Only seven months ago, Father Miguel Acevedo was the pastor of the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, in Caracas, where he was in daily contact with the misery and hunger that is gripping large swaths of the population in Venezuela and the political tension that divides that country.

Acevedo is now in Los Angeles, where he is associate pastor at St. Paul’s Church in Mid-City. Lately, he and fellow Venezuelan priests serving in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles have been considering ways to help those in need, their brother priests included, who remain in the country. 

“Above all, hope is something that all priests can and should offer their parishioners, so we want to mobilize to do things that will help our colleagues keep that hope alive,” Acevedo said in an interview with Angelus News. 

“Sadly, in Venezuela, many priests don’t even have enough to sustain themselves. As for the population there, we know very well what the greatest needs are: attention to vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children, and pregnant women,” he added.

Acevedo is one of a handful of local Venezuelan-born priests who have recently begun to meet in light of their country’s deepening political and economic crisis. There were six of them when they met earlier this year, but Father Carlos Villasmil, who had recently arrived from Maracaibo, Venezuela, to St. Emydius Church in Lynwood, died suddenly in August.

Two years ago, Father Alexander Hernandez went from being a pastor in the once-privileged area of Caracas of “El Cafetal” to being an associate pastor at Epiphany Church in South El Monte.

“In my last parish [in Venezuela] the collection was not even enough to buy a light bulb. How can a priest survive in this situation? They also need to eat,” added Hernández, who said he finances a fund to help 150 needy children in Cota 905, an impoverished sector of the city of Caracas battered by serious violence and misery. 

The plight of the Venezuelan priests attracted the attention of Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gómez, who made a point of meeting personally with the small group for the first time in May 2019. 

“First we had a meeting with Archbishop Gomez and then the archdiocese connected us with a local Catholic Relief Services (CRS) contact and some ideas came out,” Acevedo said. “There is the possibility of organizing activities in the communities where we serve and also draw on a fund from the Archdiocese of Caracas to help priests who are going through great calamity through the use of intention Masses.”  

Archbishop Gomez said he is very concerned about the situation in that country. 

“I wanted to listen to their concerns and any additional information [the Venezuelan priests] could share, and personally express my attention to the issue, and to support them,” Archbishop Gomez said. 

Full story at Angelus News.