‘Bold hopes’ for the new year - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Nohemi and Peg picking organic corn.

I hope you and yours have enjoyed the Christmas season and moved into 2021 with optimism. Pope Francis, in his most recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, repeated some of his message to youth in Cuba in 2015, saying, “Hope speaks to us of a thirst, an aspiration, a longing for a life of fulfillment, a desire to achieve great things, things that fill our heart and lift our spirit to lofty realities like truth, goodness and beauty, justice and love… Hope is bold; it can look beyond personal convenience, the petty securities and compensations which limit our horizon, and it can open us up to grand ideals that make life more beautiful and worthwhile”.

As part of a Maryknoll Lay Missioners Advent Celebration of Hope, I asked some of the people with whom I work here in El Salvador what they hope for. I’d like to share their thoughts with you, as they tell the story of this past year pretty well. Most are from our parish’s agricultural ministry group; one is from the environmental group. I’ve translated and slightly edited the remarks from recordings made in November.


Francisca V. (left), Nohemí, Omar and Nicolás sort and divide up southern peas in their organic field on Dec 23.

Francisca V

Hopefully one day we can come out of this pandemic that has hurt so many families who have lost loved ones. I hope that one day they will find a vaccine that will be able to cure, hopefully the whole world. …To be able to go out without this mask, and to go around without worrying about catching the virus or spreading it to others. That’s the hope I have, that one day we will move beyond this. I tell my family, “Better days will come!” and that’s what I hope.

I’m also hopeful knowing that my children are studying and preparing themselves to become better persons. This year has been very worrisome; we’ve been thinking about what could have happened. As a mother, I was very concerned at the beginning, worrying about what if one of my children gets sick or worse, to lose a child, how difficult! I was afraid at the beginning, but thanks to God, we have been able to get through it, at least the fear, because the pandemic, of course still continues.

But as long as I’m alive I will continue to strive and work. At the start, I was worried whether we’d even be able to plant our seeds and harvest our crops but we were able to do so, and we are about to gather in the harvest, God willing, and therefore have our food for the year.


Margarita and Hernán look over forage plants for a poultry project.


Hope is putting ourselves in God’s hands so the whole world can be cured, and my biggest hope is that our daughters can complete their studies and do well this year. For me hope in this time is first, that God will grant us good health to be able to continue working, including in this field, producing [organically] so we can eat healthy foods, and to be able to support our families and all those who need help.



My hopes, first, are that we come out of this pandemic, that we get a vaccine so there aren’t more deaths, and then that we can develop this agricultural ministry and that our families will be able to have enough food to survive.

In addition, I hope that our children can grow and develop normally, as right now they are doing all their studies online, so I hope they can go back to in-person classes and succeed. Our crops and what we are doing now [in this agricultural ministry] give me hope. We know that God does not abandon us in spite of all the disasters that we as humanity have experienced. And the Spirit always keeps me ready to move forward and do things better.


Francisca M., Peg and Reina with organic peanuts and sesame

Francisca M

My hope for the coming year is that this [pandemic] ends! That someday there’ll be a vaccine that the whole world needs and God willing, it will all pass. I have hope in our family where we all help and support each other with any obstacles, and I wish the best for our family.

In spite of this coronavirus we have had many blessings in our lives from other people who have helped us. Even though we haven’t always been able to work, we haven’t suffered from a lack of food. There have been good-hearted people who have helped us and have given us the motivation to move ahead in our lives. And to be involved in a church ministry gives us the hope necessary to move forward, to continue living and to have many plans for the coming year.



What gives me hope in all that we have lived through is that we have reconciled as a family and we are now more united, and despite this pandemic we have the motivation to see our needy brothers and sisters and to be able to help them. My hope is that Jesus will be born in my heart and in my family, and that we’ll be able to start the coming year with a different outlook, a good one for us and our family, to see my children achieve and help all of society.


Luís and Nohemí with sesame plants; set up to dry


I hope to continue producing organically so I can grow [crops] and take care of my family. What gives me hope day in and day out is the love God has for us, the love and care of my family and my children, and to know that we are together in spite of this pandemic that has come upon us.



My hopes are that this idea of conserving our natural resources resonates within the whole population, that we can transform our environment so it is more livable, and that future generations can enjoy what we have been able to enjoy.


And since I also had to take a turn, here’s what I shared with them.


Peg with neighbor Daniel holding harvested beans


My hope comes from all the people here in El Salvador with whom I have the privilege and the pleasure of working. In spite of so many difficulties, they strive every day, trying to produce and provide the best for their children and for their future. Their generosity toward others with less and their unfailing concern for those beyond their own families, communities and country never cease to amaze me.

All of those in these agricultural and environmental ministry groups are convinced of the need to preserve, protect and care for our Common Home, which gives me great hope to continue every day in our efforts. And the children — like my neighbor, Daniel, who likes to learn about nature and growing his own food — are a great sign of hope!

Here’s wishing that hope abounds in your life and that together we can all make our dreams for a better world come true in 2021.

Blessings of peace, joy and good health to you!


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Peg Vámosy
Peg Vámosy works in parish programs promoting sustainable agriculture and greater environmental awareness through the social justice committee of Monte San Juan Parish near Cojutepeque, El Salvador.