mission program melds the richness of a Franciscan retreat with the construction of homes, schools, and libraries. While new to St Anthony’s, since its founding in 2006, hundreds of people have experienced this program of “Franciscanism in Action” which blends Solidarity with the Poor, Cross-Cultural Bridge-Building, Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, Simplicity of Lifestyle, Community, Humility, Mission, Ecumenism, and Contemplation with a lot of joy. On over thirty-five mission trips St. Francis Builds has taken volunteers to serve in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru, Trinidad, Dominican Republic, Jordan, and Mexico.
In the U.S., its missions have included projects in Houston, New Orleans, West Virginia and the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. For this mission to Maunabo, St. Francis Builds partnered with the Fuller Center for Housing, based in Americus, Georgia.
The next St. Francis Builds mission is scheduled for Feb. 17-24. If interested please contact Fr Mike Johnson at [email protected]