Zaragoza is the town in which COAR began and still thrives.
From the beginning in 1980 the community rallied around Fr. Ken and their parish of Nuestra Señora del Pilar. Before the children could move to our current location (up the hill) the townsfolk took orphans into their homes, sometimes nursing them along with their own newborns, supplied food from their small means, clothes and toys, and most of all: love and security.
The mayor, parish pastor, and all the businesses in town interact with COAR constantly. Together they make a strong village, and we all know it takes a village to raise a child.
Zaragoza faces challenges like all communities in El Salvador
Violence from organized crime gangs is a large problem in all of El Salvador and in Zaragoza, in particular. (learn more through a PBS documentary)
We do our best to raise the children with skills, confidence, and the moral compass to avoid the temptation, pressure, or need to join a gang. Your gifts make that possible.
A great ally is our parish pastor, Padre Adonay Chicas. He puts himself at risk every time he preaches resistance to the gangs.
Nuestra Señora del Pilar
Our Parish and its Pastor
The parish is packed on Sundays. This great new space took many years to build (they raised most of it themselves, $1 at a time!) but it was worth it. The old adobe church was lost in the great earthquakes of 2001. It is the home of the community.
Padre Adonay preaching at mass for his 15th anniversary of ordination.
Padre Adonay at a blessing ceremony for the COAR security force.
Rebuilding after the earthquakes of 2001
All that remains of the original church, this bell-tower.
A procession into the semi-completed church. Raising money for the new church building has been a challenge and a temptation to the gangs, both.
But nothing deters the COAR band. Roof or no roof, they love a party!