Pupils from Saint Paul’s Catholic High School in Wythenshawe were delighted to welcome Fr Ignacio Nacho, a Spanish Jesuit working in Guatemala, to the school.
The visit was organized by CAFOD in the Shrewsbury Diocese. Fr Ignacio Nacho is an enigmatic but extremely modest Jesuit from Valencia, Spain lives with and serves the people of the parish of Santa Maria Chiquimula in western
Guatemala. The parish has a significant number of indigenous Mayan people living in its boundaries.
The day began prayer then Fr Ignacio addressed the students and an opportunity to attend interactive workshops. The workshops included a creative art session, an IT themed session to create a poster and a Justice and Peace workshop. Pupils from other schools also visited the school to take part in these workshops.
Father Ignacio's Parish of Santa Maria Chiquimula, one of CAFOD's partners, has been working on environmental projects to fight deforestation and to encourage young people to understand the importance of their land. They have also helped to promote healthy food campaigns, mobile clinics for mothers and babies as well as food gardens for families to grow nutritious vegetables to eat.
Father Ignacio's work with the Parish of Santa Maria Chiquimula has had a profound effect on the future of some of the poorest and most marginalised people in Guatemala, the indigenous Mayan communities. Leading his colleagues, the parish has helped to improve the health of children in the area dramatically and has saved many lives.
Mrs Lisa Baillie, Head of RE at Saint Paul’s, commented: “It was an extremely inspiring day, our special guest, Fr Ignacio Nacho, was full of energy and enthusiasm as he explained how his parish community is dealing with the challenges of malnutrition and climate change. Father Ignacio is firmly immersed in Mayan culture and sees part of our spirituality as rethinking our relationship with the environment and the earth.
Year 10 pupil, Katie Golds, said: “I thought that Fr Nacho’s visit was inspiring; I never realised how much people are struggling in other countries.”
Year 8 pupil, Mason Crozier, said: “I enjoyed doing the workshop activity – we played a fairtrade chocolate game and prayed in different ways, thinking about how we need to care for the world and the environment. I learnt that people in Guatemalaare very religious and believe in the same God as me.”
Year 10 pupil, Ellen Stevens, said: “I enjoyed the way Fr Nacho spoke about his work in different places in the world. I learnt to value all the good things in my life.”
“It was a real privilege for the pupils to have an opportunity to hear firsthand about the work of CAFOD in Guatemala,” explained Emma Nolan, Chaplain. “Fr Ignacio (Nacho – he told the pupils he had invented them!) spoke about his own experiences of flooding and mud slides – consequences of climate change – and the help that CAFOD has given them in the Primary and Secondary schools that are run in the parish. The pupils enjoyed the workshop activities, especially the creativelino printing run by a CAFOD volunteer. We hope collaboration with CAFOD is the first of many.