Skip to content

Activities During 2010

This is an archive page for reports about the work of the Companion Diocese Commission in the Dominican Republic in 2010.

Annual Report for 2010

The Annual Report of the Companion Diocese Commission
Prepared for the 190th Convention of the Diocese of Georgia
February 10-12, 2011

2010 has been a great year for partnership between the Diocese of Georgia and the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic. Each year, this partnership grows stronger, and both dioceses are able to work together to meet the physical, educational and spiritual needs of the Dominican Episcopal Church. The Diocese of Georgia assists with the ministry of the Dominican Church by sharing resources from its abundance with its brothers and sisters in the Dominican, who labor endlessly to bring about the kingdom of God in their community. The Diocese of Georgia accomplishes this task through prayer, presence and financial contributions. In conjunction with the Companion Diocese Commission, four teams went to the Dominican Republic this year.

In February, an Exploration Team of seven people from the diocese toured the Dominican to look for possible mission sites. While on the tour, several communities were identified as future sites for possible mission trips. As a result of the Exploration Tour, St. Patrick’s Albany selected the Church of the Resurrection in Azua, and returned in October. They worked on local housing, identified needs in the community, developed new relationships, and set new goals for future trips.

Bishop Benhase accepted an invitation to attend the annual Diocesan Convention in the Dominican Republic in February and then attended the bi-annual meeting of the Dominican Development Group. Bishop Holguin attended Bishop Benhase’s consecration and then preached and celebrated at St. Paul the Apostle, Savannah. After the service, Bishop Holguin requested that St. Paul’s send a mission team to the seminary in Santo Domingo to teach liturgical chanting. The team went in September and plans to return again next year. They also visited an elder care facility in Boca Chica, bringing with them donations of clothing.

The Dominican Development Group (DDG) is a non- profit 501-C organization with the mission of helping to raise funds for the Dominican Church. Due to budgetary short falls in the budget of General Convention, the DDG helps to secure funding for the endowment, which will eventually help the Dominican Church to become financially solvent.

The Christ Church, Valdosta Team made their 8th annual trip to the village of El Pedregal in June. The team worked on local housing, attended the school graduation, provided Bible School for the children in the village and taught knitting classes.

The next Exploration Tour has been set for February 22-28. The group will depart from Orlando on Tuesday the 22nd and return Monday the 28th. The cost of the trip is approximately $700. Everyone is responsible for making his/her own plane reservations with Jet Blue. If interested, please contact The Rev. Tar Drazdowski at 229-242-5115 or at

There are many ways to partner with the Dominican Church. Financial contributions are always accepted and needed. The Dominican diocesan office handles all financial donations; one should designate funds in the memo line of one’s check to insure that these donations are used for their intended purpose. A $300 donation sends a child in the Dominican to school for one year. In return for this scholarship, donors receive information about the students they sponsor. To route a contribution through a non-profit organization, one might use the DDG. To do this, one should contact Dr. Bob Stevens, Executive Director of the DDG, using the following information:

The Dominican Development Group
c/o Dayspring Episcopal Center
PO Box 661
Ellenton, FL, USA 34222
(941) 776-1018 or (941) 776-0405

One can also contact the Rev. Tar Drazdowski at for more information.

-The Rev. Tar Drazdowski

Mission Trip Report (Azua, October 23-30, 2010)

Padre Mosquea and Fr. Weldon at the proposed site for a new Episcopal church near Azua.
Padre Mosquea and Fr. Weldon at the proposed site for a new Episcopal church near Azua.

The Diocese of Georgia conducted a mission trip to Azua, a city on the southwestern coast of the Dominican Republic, during October 23-30, 2010. This mission trip was organized by St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Albany, GA, and led by St. Patrick’s rector, The Rev. Jay Weldon. Seven people from three congregations within the Diocese of Georgia participated in this trip. The team flew from Atlanta to Santo Domingo on October 23rd and traveled to Azua in a minivan with a driver chartered by the mission liaison staff in the headquarters office of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic. They stayed in the Hotel San Ramon and ate most meals in the home of the local priest, Padre Jesus Mosquea. Padre Mosquea is the vicar in charge of three congregations in the Azua area: San Jorge, Espritu Santo, and La Reconciliacin. The team’s meals were prepared by two local parishioners.

The team’s primary activities included concrete-block construction work on two houses, clearing debris from the construction site of La Reconciliacin, and examining potential future mission work sites in the area. The team also visited parishioners in their homes and participated in evening worship services at San Jorge and La Reconciliacin. They relaxed one afternoon and evening on the beach south of Azua.

Possibilities identified for future trips included building simple concrete-block houses, upgrading existing houses with better kitchens and bathrooms, and constructing a church building for the Espritu Santo congregation. It would cost about $2,000 (US) to build a house, and $100 (US) to build a bathroom. The team observed that many families with children have no actual bathroom in their homes, but instead hang sheets in their backyard around a large hole in the ground. To a team member with three children of her own, an expenditure of $100 (US) for this purpose seemed like a wonderful way to help a Dominican family. The congregation of Espritu Santo has been in existence for 40 years in a small town about 15 miles from Azua, and it is the only church in that town. Most people there have no transportation to get to Azua on Sundays, and after 40 years, they still have no church. Instead, they meet in the backyard of their senior warden’s home. They own land for a church, but do not have the $10,000 (US) needed to build it.

Another possibility for mission work in this area would be to help continue the construction of La Reconciliacin. This church in Azua was in the process of construction when the recession hit, thereby stopping all such activities. While the shell of the building is built, it is still not yet to the point of hosting church services. Although it would cost approximately $45,000 (US) to finish the church, the vicar there estimates that for $10,000 (US) they could improve the building enough to start holding services there.

On Friday, October 29th, the team returned to Santo Domingo and stayed overnight in the Hotel Mercure, located in the historic district of that city. On Saturday, October 30th, they flew from Santo Domingo back to Atlanta.

For more information on this mission trip, contact The Rev. Jay Weldon.

Mission Trip Report (Santo Domingo, September 27 – October 2, 2010)

Charles Todd from St. Paul's, Savannah, in a music class with seminarians in Santo Domingo.
Charles Todd from St. Paul’s, Savannah, in a music class with seminarians in Santo Domingo.

The Diocese of Georgia conducted a mission trip to the Dominican Episcopal seminary in Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic, during September 27 – October 2, 2010. This mission trip was organized by The Episcopal Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Savannah and led by St. Paul’s rector, The Very Reverend William Willoughby, III. Five people from St. Paul’s participated in this trip. The team flew from Savannah to Atlanta and then on to Santo Domingo on September 27th, and stayed in the Renaissance Santo Domingo Jaraqua Hotel, within walking distance of the seminary. They ate some of their meals in the seminary’s dining room with the seminarians, and other meals in their hotel and in restaurants in the city.

The team’s primary activities included teaching classes in service music for the seminarians, delivering donations of chalices and patens for Dominican churches, visiting the residents of the Bishop Isaac Home for Seniors in Boca Chica, and purchasing a large set of handmade knitted and crocheted goods for transport back to Savannah and re-sale in the St. Paul’s parish shop. The service music lessons had been requested by The Rt. Rev. Julio Cesar Holquin, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic, when he visited St. Paul’s on Sunday, January 24, 2010, while he was in Savannah to participate in the consecration of Bishop Benhase. During these classes, traditional Gregorian and Ambrosian chants and the Eucharistic prayers including the salutations, collects, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer were taught. Bishop Holquin had also written about the need for chalices and patens for churches in his diocese in a notice placed in the August 2010 newsletter of the Dominican Development Group, and the St. Paul’s mission team responded to this request by carefully packing fourteen sets of communion vessels in their luggage and presenting them to Bishop Holguin along with financial donations for the work of the Diocese, including the support of the seminary and the Bishop Isaac Home. Prior to the team’s departure from Savannah, the youth of St. Paul’s had prepared written greetings for the residents of the Bishop Isaac Home, and one of the team members, Deacon Susan Gahagan, personally delivered those greetings when she visited there. The knitted and crocheted goods had been made by residents of El Pedregal using supplies brought there during an earlier mission trip in June, 2010, organized by Christ Church, Valdosta, and their delivery to the St. Paul’s team in Santo Domingo was coordinated by the diocesan mission team support staff. In addition to these activities, the team also collected copies of Hispanic sacred music to take back for use in St. Paul’s weekly Hispanic service.

With Fr. Willoughby as celebrant, the team members took part in a Celebration of the Holy Eucharist on the Feast Day of St. Michael and All Angels in the Church of the Epiphany on the grounds of the seminary, with parts of the service chanted by the Dominican seminarians and the team members.

On October 2, the team flew from Santo Domingo via Atlanta to Savannah. The knitted goods from El Pedregal were placed in the parish shop for re-sale, with the proceeds to be used to support future mission work in the Dominican Republic. Their mission trip was the subject of an article in the December 2010 issue of “Joint CD Newsletter“, a publication of the Dominican Development Group.

For more information on this mission trip, contact The Very Rev. William Willoughby, IIIThe Rev. Deacon Susan Gahagan; or Mr. Charles Todd, Hispanic Missioner at St. Paul’s, Savannah.

Mission Trip Report (El Pedregal, June 12-19, 2010)

The Rev. Tar Drazdowski accompanies a student in a school graduation parade.
The Rev. Tar Drazdowski accompanies a student in a school graduation parade.

The Diocese of Georgia conducted a mission trip to the Episcopal Camp of the Transfiguration (Campamento Episcopal Monte de la Transfiguración) from June 12-19, 2010. The Camp of the Transfiguration is located in El Pedregal, a small village about 2 miles east of the large city of Jarabacoa. This mission trip was organized by Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, and included 18 people from 5 congregations, including three teenagers and one child accompanied by their parents or other adult family member. This trip in 2010 marked the ninth year that a mission trip from the Diocese of Georgia has come to this location. The team flew from Orlando to Santo Domingo on June 12th and rode in a chartered bus from the airport to El Pedregal, a trip of about 4 hours. The bus transport was coordinated by the mission team support staff of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic. The team members stayed in the dormitory rooms of the Episcopal camp, and their meals were prepared by members of the camp staff and served in the camp dining room.

On Sunday, June 13, the team’s first full day in El Pedregal, The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, assisted by The Rev. Deacon Carlos Santana, deacon-in-charge of the camp and principal of the Episcopal school, celebrated Eucharist with the local Episcopal congregation in the church on the grounds of the camp, and had a walking tour through the village of El Pedregal. Later that afternoon, some team members joined village residents for swimming and cliff diving in a nearby river.

On Monday – Wednesday, June 14-16, the team’s primary activities were assisting with the construction of two homes in the village of El Pedregal, teaching Vacation Bible School classes and supervising playground activities for the village children, and teaching knitting classes to the village residents. The construction work involved clearing the sites of vegetation and debris, erection of concrete block walls, and reinforcing corners with concrete mix poured into wooded frames and then allowed to set. On the last day of construction at one house site, wooden roof beams were cut and put into place. All construction was supervised by Dominicans, and the team members supplied much of the manual labor required. Vacation Bible School included songs, Bible stories, and individual craft projects, followed by supervised play on the camp’s playground equipment. The knitting classes made use of donated yarn, needles and project patterns for purses and flowers that had been translated into Spanish and laminated to protect them from the humid conditions. The knitting classes were held in the camp dining room in the afternoons, but often continued informally into the evening as the less-experienced knitters asked for extra help.

After supper on the evening of June 16th, the team members were invited to attend a softball game between a team that included two members of the Episcopal youth group in El Pedregal and another team from the Jarabacoa area. The game was held in a softball stadium on the outskirts of Jarabacoa, and the presence of the mission team was recognized over the public address speaker system by the game announcer.

On Thursday, June 17, the team set up equipment on the grounds of the camp for a “splash day” water party for the village children, complete with water hoses, inflatable swimming pools, “slip-and-slide” tarpaulins, and a meal featuring hot dogs. While that party was ongoing, the team participated in the graduation exercise for the Episcopal elementary school located at the camp. They walked in a parade with the school children, their teachers, and their parents from the outskirts of the city of Jarabacoa through the village of El Pedregal, and were invited to sit in places of honor while the graduation exercise was conducted in a plaza in front of the school building. The Rev. Tar Drazdowski was presented a plaque in recognition of her work as leader of the Christ Church mission team over the years in the construction and support of the church and school. Following the graduation exercise, the village residents and the mission team members enjoyed a “pot luck” supper in the camp’s dining room, followed by dancing.

On Friday, June 18th, the team left the camp and rode in a chartered bus to Santo Domingo, staying overnight in the Hotel Mercure. Early Saturday morning, they boarded the same chartered bus and rode to the Santo Domingo airport for their flight back to Orlando.

For more information about this mission trip, contact The Rev. Tar Drazdowski at Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta GA.

Exploration Trip Report (Azua, February 22-27, 2010)

Exploration team members walk with local church members to the construction site of La Reconciliación in Azua, February 2010.
Exploration team members walk with local church members to the construction site of La Reconciliación in Azua, February 2010.

The Diocese of Georgia conducted an Exploration Trip in the Diocese of the Dominican Republic during February 22-27, 2010. Based in San Pedro, the exploration team members visited several potential sites for mission trips. The trip included 7 people from 5 congregations. The team flew from Orlando to Santo Domingo on February 22nd, and rode in a diocesan van to San Pedro. They stayed in the Bishop Kellogg Center in San Pedro, the conference center of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, and many of their meals were prepared by the Center’s staff and served in the dining room there.

Each day the team members travelled in the diocesan van to one or more churches, schools, and clinics to see first-hand the possibilities for mission work. Sites visited included the following (city name first, church name second):

Azua – La Reconciliación; San Jorge; Espíritu Santo
Consuelo – San Gabriel
Jarabacoa (El Pedregal) – Monte de la Transfiguración, camp and school
San Pedro – Buen Pastor and clinic; San Esteban, clinic and school
Santa Fe – Santa Cruz and school
Santo Domingo – San Pedro & San Pablo

The members of the Exploration Team wrote this statement to summarize the findings of their trip:

“Your DR Exploration Team found itself at every turn to have been deeply humbled to meet the priests, men and women, who are leading the work of the Gospel there. Each has two or three congregations and one or more schools in their charge, and yet all dream of expanding their work. The breadth of vision and depth of commitment are awe-inspiring and, the Team is sure, infectious. We are convinced that ongoing contact with such priests and lay people of vision will strengthen the missions and parishes of our own diocese. Supporting the work in the Dominican Republic will not take away resources, but invigorate your congregation through mission and so expand your potential at home as well as away.”

The Exploration Team also prepared the following two video reports with information about short-term mission trips:

On February 26th, the team members moved to the Hotel Mercure in Santo Domingo to stay overnight in preparation for their flight back to Orlando on February 27th.

For more information on this trip, contact The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, Chair of the Companion Diocese Commission and Assistant Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta GA; or The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, Canon for Congregational Ministries, Diocese of Georgia.