Episode 49: ¡Cuba Si! No more lines!

Today we have with us Pat Cage and Ana Arellano, both of the Friends of the Episcopal Church of Cuba. And today we’re going to learn about that grassroots organization. We held the interview in the Annand Room of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, in New Haven and Pat joined us by phone.

Patricia, or Pat, Cage, is from Saint Luke’s in Darien. She was one of the founders of Friends of the Episcopal Church of Cuba 2016 and serves as their executive director. Before that Pat served as director or president of several non-profits in Connecticut including Person to Person and A Better Chance. Pat has a degree in business marketing from Cal State University.

Ana Arellano is Cuban American and an active member of St. Peter’s, Cheshire. She is also an artist and a journalist, specializing in Latino news, photographer and freelance writer, webmaster and social media afficiado, and earlier, a bank vice president. Ana has a BA from Yale and lives in Cheshire. She’s been involved in Friends of the Episcopal Church in Cuba since its creation and oversees their Facebook page

Friends of the Episcopal Church of Cuba is a US-based volunteer organization working with Bishop Griseldo to help her and her team in Cuba. They have a website and Facebook page, friendsofeccuba.org.

We began with Pat telling us how she got involved in this, a story that started with her home parish of St. Luke’s, pursing possible mission partnership opportunities. She and her husband visited in 2016 with a group from the parish, and were hosted by Bishop Griselda of the Episcopal Church of Cuba. Bishop Griselda shared her vision with the group, and shared a small strategy document. That inspired Pat and her husband to offer their expertise in developing a larger strategy document and business plan that could be used to approach large philanthropic organizations, for example. They also learned the bishop wanted a U.S. based support organization, and that became the genesis of the Friend of the Episcopal Church in Cuba. The priorities come from Bishop Griselda and respect the Cuban Episcopalians’ creativity.

Ana then shared how she got involved in the organization. It was at an ECCT conference that she first heard about the opportunity for the mission trip to Cuba; prior to that she hadn’t thought much about reconnecting with her homeland.  

Karin asked what the priorities of the Friends are now, and Pat said that Bishop Griselda is focused first on providing food and water in many communities. People line at the Cathedral to get water, Pat said.

Alli asked about the number of parishes, and while Pat gave a number, Pat and Ana shared the impact of the Cuban revolution and its aftermath on churches. While the Episcopal Church in Cuba is relatively small, they both saw that in many of them, the first few rows are reserved for children.

Before we ended, Pat and Ana talked about the historic vote last year, 2018, by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church to readmit the Episcopal Church of Cuba into the full embrace of the Church, and the efforts by the Friends organization to generate support, and some of the committee meetings that led up to the vote. Ana talked about what it meant to her as a Cuban American Episcopalian.

Visit: https://www.friendsofeccuba.org/ for more information!

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