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Monday, February 28, 2011

Priest to embark on 52nd trip to the Dominican Republic

Swarms of insects, sweltering heat and the occasional trek up a mountain on the back of a hoofed animal hasn’t thwarted the Rev. Joachim Lally from journeying to the Dominican Republic to bring comfort to those in need.

And at age 71, the Roman Catholic priest sees no reason to stop now.

Although known as the Caribbean’s largest tourist destination, hurricanes, chronic unemployment and a dearth of safe, drinkable water make life in the Dominican Republic challenging, Lally said.

Despite such hardships, his bond with the Dominican people only grows stronger with the passing of time.

They are a joy-filled, generous people who willingly give what little they have, said Lally, a member of the Paulist community at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in downtown Grand Rapids.

And he finds their candor refreshing.

“We Americans read between the lines — the cocktail chatter,” Lally said. “But the Dominicans don’t use sarcasm. What you see is what you get, and what you get is what you see.”

By his estimation, Lally has made 51 trips to this country in the Caribbean Sea since 1984.

He’ll go there again in early March for an eight-day mission trip to the city of Puerto Plata.


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