Fr. Timothy Conlan, O.P.
Fr. Tim grew up in San Francisco, studied at U.C. Davis and S.F. State College, entered the Dominican Order in 1960, and was ordained in 1967. He began his pastoral ministry in 1970 in Seattle, followed by assignments in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Anchorage. In 1981 he began working as the "Director of Social Justice and Continuing Education" for the Western Dominican Province. After a sabbatical in Peru and Central America in 1986, he ministered for four years at our parish of Santa Maria de Guadalupe in Mexicali. In 1991-92 he served in Guatemala, in the city and surrounding villages of Rabinal. In 1998, he requested to return, and remains there to this day.
While in the U.S., Fr. Tim spent much of his ministry setting up liturgy-centered educational programs for families; welcoming programs for fallen-away Catholics; and social outreach programs for the poor and minorities. In Rabinal, besides his pastoral duties, he has worked tirelessly on engineering such projects as providing access to sanitized water, developing irrigation techniques via special latrines, and constructing adobe chapels. In recent years, though, he has concentrated on researching educational opportunities and providing scholarships for aspiring high school and college students from indigenous families, explaining with his characteristic passion, “Clearly education is the only way to bring about the economic, political, and social changes so desperately needed in this poor and violence-torn country, and I am blessed to be able, with the continued and generous support of our mission friends, to provide a small contribution toward that end.”
Fr. Tim took up mountain climbing the year he ministered in Berkeley, scaling some of the “easier high mountains” in the west, culminating with Mt. Denali (prev. Mt. McKinley) in Alaska, the highest mountain peak in North America. These efforts have aided him in the requisite hiking excursions to the twelve remote mountain communities of Maya Indians, living at about 6,000 feet, to bring them Mass and the sacraments. Early on, these visits taught him how entwined the villagers were to their indigenous roots and culture, and so he created a traveling course on reading the Bible in their native language of Achí. A decade later, with the help of volunteer translators, Father had completed and printed a thousand-page collection of Sunday scripture readings in Achí, and soon after that, an accompanying Achí-Spanish-English glossary/dictionary. Today, in every village, liturgies are being read in the native Achí. Indeed, as Fr. Tim puts it, “The Church must speak to people as they do to each other.” His current projects include bilingual (Spanish/Achí) books on the parables, complete with teacher editions.
Newsletters featuring Fr. Tim’s lyrical poetry are always eagerly awaited by our regular readers. His special gift helps him articulate his countless unforgettable experiences, both frustrating and inspiring, in the troubled country.
The poetry and prose of Fr. Tim's newsletters are abridged versions of longer missives he emails throughout the year to his personal donor list. If you or your friends would like to receive these more detailed letters, please send us the email addresses and we will forward them to him.