“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.”
Bishop Julio Cabrera Ovalle received greetings from the Apostolic Nuncio to Guatemala, Archbishop Nicolas Thevenin on Jan. 25 announcing the erection of the Diocese of Jutiapa from territory within the Diocese of Jalapa in Guatemala.
Bishop Cabrera and the people of the Jalapa diocese have been waiting for many years for this news.
A translation of Archbishop Thevenin’s letter read, in part: “Our Holy Father Francisco has erected the new Diocese of St. Francis of Assisi of Jutiapa, separating it from the Diocese of Jalapa and giving it suffrage rights within the Archdiocese of Santiago of Guatemala. The Holy Father has named Rev. Father Felix Eduardo Antonio Calderon Cruz as first bishop of Jutiapa, who was parish priest of La Blanca in the Diocese of San Marcos.
“The new Diocese of Jutiapa corresponds to the Jutiapa department and consists of 17 municipalities: Jutiapa, El Progreso, Santa Catarina Mita, Agua Blanca, Asunción, Mita, Yupiltepeque, Atescatempa, Jerez, El Adelanto, Zapotitlan, Comapa, Jalpatagua, Conguaco, Moyuta, Pasaco, San José Acatempa, Quesada. The Cathedral will be the past church of San Cristóbal.”
Bishop Cabrera wanted the people of the Diocese of Belleville, especially those people in sister parish relationships with parishes in the Diocese of Jalapa to know that the people here had a hand in making the new diocese in Jutiapa a possibility.
He wrote a letter to Shelly Sands, head of Missions International and asked that it be distributed to sister parishes.
Bishop Cabrera said: “I ask you to share in the joy of this town and its thanksgiving to God and Pope Francis for this decision, which is so important for the life and the growth of this department.
“From us, I send you my deepest appreciation for your most generous help in building the house for the bishop and remodeling his diocese’s curia.
“We ask for your understanding in that, since this news was anxiously awaited for nine years, it may have given the impression that we had lost interest in the matter.
“Please know the people were waiting in prayer and hope. Today we can tell you it is a reality.”
No firm date has been announced when the ordination of the new bishop will take place or the official erection of the diocese will take place.
Msgr. Vincent Haselhorst, a member of the board of directors of Missions International said it was his understanding that the diocese would become a reality sometime this spring.
Because some of the parishes in the Belleville diocese will become sister parishes in the new diocese, they are being mentioned here.
Sands sent the list so that people would know if they are going to be in the new diocese.
Becoming sisters to parishes in the soon to be erected Diocese of Jutiapa are: Blessed Sacrament in Belleville — Nuestra Senora de Lourdes, El Progreso; Holy Childhood of Jesus, Mascoutah — Hermano Pedro de San Jose Betancur, Atescatempa; Holy Trinity in Fairview Heights — San Jose, El Adelanto; St. Cecilia in Bartelso — Santa Catarina Martir, Quesada y San Jose Acatempa; St. Clement in McLeansboro — Parroquia Nuestra Señora de la Piedad; St. Dominic in Breese —
Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Rosario — Jutiapa; St. John the Baptist in Piopolis — Parroquia Nuestra Señora de la Piedad; St. John the Baptist in Red Bud — San Francisco de Asis, Pasaco; St. Mary in Mt. Vernon — Santa Cruz; St. Mary in Carlyle — Santa Catarina Martir, Santa Catarina Mita; St. Patrick in Ruma — Santo Tomas Apostol, Jalpatagua/ Mission de Azulco; and St. Teresa of the Child Jesus in Belleville — San Cristobal, Jutiapa soo to become the Cathedral of St. Francis.
The priests of the Diocese of Jalapa expressed their joy at the impending erection of the new diocese.
“The presbyters of the deanery of Jalapa and El Progreso express our feelings of joy and gratitude to God for the news of the creation of the new Diocese of St. Francis of Assisi, Jutiapa,” they said in a letter.
The priests described some of the background of the new diocese.
“The creation of the new Diocese arises from the pastoral need identified by Msgr. Jorge Mario Ávila del Águila, during his ministry among us, and shared with Msgr. Julio Cabrera Ovalle when he arrived to this diocese.
“This need was confirmed by Msgr. Julio as he began to learn about the diocese and especially the territory of Jutiapa. The territorial extension, the large population of the department, and the growth of parishes and Christian communities are more than sufficient reasons for the creation of this new particular church.
“We express our congratulations to our presbyter brothers for what is to be the Diocese of Jutiapa. We are grateful for the path we have forged together and encourage them to continue to build God’s Kingdom in that territory, with the same spirit of communion and ecclesiastical responsibility. We extend our congratulations to the residents of the department of Jutiapa, especially the pastoral agents, religious, and the entire community of God, who receive the news with such joy.”
The letter was written by Pbro. Mynor Estuardo Morataya Franco, chancellor of Diocese of Jalapa.
When more information is available about the new diocese, it will be shared.