A Time of Transition and Hope
As a sign of our vitality and excitment for our future, the Board of Directors elected Ed Hardiman '1992-93, alumna and Headmaster at St. John's Prep (Danvers, MA), to succeed Father Ronan as our next Chair of the Board.
"It has always been a dream of mine that Rostro de Cristo would be taken over by former volunteers." Father Jim Ronan and Ed Hardiman reflect on their time with Rostro de Cristo in this time of transition.
A Life of Service
"Now it is time for another transition.I will step aside and one of the first volunteers, Dr. Ed Hardiman, will take over leadership of the Board of Directors."
Click below to read Father Ronan's reflection.
A Journey of Faith
"I stood on the roof top patio of the rectory and shared with my good friend that I would be back. That promise came true as a participant in Rostro de Cristo in June 1990 and the promise has been repeated multiple times since night on the patio of the rectory"
Click below to read Ed Hardiman's reflection.
Volunteers and Fellows Returning to Ecuador in 2022!
As we return to our “home” in Ecuador we know that much has changed in the world, including in the lives and social realities of our neighbors and ministry partners... This moment invites us to live our mission of “being with”, to embrace authentic relationships, like never before. We are excited to journey with alumni Fellows and new volunteers as they return to Guayaquil to serve, to encounter new realities, to embody what it means to be a loving and merciful neighbor in our world today.
A LIFE OF SERVICE
Growing up in a faith-filled family where my dad was a very busy and involved medical doctor, set the stage for me to think about a life of service. After completing formal education, I worked with university students both in the classroom and in administration. For a young man not yet 30, this was a fulfilling and challenging career.
Nonetheless, there came a time in that journey when I realized many young adults were searching for purpose and identity at a much deeper level than found in classic higher education. Gradually, I came to realize that very truth applied to me as well as others!
After a time of discernment, I resigned my position at the university and began studies for the priesthood. I came to believe I was called to parish ministry and the diverse realities found in every community. After ordination, for six years I enjoyed this life and the range of human encounters was breathless! Yet, once again, God’s loving Spirit nudged me to look more deeply. More searching led me to the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle.
Latin America amazed, thrilled, and overwhelmed me, and the theatre of my life as a priest was now global. The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the Good News – is unchanging. However, it is received in the moment of people’s lives. For those living at the margins of the world the Gospel yields a power that often transforms individuals and communities. Moreover, it transforms the messenger –the priest – proclaiming that Good News.
I never would have guessed that my earlier career in higher education and my life as a missionary would conveniently come together to begin a remarkable initiative – Rostro de Cristo (RdC). For more than 30 years this program has hosted year-long volunteers and short-term retreats for students from high schools and colleges throughout the US.
I have been privileged to found and lead RdC throughout these years, often through turbulent times. Yet, our mission is clear, and we have been blessed. Now it is time for another transition. I will step aside and one of the first volunteers, Dr. Ed Hardiman, will take over leadership of the Board of Directors. I will continue on the Board as vice-chair during this transition and serve on the advancement committee as well.
I am grateful beyond measure that RdC is continuing to move forward with such strength and commitment to our mission. For I believe this pandemic era has accelerated the reality of a divided, lonely, frightened, and searching world. The antidote, I am certain, is the mission of Rostro de Cristo and empowering a new generation of volunteers to be transformed and then, transform our times to an era of greater freedom, unity, and hope.
Fr. Jim Ronan
A JOURNEY OF FAITH
In February 1988 I first stepped off a plane into the hot and humid Ecuadorian night. I was with a group of 10 other high school students and our school chaplain, a former St. James Missionary. The experience was transformative and pre-Rostro. We lived in the rectory of La Parroquia Santa Marianita in Durán Centro. On the final night of our experience, I stood on the roof top patio of the rectory and shared with my good friend that I would be back. That promise came true as a participant in Rostro de Cristo in June 1990 and the promise has been repeated multiple times since night on the patio of the rectory.
I have been blessed to serve as one of the first-year long volunteers and an adult leader of retreat groups for high school and college students with Rostro Cristo multiple times over the last 30 years. Each experience is unique, and each experience is centered on a profound encounter with Christ amongst the people of Ecuador. As a volunteer I spent a good deal of time among the people of Cerro de las Cabras, “Goat Hill.” This settlement area was destitute and the first home to Rostro de Cristo. I have distinct memories of Lucho circling around me with boundless energy as I struggled to make the climb and the pride of Mario when he replaced his house built from sugar cane with a home built of cement blocks. I also reflect on the moments of heartache and grief - when Julia’s mother was hospitalized and when the community came together with Deacon Segundo to mourn the passing of a friend and neighbor.
During my second visit to Ecuador, I was also fortunate to encounter Fr. Jim Ronan, founder of Rostro de Cristo. His ministry and energy had a profound impact on me and prior to leaving we spoke about the possibility of returning to Duran for a longer period of time. During my year in Ecuador my relationship with Fr. Jim grew deeper. We lived a few steps from the rectory and our community of two volunteers had many contacts with the priests of the parish.
Today, I am 25+ years into a vocation of serving and leading in Catholic education. My experiences in Ecuador have continued to guide my work. A large tapestry of Mt. Chimborazo, purchased at the end of my year, has accompanied me in each position I have served in the world of Catholic education. Heeding the words of Pat McTeague, spoken when our group visited Nuevo Mundo in 1990 - I seek to ensure the decisions I make are building up our work and positively impacting the people of Ecuador who have powerfully formed and informed my faith journey.
Today as a husband and dad of four - one who has participated in Rostro - and the Head of a Catholic school the experience of Rostro is carried on. I am honored and humbled to follow Fr. Jim as the next Chair of the Rostro Board. In many ways this work continues to fulfill that initial promise made in February 1988 on the rectory patio. The mission and ministry of Rostro is integral to addressing the challenges and divisions faced by our world and our Church today. The young people of today and our world are in desperate need of Rostro. The powerful encounter that Rostro provides is transformative and deepens the capacity for empathy, compassion and a faith seeking justice.
As we continue our journey and carry on the vision of Fr. Jim, we are grateful for your support and look forward to working together to develop, enhance and strengthen Rostro in its mission to form faith based and culturally relevant change agents who work for equity and justice fueled by their encounter with the face of Christ amidst the people of Ecuador.
Ed Hardiman, PhD.
We are thrilled to announce that Rostro de Cristo is preparing to reestablish our ministry presence in Ecuador during the 2022 year! We have begun recruiting for the next new volunteer cohort 2022-2023 and are actively seeking young adults to apply to Rostro de Cristo’s volunteer program if they have a passion for intercultural service, for growing in their faith and commitment to social justice, and for living and learning in intentional community.
A centerpiece in our return is a new Rostro de Cristo Ecuador Fellowship Program for alumni volunteers. Fellows will be serving a vital role in helping to reestablish Rostro de Cristo’s presence in the community of Monte Sinai during the first half of 2022. As former volunteers they will bring not only their experience earned through their volunteer year, but also new knowledge learned through further study and professional experiences. The fellows will provide an assessment of the needs that will direct where and how we focus our efforts; help us identify new opportunities to live our mission that respond to a changed reality with a focus on practicing mutual solidarity and collaboration with our Ecuadorian neighbors and partners; and help us to discern new areas of growth and opportunities for a more sustainable future for Rostro de Cristo.
Looking back on the last two years we feel deep gratitude to have been sustained by the generous support of Rostro’s donors and alumni, along with the incredible efforts of the Rostro de Cristo Board of Directors, staff, and recent volunteers to keep the mission alive during the pandemic. Because of this support we have a strong and stable place from which to grow.
As we return to our “home” in Ecuador we know that much has changed in the world, including in the lives and social realities of our neighbors and ministry partners. This moment invites us to live our mission of “being with”, to embrace authentic relationships, like never before. We are excited to journey with alumni Fellows and new volunteers as they return to the margins of Guayaquil to serve, to encounter new realities, to discover the merciful and loving presence of Christ in our world today. Today, Rostro de Cristo provides a powerful opportunity during challenging times to develop a strong grounding in faith, a belief that each of us is called to serve the greater good, and to see, by living it, how we can make the world a better place.
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