First Communion is a very important rite of passage in the Latin and South American countries. Amigos en Cristo strives to serve the needs of the whole person: mind, soul and spirit.
On Sunday, October 2, Khamila Pérez-Abrajim, joyfully celebrated her first communion through the ministry of Amigos en Cristo Lutheran Chruch, Bonita Springs.
Board Member Pat O’Donnell was featured in Lifestyle Magazine’s October 2011 issue’s article written by Laura Cummings.
Read excerpts below or read the full article here.
During the thirty-five years Al and Pat O’Donnell have lived in Estero, they have built an award-winning landscape firm as wellas a reputation for community service.
The Dubin Center is one of United Way’s seventy-two local partneragencies, as is The Amigos Center, for which Pat serves on the board.The Amigos Center helps immigrants in Lee and Collier counties filepaperwork to obtain, retain or recover their legal status. “They do alot of humanitarian work,” Pat explained. The agency helps immigrantsfrom ninety countries navigate through the complex Immigration andNaturalization Service (INS) system. “It’s a proud moment when theyfinally get through everything and get their citizenship.”Pat discovered The Amigos Center as a volunteer on the United Way’sAllocations Committee, which evaluates partner agencies and reviewsannual requests for grants. “It is an eye-opening opportunity to see whatthe needs are in Lee County,” Pat said.
While the O’Donnells keep a tightly packed schedule, they wouldn’thave it any other way.“You make time for the things you really want to do,” Pat said. “Youorganize everything else around it.”
Every year the Amigos Center helps hundreds of families reunite and stay united through the low-cost, legal immigration services provided. Pictured here is Gaspar Mejia. Through the help of the Amigos Center he was able to bring his wife and four children here to the United States. Out of gratitude for the work of Lala through the Amigos Center, they came and brought her a very elaborate handmade blouse from their native Huehuetenango, Guatemala. It is a typical indigenous outfit only from that region. Many families do not have the money to pay for expensive immigration services yet they are very grateful for the services the Amigos Center provides. This was their heartfelt way to show their appreciation for Lala and the Amigos Center Immigration ministry.
Pictured here is: Luis Fernando (eldest son), Juana, Lala (Immigration Specialist) & Gaspar Mejia.
Also in the past month, Amigos Center partnered with the Mexican Consulate to help people with Passports and educating them on their rights and the services the consulate provides. The Amigos Center also partnered with The Health Department of Collier to do a Health Education class.
Amigos Center in Immokalee is proudly serving over 25 students in our Literacy Program on Monday. Students are arriving early and staying after class to study and practice what they learned so they can move to our Rosetta Stone program. Director of Development, Leah McCann led one of the classes today and had the students singing the months of the year. “It was moving to hear the group sing and really staying focused to remember the months. It was even more moving to see them helping one another and encouraging one another to participate.” As the need continues to grow, we work diligently to accommodate everyone at their current level. We continue to pray for a Haitian Creole volunteer to assist us in our Literacy Program. If you are interested in volunteering in Immokalee, please contact Karl Glander at: (239) 657-3822.
Two new pastors are on the way. The last week of August Pastor Selle traveled to Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO to participate in the orientation of two new students who are beginning their formal theological studies leading to ordination into the pastoral office of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Herminio Pagan, Messiah Lutheran Church, Naples, and Saint Luc Charelus, Haitian Immokalee Lutheran Church both made their first visit to the seminary campus. They joined dozens of other first year students from all across the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Pakistan, Laos, Sudan and even Mongolia. This is a four year program of study. What an inspirational thing to see people from across the globe with such joy and dedication to our Lord Jesus Christ. Our circuit now has three students studying for the pastoral office at Concordia Seminary. Andre Mezilus is now a vicar and is in his third year of studying in the Ethnic Immmigrant Institute of Theology at Concordia Seminary.
Quinceañera, Desiree Martinez, beams next to her father, Enrique, during her coming out party in North Fort Myers. Latin American girls often celebrate their fifteenth birthday (16th in Puerto Rico) with family and friends with an elaborate party. Traditionally, the Quinceañera marks a turning point in a young woman’s life when she is allowed to date boys, go on outings with friends, be allowed a degree of greater independence, etc. Since Pastor Selle baptized Desiree when she was seven years old, he was invited to consecrate the event with both Word and prayer. A common theological theme at such an event is that the young woman is now at an age when she is to live out her baptismal covenant with God as an adult woman, no longer as a child under the tutelage of her parents.
On August 7th, Amigos en Cristo Lutheran Church in Bonita Springs held a Family Festival after worship services. It was a special occasion to invite friends and family to church. The festival featured live music, children’s water park activities, food, dancing, and games. Families could also enroll in our Marriage Enrichment Program, first communion classes and baptism instruction for children.
In order to maintain high standards of financial integrity, our Amigos ministry maintains a standing Financial Review Committee. The committee:
- establishes and periodically reviews our financial investment policy;
- assumes responsibility for oversight of the annual audit, review, or compilation of our financial statements;
- is responsible for the selection of an independent accountant; and
- investigates any reported violation of our employee policies.
Members of the committee are (pictured left to right) Pat O’Donnell, (owner of O’Donnell Landscapes, board member of Amigos en Cristo and former chairperson of the United Way of Lee County Campaign Drive); Tom Cioper (Former president of Zion Lutheran Church, Fort Myers and retired Major Account Manager of Motorola Semiconductors); and Denny Brown (retired CFO/CEO of Owens Illinois Latin American Division, former volunteer Financial Consultant for Amigos Center and long time community volunteer).