El Cercado Community Leaders Celebrate Fellowship at the Annual Pentecost Celebration

Fellowship is a significant part of the community in El Cercado, Dominican Republic. Most community members follow the Catholic Church, often adding other beliefs onto their core religion. The community’s strength comes from their effort in being compassionate.

“People have an active faith and a passive faith. The people who are active come to the church and they work in the social ministry committees, they work with the community. But many of these people have a passive faith in the sense that they don’t come to church, but they are active in community development and working for the well being of the community,” Joana Peterson, a missionary with the Catholic church said.

Community members and local priest in Manyai, a neighborhood in El Cercado, Dominican Republic bless a water tank on June 10, 2023. (Taleen Hanna)

Peterson has worked in El Cercado to improve health, agriculture, and education for 20 years and in the Dominican for 40 years. She organizes community events, like the annual Pentecost celebration at Villa Andres.

Community members work together in addressing their needs to include things like the water tanks at the heart of their aqueducts system. Since they are all involved in the entire process of building and maintaining the water tank, they often celebrate its installation with a blessing and a ceremony.

Peterson said that community members believe that the Indians brought water to the Dominican Republic.

Fr. Francisco de la Rosa blesses the water tank as well as the community in Manyai. Joana Peterson said that they give thanks to God for giving them the resources and manpower to bring water from the mountains into the community. (Taleen Hanna)

“We go and we give thanks to the Indians because here we don’t have any Indians. The Indians were all killed off by Spanish diseases or too much hard work. The people believe that the spirit of the Indians are still here and particularly in the sources of water,” she said.

A house in Sabana Bonita is leaning over but is still inhabited. (Taleen Hanna)

In addition to thanking God for their water, the people also entrust their safety to their faith.

The streets of many communities in El Cercado have houses that are noticeable leaning over or falling, yet people still live in them. Peterson said that they have had houses that have fallen over and killed people even though the popular belief is that God will keep the house from falling.

“Some people say that a house that is falling over will not fall down completely because God won’t allow the people to get killed in a house that should be knocked down and is poor,” Peterson said.

The people in El Cercado and their combination of many different beliefs result in a tight-knit and lively community.

Events like the Pentecost celebration bring the community together to celebrate their strong faith in God as well as in one another.