A missionary partnership between the Diocese of Arlington, VA, and the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana, in the Dominican Republic, the Bánica Mission has created a special bond between the two communities of faithful.
History of the Mission
In 1991 the Diocese of Arlington adopted the parishes of Bánica and Pedro Santana, with the welcome and support of the Bishop of San Juan de la Maguana, in the Dominican Republic. Since then, the Diocese has provided priests, volunteers, and material support, and donations to the more than 13,000 faithful people living in the towns of Bánica, Pedro Santana, Sabana Cruz, and the more than 60 surrounding rural communities known as campos.
The first missionary sent by Arlington was Rev. Gerard Creedon. Fr. Creedon organized the new parish of San Francisco de Asis in Bánica, and assisted in the reorganization of the existing parish of San Jose in Pedro Santana.
Since Fr. Creedon, an additional eleven priests have ministered to the Bánica Mission. Msgr. Thomas Cassidy, Rev. Donald Rooney, Very Rev. Patrick L. Posey, V.F., Rev. John O'Hara, Rev. Daniel Gee, Rev. Christopher Murphy, Rev. Keith O'Hare, Rev. Jason Weber, and Rev. Jeb Donelan all served the Bánica Mission. Currently, Rev. Stephen McGraw and Rev. Scott Sina are assigned to the mission.
Bánica Mission Programs
In addition to the day-to-day administration of the parochial needs, the Bánica Mission runs several extracurricular programs for families and students in the mission. These additional programs are funded entirely by private donations from parishioners with the Diocese of Arlington. These programs are designed to provide financial assistance, or spiritual and educational enrichment.
- Jovenes Misioneros Scholarship Program: Provides full tuition scholarships to students attending college in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.
- Sponsor a Family Program: Assists selected families with food and medical expenses.
- Sponsor a Seminarian Program: Assists students at the seminary with living and educational expenses as they study and prepare for the priesthood.
Bánica Mission Projects
As and where needed, the Arlington Mission Office spearheads additional projects to benefit the Bánica Mission. Generally speaking, these projects are limited to building or construction works with a determined budget and estimated time frame for completion. These projects are reviewed and approved by the Arlington Mission Office, with funding sourced from private, designated donations.
Since 1991 when the Diocese of Arlington partnered with the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana our projects have included:
- Construction of a school computer lab;
- Construction of a school library;
- Construction of homes for individual families; and
- Installation of cement floors in existing family houses.
From time to time, the running of the Bánica Missions incurs challenges and costs that not only fall outside of the day-to-day running of the mission, but also are beyond the scope of the Mission’s Projects. Nonetheless, the Arlington Mission office works to address these needs and cover these costs to help ensure the success of the Bánica Mission. Generally speaking, these extraordinary expenses can include:
- Major repairs to buildings and mission infrastructure;
- Purchase of motor vehicles for mission activities;
- Two flights to the United States plus car rental per year for each priest serving in the mission; and
- Travel expenses to the United States for mission-related fundraising events, e.g., the 25th Anniversary Celebration in 2016.
Funding for the Bánica Mission
Funding for the Bánica Mission comes from a combination of sources including individual donations, annual 2nd collections, and the Bishop's Lenten Appeal. Every month, the Bánica Mission receives a monthly stipend, including funds contributed through the Mission Cooperative Plan. This stipend pays operational costs of the mission, including utilities, general maintenance, and all costs of running the parish K-8 school, Colegio San Francisco Javier.
The Arlington Mission Office is responsible for operational and fiduciary oversight of the Bánica Mission, and acts as liaison between the priests in the mission and the Chancery of the Diocese of Arlington.