"The Friends of San Lucas was created to carry on the legacy of Fr. Greg Schaffer, by listening, responding to and walking in solidarity with the people of San Lucas Tolimán in an effort to alleviate the suffering and dependency created by the ‘process of poverty’.”
We recognize that we are to be a bridge, to share with our brothers and sisters in the United States of America who have been associated with our mission, by offering hospitality, and by sharing the culture, struggles, hopes, and aspirations of the people of Guatemala and through this avenue of solidarity provide funding to keep the projects going.
As Jesus responded to people and their needs, we believe that it is or mission to respond to the expressed felt needs of the people of San Lucas Toliman and the surrounding area, that form the larger community. We will uphold the Christian Social Doctrine that Fr. Greg weaved through all his decisions and practices.
Arch Mrkvicka was named the Executive Director of Friends of San Lucas by Bishop Levoir, beginning January 2013. In January 2017, Arch retired and Bill Peterson was named Executive Director. Both Arch, who will continue to serve on the Board of Directors and Bill, are devoted to continuing the work of Fr. Greg, following his philosophy of integral human development and incorporating his pillars of Christian Social doctrine in all we do.
Bishop John LeVoir
Chancellor Eugene Lozinski
Vicar General Douglas Grams
Fr. Philip Schotzko
Brian Mathiowetz Arch Mrkvicka
Bill Peterson, Director - Minneapolis, MN Arch Mrkvicka – Owatonna, MN
Brian Mathiowetz – Sleepy Eye, MN
Chuck Spaeth – Sleepy Eye, MN
Terri Wong – Eagan, MN
Fr. Phil Schotzko – Springfield, MN
Dave Davis – Hewitt, MN
Byron Maldonado – Coral Gables, FL
Bridget Coughlan-Hermer – Madison Lake, MN
Rogers Strickland - Weston, MO Jereme Abshire - Sacramento, CA Paul Leighton - Apple Valley, MN Mike Greene - Minnetrista, MN Ana Ovalle - Mankato, MN Heather Statz - Baraboo, WI
As many of you know, we have undergone a transition in leadership in the Friends of San Lucas and I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself and talk a little about what the future holds for our work.
When Father Greg died in 2012 he had selected a group of people to carry his work and dreams for the people of San Lucas forward. The resulting transition, from 50 years of leadership centered in a single person, to an advisory council led by an Executive Director has been challenging and rewarding with strengthened leadership in San Lucas and continued faithful support in the United States, especially in Minnesota.
Arch Mrkvicka has led the transition with determination and commitment… and more than a few sleepless nights of prayer. He is ready to step back (but not away) and in the spring of 2016, the Advisory Council chose me to continue in his position. I began full-time work January 1st as Director and Arch will work half-time until June. After that, he will continue to volunteer with the Mission as well as serve on the Advisory Council. We will benefit from his energy and expertise for years to come.
I come to this work out of parish ministry, most recently as a lay minister in an Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, where my focus was on Youth and Social Justice Ministry. I had fallen in love with the land, culture and people of Guatemala on my first trip there in 1998 and then later meeting Father Greg and learning of the incredible work he was doing only deepened my dream of serving the people of that beautiful country. I first went to the Mission in 2008, and like so many of you, my life was changed. I began leading groups to work at the Mission and we developed a partnership with the village of Nueva Providencia, taking almost 15 different groups there in 7 years. In 2015 I began serving on the Advisory Council that supports the work of the Mission.
Our goal is to build on the great work that has been done over the last 55 plus years and keep focusing on the two most important goals of the Mission: empowering the people of San Lucas and providing life-changing experiences for our visitors and volunteers.
First and foremost is to strengthen and solidify our fundraising efforts so that we can continue to faithfully support our friends and partners in San Lucas. All of the great work of the Mission is built on the generosity of thousands of supporters. Without that continued generosity, our work cannot continue.
One of the most important lessons I learned in ministry was that the role of a leader is to ask, “What is God already doing here? And how can I help?” God is doing wonderful things in San Lucas and my job, OUR job, is to do all that we can to help continue that work.
I look forward with great anticipation to working alongside all of you, to continue to further the legacy of Father Greg, and to continue to walk in solidarity with the people of San Lucas, together.
Executive Director, Friends of San Lucas
Letter from our Previous Executive Director
We are grateful to you for your interest in the mission and your willingness to help us continue the great legacy and vision of Fr. Greg Schaffer. As Fr. Greg loved to say – “Come and See”. We invite you to come to San Lucas to experience the mission. Many things have changed since Fr. Greg’s untimely death in 2012. But much remains the same.
We still have a mission school with 550 children in attendance. Our clinic/hospital had over 14,000 patient visits last year. Our coffee project is still buying coffee from small farmers that produce some of the highest quality coffee in the world; our employee’s process it and we sell about 40,000 lbs. of Juan Ana coffee each and every year. And we continue to pay the farmers 20% above world market prices for their coffee, just as Fr. Greg did, so they can better feed their families. Our construction crew is building new homes, an average of one per month; building approximately 250 high efficiency wood burning stoves per year; and doing many other smaller construction related projects. The Women’s Center is operational and doing phenomenal work, helping poor Mayan women learn new skills such as using new and improved methods to weave, cooking, canning etc. as well as taking personal finance and banking classes, domestic violence classes and other related skill building classes. It is truly being run as Fr. Greg had envisioned it working.
Our new leadership team, headed up by Jose Leonel Tun, has focused on creating a transparent, open accounting system and Leonel leads with the heart of Fr. Greg as his guide. Our employees have a ‘Mission Mass’ once a month; and all meetings begin and end in prayer. Employees are told by our leadership team at the mission that they are working for the mission only to be of service to God, service to the mission and service to each other. I believe there is great hope for the future of the San Lucas Mission because of these new leaders and their focus on leading with integrity and prayer.
As Pope Francis recently stated: “working for justice is not simply a moral obligation; for us Christians, it is a commandment. He also went on to state that “Labor, Lodging and Land, (he calls them ‘the three ‘L’s) are sacred rights. He stated that “something is dreadfully wrong in the world when so many farmers are without land; so many families are without a home and so many laborers are without their rights.”
I believe that the San Lucas Mission is attempting to respond to these demands that Pope Francis has articulated so clearly. So please, “Come and See” the changes that have occurred at the mission and the things that haven’t changed. We would love to have you work in solidarity with the people of San Lucas as they struggle through the ‘process of poverty’, and to help them see their true dignity as loved sons and daughters of God.
Executive Director, Friends of San Lucas