Honduras: Meet María Ana

Lent is a 40-day journey of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. This Lenten season, Catholic Relief Services asks Catholics to remember the Gospel story of the feeding of the 5,000. “Just as the modest amount of five loaves and two fish was multiplied to be shared by thousands, small sacrifices add up to make a big difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters around the world,” CRS said.



CRS Rice Bowl invites you to get to know three girls from Honduras, Vietnam and Kenya, reflect on their stories of hope, share a meatless meal with your family, and donate the money you save as well as other funds to the Rice Bowl program. Funds support CRS programs around the world. Twenty-five percent of the total alms collected in our diocese remain here to support hunger alleviation efforts.



Rice Bowl resources are offered in both English and Spanish and are available in print and on the web. Find them at: www.crsricebowl.org or www.crsplatodearroz.org. You can also join the CRS Rice Bowl Facebook group. Organizations interested in applying for a Local Rice Bowl Grant can obtain the grant guidelines and application form by contacting the St. Cloud Mission Office at 320-251-1100 or visiting www.stcdio.org/mission.



(Image from CRS Ricebowl)

Meet our global family

Now it’s time to meet a girl from Honduras. As you read about Maríe Ana and her family, think about what you might have in common with them.



Portraits of María Ana Gómez Perez, 16, seen at her family bean parcel. (Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for Catholic Relief Services)

María Ana is 16 years old. Serious and kind, she lives with her parents, four brothers and one sister in Honduras, a country in Central America. Her village, El Pinal, is surrounded by hills. Maria Ana speaks Spanish.

María dreams to become a nurse and help her family get out of poverty, She is one of the best in her class and is willing even to work nearby city La Esperanza to full fill her dream. Her parents Cristobal and María Demetria don’t know if they are going to have the money to keep her at high school when she finishes her 9th grade. She lives in poverty stricken El Pinal village in San Francisco de Opalaca, Intibucá Honduras. She is a beneficiary of the CRS Food for Education program that gives her and her two brothers Denis and Marcos a meal every school day. This meal makes a huge difference in her family that eat usually one time a day. The family of seven depends only on the work of 50 year old Cristobal Gómez, her father.




Home and Family

María Ana’s  family home was destroyed in a recent accident, and her family is living in a temporary space—a small wooden hut—until they can get it fixed. It’s been hard living without a permanent place to call home. Everyone sleeps on the floor, and during the rainy season the roof often leaks. María Ana is hopeful her family will have a new house soon.

“I want to keep studying so I can help my family succeed,” she says.

To help make the dream a reality, María Ana works hard in school—and CRS provides school lunches to ensure she can focus on her studies and not on her hunger. María Ana also works in her community to earn money to support her family. At home, she helps with chores, like washing the school uniforms, helping to prepare the family meal, and fetching and boiling water to make it drinkable.

In the Gospel story of the loaves and the fishes, Jesus fed the crowd because they were far from home, hungry and without food. Have you ever been far from home and hungry? How can you help feed people whose homes may be far from yours?





Portrait of María Ana Gómez Pérez, 16, a student from José Suazo Córdova School in San Francisco de Opalaca municipality, Intibucá Honduras. (Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for Catholic Relief Services)


The Joy of Learning

María Ana begins each morning by thanking God for a new day. After saying her prayers and taking a bath, she helps her mother make tortillas before she puts on her uniform and walks to school with her two younger brothers.

“I feel happy when I’m studying,” says María Ana, whose favorite subjects are math, science and physical education. In school, María Ana also learns about ways she and her family can stay healthy, including washing fruits and vegetables before eating them. And, María Ana is able to bring some of that nutritious food home with her, thanks to the CRS school lunch program.

María Ana is especially grateful to her father, Don Cristobal, for working hard to send her to school. “My father works every day to support us, to provide the food that we need and to earn money to pay for school.”

People followed Jesus because they wanted to learn from him. His own disciples called him “teacher.” What did you learn from Jesus in the Gospel story of the loaves and the fishes?




Portrait of Denis Nahum Gómez Pérez, 6, is a 2nd grade, María Ana Gómez Perez, 16, 9th grade and Marcos Daniel Gómez Pérez, 9, 4th grade, sibling students from José Suazo Córdova School in San Francisco de Opalaca municipality, Intibucá Honduras. (Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for Catholic Relief Services)

Dreams for the Future

María Ana also wants to help people; she wants to be a nurse. To do this, she will need more education and training beyond the opportunities available in her community.

She’s already preparing. Several times a week, she travels two hours to the nearest city where she earns money cleaning homes. She is also very careful to save money and spend it only on what’s necessary.

María Ana feels called to help people be healthy, especially the children she sees in her community who suffer from malnutrition and lack of proper hygiene.

“I want to make my family proud,” she says. “And I want to help my family move forward.”

Jesus calls each of us to use our gifts and talents in the service of others. What gifts and talents have you been blessed with? How might you use your gifts to help other people?

Baleadas-Honduras Recipe

(Photo by Lauren Carroll/Catholic Relief Services)

Makes 4 servings

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 32oz. can (or 2 16oz. cans) red kidney beans
  • 8oz. sour cream
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ tsp. salt and more to taste
  • 8 small flour tortillas, warmed
  • 2 cups crumbled white cheese (queso duro, cotija or feta)

Rinse the kidney beans and then blend them with a bit of water until creamy. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, flipping occasionally, until onion is lightly browned, and oil absorbs flavor from onion, about 5-7 minutes; discard onion, retaining oil in pan. Add beans to skillet with oil. Cook, stirring often, until oil is absorbed, and beans are heated through, about 3 minutes; season with salt to taste. Remove beans from heat and keep warm. In medium bowl, stir together sour cream, heavy cream and ¼ tsp. salt; set aside. To assemble, spread a thin layer of refried beans onto warm tortillas; drizzle with sour cream mixture, sprinkle with cheese and top with desired garnishes and then fold in half. Serve immediately.

Materials are gathered from Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl: https://www.crsricebowl.org

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

Leave a Reply