For 30 years Rostro de Cristo has operated our program where we were founded in Duran & Guayaquil, Ecuador. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting need to temporarily halt our volunteer and retreat program in Ecuador has provided an opportunity to adapt and adjust. For Rostro de Cristo it is our commitment to serving others and being with those on the margins that gives our program its mission and purpose. And, today we recognize that the need has never been greater, not just in Ecuador but also here in the US.
At times we have considered different opportunities for living our mission in the US. But until now the right opportunity and moment never materialized. Today, we are excited to share with you that during the 2020-2021 Program Year we will pilot a volunteer community in partnership with the Romero Center in Camden, NJ.
Like Rostro de Cristo, the Romero Center program, inspired by the gospel witness of St. Oscar Romero, prioritizes a shared experience of faith, intercultural relationships, and a ministry of presence and solidarity within marginalized communities. The center is a ministry of St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral, and supports partnerships and service efforts in the greater Camden community. Ultimately, the Center’s goals, like ours, is to see the face of Christ in every person, and to participate “in bringing about a societal commitment to end poverty and discrimination in our world.”
Similar to the volunteer program in Ecuador, Rostro volunteers will live immersed in their neighborhood committed to our core values of faith, simplicity, community, hospitality and service.
This opportunity to establish a new volunteer community with the Romero Center, is a moment to stretch, grow and learn as we enter into new relationships of accompaniment that is fitting to the times we are living in. Our own national reality demands that we seek to more deeply identify and learn from communities that have experienced historical exclusion and marginalization as a reflection of our commitment to becoming a more just, equitable and inclusive organization.
We are eager to participate in this collaboration as a way to live out our mission in the United States and are extremely hopeful that it will be the first step toward a new path. We are also looking forward to returning to our neighbors in Ecuador as soon as the situation allows.
Please support this new opportunity and our volunteer community who will begin this new chapter in Rostro de Cristo’s life in early October through your thoughts and prayers, and financial support. Thank you!