Jim Harrington used an EES grant to engage and organize Austin’s eastside Hispanic community around preventing the closure of the neighborhood elementary school, Escuela Norman, and to identify leaders and establish a missional community following the Communidades de Base model from Latin American liberation theology. The missional community is Proyecto Santiago, out of St. James Episcopal Church in Austin, TX.
His work relative to the school has succeeded. A coalition of parents and neighborhood, political and church representatives was active and present at school board meetings. Extensive activities including reading buddies, a summer program, and back-to-school events for teachers and students have been held. Currently the school board plans to renovate Norman and keep it open.
His work to establish to establish and expand Proyecto Santiago has flourished. Leadership teams participated in the Diocese of Texas’ Lay Leaders Conference in 2018 and again in 2019. Parish retreats have focused on developing the missional community and expanding into outreach and activist efforts, both within the local community and to immigrant women incarcerated in the Hutto detention center in Taylor, TX. The sacramental and liturgical ministry continues to be strong, as measured by attendance, confirmations, receptions and First Communion celebrations. The community offers a monthly Eucharist at the Casa Marianella refugee center, and does Ashes to Go and a neighborhood Via Crucis for Good Friday.
Harrington continues to hope to establish house meetings, following the Communidades de Base model. However, the oppressive immigration enforcement presence in the community isolates community members and keeps many indoors. His ongoing work to connect with residents through door-to-door contact, community gatherings, and immigration rights workshops, supports the dream of establishing a house meeting network as part of the missional community.