From the Deacon’s Bench
In the last newsletter, I talked about some history of the Anglican Church in Cuba. This time, I want to focus a bit more on the area where San Marcos, our companion parish, is located. San Marcos is found in the city of Holguin. It is the only Anglican Church in this city of 341,000 people. London has 380,000 people and 22 Anglican churches. Holguin is less densely populated with 528 people per square kilometer as opposed to 913 in London. Holguin’s area is 620 square kilometres while London is 420.
Holguin is the capital city of the province of Holguin and the fourth largest city in Cuba. The province of Holguin is known as the area in Cuba where Christopher Columbus first landed. In 2015, Pope Francis visited this area before he went on to the United States so as to commemorate Columbus’ landing.
One fact I found interesting is that the city of Holguin is the location of the brewery Cerveceria Bucanero. It makes three of the most popular beers in Cuba, Bucanero, Cristal and Mayabe. The interesting part is that we were told it was owned by Labatt’s brewery, which of course was founded in London in 1847. It is also home to the University of Holguin “Oscar Lucero Moya”. The university has about 5,000 students with faculties in mathematics, economics, engineering, agricultural sciences, humanities, law and social sciences.
The province of Holguin is on the north-east coast of Cuba. The city is served by an airport, the Frank Pais airport. Many tourists fly into Holguin as there are a significant number of tourist resorts in the region. Holguin is the location of one of the two Canadian consulates in Cuba. A hill named Loma de la Crux overlooks the city and has a large crucifix at the top. There are 450 steps going up the hill to the cross, or as we did, there is a road on which you can drive to it.
Apparently Oscar Lucero Moya, after whom the university was named, was one of the martyrs of the Cuban revolution. He was arrested by the police, tortured and killed while in police custody before the revolution succeeded. Frank Pais, after whom the airport was named, was another martyr of the revolution, arrested by the police in Santiago de Cuba in 1957 and killed by them. As is usual, there were bad things done by both sides of that civil war; being close to the United States we are often told only the one side however.
San Marcos is not located in a “church” building in the same way as St. Anne’s. We were told that new church buildings are not allowed to be constructed in the city. San Marcos worship from a home owned by a loving parishioner, Mrs. Maria Toledo. They have also purchased the house next door. The streets of Holguin are much different than London, and the buildings in a block appear all connected, with no green space. Heather and I have worshipped there on several occasions and have always received a very warm welcome. I would estimate about 25 to 30 worshippers were present at the same times that we attended. Worship occurs in the large front room of the house where there is a portable alter and chairs are set up. The service is from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer from the Episcopal Church.
As mentioned before, the incumbent is the Rev. Gil Fat Yero. He is married to Minelis Tamayo and they have two wonderful daughters. Check out their church’s Facebook page at Iglesia Episcopal San Marcos, Holguin!