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Guatemalan Society of Minnesota

The San Lucas Mission

San Lucas Tolimán Mission Church
The Catholic Church at San Lucas Tolimán.
Home of the San Lucas Mission
San Pedro La Laguna
San Pedro La Laguna is around Lake Atitlán from San Lucas and is surrounded by three volcanoes: Volcán Atitlán, Volcán Tolimán, and Volcán San Pedro.


About the town of San Lucas Tolimán

San Lucas TolimánSan Lucas Tolimán is a town of approximately 17,000 people in south-central Guatemala on the shores of the beautiful Lake Atitlán. Lake Atitlán is a large, clear, highland lake that is surrounded by three volcanoes. If you look at a map of Guatemala, the large lake on the southeast portion of the country is Lake Atitlán. Geographically, the Parish of San Lucas, home of the San Lucas Mission, is comprised of twenty-two communities varying in size from 20,000 people down to about 300 people.

San Lucas is a commercial, educational and medical center for thousands of people, mainly of Kakchiquel Mayan descent who live in surrounding villages and fincas (coffee plantations). San Lucas has schools with secondary and post-secondary programs. Many businesses support the daily needs of people including open markets three days a week, corner markets and construction supplies stores. The town continues to grow and expand. San Lucas is also increasingly a destination for tourists from the United States, Europe and from other countries. Annually many Minnesotans make their way to San Lucas to visit the lake and the town, and the San Lucas Mission to participate in various development projects.

The economy of the area is largely dependent on the success of the annual coffee crop. Large landowners, or finca owners, own most of the land for coffee cultivation, but increasingly, individual peasants are buying small plots of land and cultivating coffee to support their families, many with the support San Lucas Mission self-sufficiency programs. However, the majority of local peasants still depend on small plots of land for subsistence farming, mainly milpa (corn fields) or are totally dependent on fincas for work, food and shelter.

About the Clinic at the San Lucas Mission

The medical clinic managed by the San Lucas Mission is growing every year. Currently, different specialty clinics provide an array of services that greatly enhance the quality of life for people living in and around San Lucas. No health care facilities existed in San Lucas when the Mission, or Parroquia, began its work 30 years ago. In 1964, with the support of the Sisters of Notre Dame, a clinic was built to meet the people's needs.

Today the new, larger clinic that receives our support provides job training and employment opportunities for local young men and women. For example several young people are dental assistants who manage the dental clinic. They provide professional services and work with visiting dentists from the United States. Dentists and dental assistants seal children's teeth, make dentures, make fillings, and provide extractions, among other primary care procedures. School children from San Lucas and the surrounding area, approximately 5,000 to 10,000 students, are encouraged to visit the dental clinic at no charge to their families.

The clinic has a resident doctor and several full-time nurses who oversee an eye clinic, emergency room, delivery room, and three wards (women's, men's, and children's wards). More than a dozen doctors from the United States (Rhode Island, Minnesota and elsewhere) volunteer their time and expertise in San Lucas each year. Over 500 patients (for dental, eye or common illnesses) visited the clinic weekly in 2001.

More about the San Lucas Mission's connection to Minnesota

Copyright © 2003 Guatemalan Society of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
Page last updated on November 21, 2002