Sister Parishes Greet Bishop of Jalapa, Strengthen Relationships

Was it a reunion, an update, a grateful farewell tour? How about all of the above. Bishop Julio Cabrera Ovalle visited the Diocese of Belleville Aug. 8-10 and spoke Aug. 9 at a conference to strengthen relationships with sister parishes.

Representatives of sister parishes from this diocese and the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., met with Bishop Cabrera and Shelly Sands, president of Missions International, which oversees the relationships between the countries and dioceses where people meet one another on their journeys of life and faith.

More than 150 people greeted Bishop Cabrera at St. Mary Parish in Trenton to hear about the parishes in Guatemala from a number of dioceses, including the new Diocese of Jutiapa, just erected in April 2016. He also brought greetings from the Izabal and Peten dioceses.
Bishop Cabrera traced the journey of Missions International from the Second Vatican Council when Bishop Albert R. Zuroweste met Bishop Angel Garcia of Jalapa in the halls outside of the Council chambers.

Their friendship eventually led to missionary experiences of some priests from the Belleville diocese to the Diocese of Jalapa, including Msgr. Vincent Haselhorst who spent time as a parish priest in the Jalapa diocese.

Even after returning home, the priests maintained their friendships with the people of Guatemala helping economically in Guastatoya and El Rancho.

After a devastating 1976 earthquake, priests and people brought aid to the Diocese of Jalapa, most notably building a new neighborhood called Ascencion in Guastatoya for those whose homes had been destroyed, and it still exists today.

Leonard and Alice Daiber and Harry Hosey from Nashville, Tenn., created Missions International in 1987 to establish solidarity with those in developing nations, notably Haiti and Guatemala.

Bishop Cabrera became Jalapa’s bishop in 2002, and learned about Missions International and the organization’s work in the diocese.

Because he expects to retire sometime in 2017, the bishop wanted to update people on how the economic support is handled and what changes have been, and are still being made.

This relationship continues, the bishop said, “as a mutual sharing of our distinct riches and gifts. You all from the Diocese of Belleville offer with love, economic assistance for the pastoral work of the parishes of the Diocese of Jalapa” and the other dioceses in Guatemala, and “we share with the parishes of Belleville, the experiences and witness of an alive mission church, poor in economic resources but rich in experiences of faith and work with lay people alongside committed priests, all doing pastoral mission work.”

When the bishop spoke of the importance of Leonard Daiber’s work, he stood, out of respect, he said, for the late Mr. Daiber.

As he spoke, Shelly Sands, who became president before her father died in 2015, was moved by Bishop Cabrera’s praise for her father’s vision and foresight in partnering parishes and improve relationships among people of different nations and cultures.

At the end of the conference, the bishop said: “I want to say to the faithful of our sister parishes of Belleville and Springfield, Ill., to Bishop Edward Kenneth Braxton and to his priests, to Father Vincent, to Mrs. Shelly Sands, our deepest and most heartfelt gratitude for your fraternal solidarity with all of the parishes of the Diocese of Jalapa and now of Jutiapa, and our commitment to continue to use responsibly, to remain faithful to the spirit of the original plan of this project.”

For more information on the sister parish program, please go to