Ixim began in 2002, in response to Pope St. John Paul II’s call for dioceses in developed nations to form relationships in solidarity with dioceses in the developing world. Following the first mission trip in 2004, Ixim: Spirit of Solidarity was incorporated as a 501(c)3 under the Archdiocese of Omaha to continue to promote the our relationship, support ongoing projects, and deepen the faith and connectedness of the people of the Diocese of Huehuetenango and the Archdiocese of Omaha.
Here's a detailed history of the founding of Ixim, as well as a list of trips and some of our projects since our foundation.
During the summer of 2002 the Diocese of Huehuetenango initiated a series of phone conversations with Sergio and Jill Sosa concerning the possibility of obtaining help from the Guatemalan community in Omaha and other funding organizations to support the work of the Church in Western Guatemala. Sergio Sosa had been a seminarian for the diocese and had continued a relationship with the diocese after he married and moved to Omaha. Jill Lynch Sosa had worked in the diocese for the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. One of the reasons the diocese of Huehuetenango initiated the conversation was the loss of funding from the Foundation. The funding was lost because the diocese preferred to use a communitarian approach toward distribution of funds while the foundation preferred that the monies be distributed to individuals.
On September 7, 2002 Fr. Damian Zuerlein met with Sergio and Jill Sosa to discuss the options that would be possible in the Archdiocese of Omaha to help with the situation in the diocese of Huehuetenango. Fr. Damian spoke of the idea of twinning parishes. A meeting was held between Susan Naatz, a pastoral minister at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Omaha, and Fr. Damian Zuerlein to discuss the work of the Global Outreach Committee in the parish and see if it was possible for this committee to help with the Guatemala project. Susan took the proposal to the committee.
In October of 2002 Bishop Rudolfo Bobadilla extended an invitation for persons from Omaha to visit the Diocese of Huehuetenango to explore the possibility of developing a relationship between the two dioceses.
On November 20, Sergio Sosa and Fr. Zuerlein met with Archbishop Curtiss to inform him of the exploratory trip in January to Guatemala. The Archbishop was open and encouraging about the trip and shared some of his own experiences with a mission in Guatemala while he was Bishop of Great Falls, Montana. He was not open to any ideas of starting a single mission in the diocese of Huehuetenango, but would consider the idea of a sister diocese relationship.
From January 2-10, 2003 (Trip 0), Fr. Zuerlein, Sergio Sosa, Craig McVea and David Bacon met with Bishop Bobadilla, diocesan clergy, diocesan officials, and lay parish leaders to discuss the idea of a relationship between the two dioceses. They also began the ground work for a group of laity from Omaha to visit Guatemala during the coming year. Santa Eulalia was chosen for the site of the first visit.
A series of presentations were given during the late winter and early spring of 2003 to encourage interest in attending a mission trip to Guatemala. Those presentations included Creighton University, Mt Michael, and Skutt High Schools.
At St. Ann’s Church in Omaha on February 8, 2003, a celebration was held for the local Guatemalan community from Santa Eulalia. Fr. Zuerlein informed the several hundred people gathered about the project to begin building a relationship between the two dioceses. On February 13, a presentation was made to the Global Outreach Committee at St. Vincent de Paul parish inviting them to consider attending the mission trip to Guatemala.
At the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Omaha, on March 17, six members of the local Guatemalan community and those who went to Huehuetenango in January met with Archbishop Curtiss to express their desire for building a relationship between the Diocese of Huehuetenango and the Archdiocese. They committed to working with the Archdiocese to help prepare those who were going to experience the mission trips. They also promised to work to improve the life of their community here in Omaha. The Archbishop was very supportive of the idea and placed great emphasis on having a quality experience for the first mission group. He also raised concerns about how the local church was responding to the needs of the Guatemalan immigrants.
In May 2003, Fr. Damian, Sergio Sosa, Susan Naatz and Valerie Niemeyer met to discuss the first mission trip. It was agreed that the initiative was not prepared to take youth groups to Guatemala. They agreed to form a group of adults and chose January 2004 as a time to travel since Lourdes Gouveia was on her winter break.
During the summer of 2003 a series of meetings were held with those who had expressed interest in doing a mission trip and to prepare for a visit to Omaha of Bishop Bobadilla and Padre Marcos. From August 27-31, Bishop Bobadilla and Padre Marcos met with the local Guatemalan community, toured a meat packing plant in Schuyler, had dinner with the Outreach Committee of St. Vincent de Paul Parish and those who were interested in a mission trip. They met with Archbishop Curtiss during which Archbishop Curtiss pledged his support for building a relationship between the two diocese and offered an initial monetary gift to the Diocese of Huehuetenango. The Archbishop also celebrated with the Guatemalan community in Omaha with a mass, dinner, and dance at St. Ann’s church. Those who were interested in the mission trip also attended the celebration at St. Ann’s and were honored as special guests.
The first mission trip to Guatemala was Janury 7-18, 2004 (Trip 1). Fourteen people were in the group. Seven group members were from St. Vincent de Paul Church. In addition to building many wonderful, new relationships and learning about the culture and the church, they also ran a medical clinic and painted a grade school. One of the group members was Cindy Gonzales from the Omaha World Herald. Cindy wrote a beautiful, 3-part series about the mission project and the people of Guatemala.
The team that went to Guatemala and leaders of the Omaha Guatemalan community had monthly follow-up meetings to reflect on their experience, to work toward the institutionalization of the project, to work on ways to get the message of the experience out to others in the Archdiocese, and to grow in the relationship with immigrants from Guatemala living in Omaha. Presentations on the experience were given to many parishes and groups in the Omaha area.
On April 2, members of the team that went to Guatemala and local Guatemalan leaders met for an hour with Archbishop Curtiss to share the experience with him and to seek his support for the ongoing development of the project. He was again supportive of the ongoing development of the relationship. He suggested that the project become an institution under the auspices of the Propagation of the Faith Office and apply for 501(c)3 status. He asked for a copy of the long-range plan for developing the relationship. He saw the importance of inviting archdiocesan officials attending the next trip but was not too certain that many of them would want to attend.
In September 2004 (Trip 2), a second mission group traveled to Guatemala to meet with the people, run a medical clinic, and refurbish a convent.
In January 2005, Bishop Bobadilla returned to Omaha to continue to emphasize the need for this partnership and to collaborate about the future of Ixim.
In June 29-July 10 (Trip 3), twenty people traveled to Guatemala in the third mission trip. Several of the missionaries in this group were medical personnel. There was a major emphasis on providing medicine and medical services. They also refurbished a school. They participated in a ground-breaking ceremony for the Disciples of the Good Shepherd formation house. The Disciples of the Good Shepherd are a group of women religious supported by Ixim.
In May, Iximeros (ie. those who support Ixim) and the local Guatemalan community in Omaha celebrate Mother's Day.
In July (Trip 4). missionaries travel to San Sebastian Coatan. The first Ixim-supported water plant is built in Huehuetenango.
In September (Trip 5), another group travels to Huehuetenango.
In the winter of 2006, construction begins on the Disciples of the Good Shepherd formation house in Huehuetenango.
In the spring of 2007, the Ixim Education Committee is formed and the sister schools program begins with St. Vincent de Paul and Saint Cecilia as the first two schools in Omaha..
In June (Trip 6), missionaries travel to San Antonio Huista. Two more water plants are built.
Also in June, the Mayan community in Omaha establishes Pixan Ixim, a community organization formed with the help of Ixim.
In winter, the Ixim Leadership, representing both Omaha and Huehuetenango, meet in Antigua Guatemala for a biennial summit.
In spring, The Disciples of the Good Shepherd move into their new facility, supported by supporters from Ixim.
In June (Trip 7), missionaries visit several previous mission sites.
Also that summer, Ixim begins training health promoters through the Diocese of Huehuetenango.
In August, a third sister school is added to the sister school program as St. Columbkille in Papillionis paired with Santa Eulalia.
In September, five hundred of the first “Agua Cero” bottles are purchased from the Ixim-supported water plant in Huehuetenango.
In Omaha, Ixim begins ESL classes.
In May, the Disciples of the Good Shepherd welcome new members into final vows in consecrated life.
In November, members of the Ixim Omaha leadership and Water Program Committee visit the water purification sites.
In January (Trip 8), missionaries travel to Santa Eulalia.
In June (Trip 9), missionaries travel to Aguacatan.
In summer, Ixim works with the Diocese of Huehuetenango to construct and distribute the first 30 home filter systems to members of the Parish Council in Aguacatan.
Trip 10 is postponed until 2011.
In June (Trip 10), missionaries travel to San Miguel Acatan.
In June (Trip 11), missionaries travel to San Miguel Acatan as part of an ongoing fiver-year partnership.
In June (Trip 12), missionaries travel to San Miguel Acatan.
In June (Trip 13), missionaries travel to San Miguel Acatan.
In July, Ixim Leadership meet in Antigua Guatemala to discuss continued work in San Miguel with new pastor as well as commit to water plant project in San Miguel Acatan.
In June (Trip 14), missionaries travel to San Miguel Acatan.
In June (Trip 15), missionaries travel to San Miguel Acatan.
In October, Ixim Leadership meets in Omaha for the biennial summit.
In December, Ixim welcome Charlie Petro as new Executive Director. Charlie comes from Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Tanzania with previous mission experience in Peru.
In June (Trip 16), missionaries travel to San Sebastian Coatan for first year of five-year partnership..
In February, Ixim Leadership meets in Antigua Guatemala for biennial summit.
Trip 17 is postponed due to coronavirus.
In May, Ixim launches COVID-19 response effort providing assistance to local migrant community and families in need in Huehuetenango.