Monte Sinaí

The Rostro de Cristo volunteer house in Monte Sinaí was constructed in 2010 and the retreat group house was later constructed in 2011.

Mount Sinai is located on the north side of Guayaquil off the Perimetral, a major highway that runs through the city. It is considered to be an invasion community, and it has been in existence for a little more than 10 years. Mount Sinai began when the private land owner/self-appointed community president Marco Solís began selling off parts of his land, categorized as agricultural space, to people who either were looking to move into Guayaquil from other parts of the country or to people who were renting apartments in the south side of the city at an extremely high cost. The process of legalization of the land has been complicated, especially recently, because although the residents of Mount Sinai have documentation that they have in fact purchased their own land, the land had been zoned for agricultural use rather than habitation.  Some of the land has been taken back by the government and redistributed, forcing the government to tear down houses in certain parts of Mount Sinai.

Development is coming steadily to Mt. Sinai. There are two paved roads (one of which is sponsored by the national government), many small businesses, and growing numbers of schools. Mount Sinai has been visited on multiple occasions by the President, Rafael Correa. Many families live in small, one room cane homes, there is no potable water, no phone lines, and trash collection is irregular. In the rainy season many roads are impassable and the flooding of homes is common. In the dry season, the lack of paved roads leads to dust problems and countless respiratory issues for the people.

The Parroquia Bautismo de Jesús is the main Catholic parish in the area of Monte Sinaí where volunteers live and work. It was established in January of 2008 by Fr. Colm Hogan, an Irish priest of the Society of St. James. When Fr. Colm arrived in Mount Sinai, there was no organized Catholic activity in the area. Many Catholics traveled 45 minutes to an hour to the center of Guayaquil to participate in weekly mass. Fr. Colm began his outreach saying small masses in neighbor’s homes and in a local public school. Thanks to his hard work, the support of the St. James Society, and collaboration from donors in Ireland, Canada, and the US, the Parroquia Bautismo de Jesús has grown immensely. Now consisting of two chapels and one main church, it serves hundreds of Mount Sinai´s residents.  The main church is named Corpus Cristi, the two smaller chapels are San Felipe Neri and Santa Teresa de Avila. There are three functioning religious education programs, weekly masses, prayer groups, music ministry, and a lively parish community. Fr. Colm returned to his parish in Ireland in May 2010.  For about 3 years, the parish was under the direction of Fr. John Malloy, also an Irish priest of the Society of St. James.  Fr. John left in the fall of 2013, and the current priest is from the Archdiocese of Guayaquil, Padre Gustavo.

RdC year-long volunteers and retreat groups in Mount Sinai participate in the community in many ways: by visiting neighbors, getting involved in parish life, and spending time with a variety of partner programs that serve the needs of the neighborhood, including Hogar de Cristo, Escuela San Felipe Neri, and Casa Don Bosco.