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‘Deacon Doc’ makes 16th mission trip

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by Barbara Lengers/Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church

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What is God calling you to do? That is the question Bob “Deacon Doc” Donofrio asked the congregation of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church after he returned from a mission trip to Central America.
Nine years ago, when Donofrio retired from his work as an orthopedic surgeon, he moved to South Carolina to be near his grandchildren and enjoy his retirement with a little golf and rest.
Shortly thereafter, he awoke one day to find he had absolutely nothing to do.
After a search on his computer, Donofrio learned of an informational meeting at a local church for Catholic Charities (now International Ministries).
The first person he met there was Deacon Ed Pietler. Donofrio introduced himself as a recently retired surgeon. Before even saying hello, Pietler responded with, “Great, you’re coming to Guatemala with us.” Donofrio signed on and has since made 16 mission trips.
The Diocese of Charleston International Ministries tends to the medical needs of the Mayan villages in the mountains through this mission twice a year. The diocese, led by Bishop Robert Guglielmone, supports these missions by paying for the medicines given to patients at no cost to them.
“This mission allows us to live the gospel and love our neighbor as ourselves,” the bishop said of the trip he made with Donofrio at the start of the summer.
With the bishop’s support, Donofrio and Deacon Gabe Cuervo were able to extend their one-week trip to Guatemala with an additional two-day trip to San Salvador, with the help of the Sisters of Bethany. These are the types of endeavors funded by a Bishop’s Appeal.
The next trip is Sept. 30-Oct. 7. If you are interested in helping with this mission, visit the Diocese of Charleston website, http://12468.sites.ecatholic.com, and click on International Ministries under the Offices tab.
“In one way or another, we are challenged by Christ to care for one another,” Donofrio told his church. “The seventh commandment binds us to care for the lives of those less well off. We must be God’s response to their cries.”