Los Toros Azua, Dominican Republic - St. Joseph Grafton, Wisconsin USA
Mission Statement

“To live the Gospel by sharing our spiritual, cultural, and material resources in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Los Toros, empowering them to enhance their education, health, community development and spiritual growth".
Los Toros Scholarship Student Visits
Mission is a large part of the St. Joseph Parish philosophy. On August 26th, a living example of our Parish Mission outreach arrived to visit Los Toros Mission friends and members of St. Joseph Parish. Melissa Beltre, a beca (scholarship) student supported by your donations through the Beca Program, arrived to visit our parish. She had wanted to join the congregation at the 10:30 Mass, but missed her flight, arriving in late afternoon to stay with a parish family for two days. 
She is employed as a life guard at a water park in New Hampshire this summer through a fellowship for university students from foreign countries. To obtain acceptance in the program, applicants had to be registered in a university, provide their most recent  
transcripts and grades, speak good English and be able to pay their transportation to and from the US and Dominican Republic.  
Melissa spent this summer working at a New Hampshire water park to earn money for her part of the costs related to her studies. She worked two jobs, one as a lifeguard. /when she found Finding that not all meals were provided by the program, she also worked at a Mexican restaurant where she was provided a full meal each work day. at a water park and another at a restaurant. On her way back home, she was able to spend a couple of days in Grafton by receiving one day off and working two extra days. Melissa was thrilled to meet with several people her family had hosted in their home during mission trips over the years. She also visited with members of the Los Toros committees at a party hosted by one of them.  

Melissa Beltre with Dee Schlecht with whom she has corresponded since beginning high school. Dee encouraged her to learn English and she is now proficient.
Melissa was able to borrow transportation costs to the US from an uncle. He was amazed how quickly she repaid the loan when she began working. The fellowship provided a visa, partial payment of a university dorm room, meals and transportation to work. When university students occupied the dorm at the end and beginning of university classes, she had to provide her own meals and lodging, cutting into what little she was able to save for the return trip home. She solved this problem by working a second job in a Mexican restaurant that provided her with a free meal when she was working and taking a bag lunch home with her. With her wages, she was able to purchase a much-needed computer after her seven-year-old computer “died” three days after she arrived in the US.  

Melissa grew up with a river behind her house in Los Toros and feels comfortable in the water. She was the only applicant in her group who could swim. She obtained Life guard certification in the US after she arrived. She worked long hours at the park with few days off and interceded in many near drownings while on duty. 

On her first day in Grafton, she toured the St. Joseph campus and was impressed as she toured the parish facilities including the church, school, gym, library, and meeting rooms. Dee also took her on a driving tour of the area to see Lake Michigan, the Port Washington Harbor and areas around Grafton and Cedarburg.

Through a summer fellowship, Los Toros Beca student Melissa Beltre took the opportunity to come to the US and work as a lifeguard. She is enrolled at Universidad Autonoma Santo Domingo (UASD) in Santo Domingo, the capitol of the Dominican Republic. 

Career path - She has completed her pre-med studies and is now entered in the medical program where she plans to become a pediatrician. As a medical student, she carries a heavy credit load and handles it well. She has excellent study habits and often mentors other students when they need help. Melissa and a number of other students from Los Toros live in Casa San Jose, a condo just two blocks from the university. Through parishioner support, it is now owned mortgage free by the Los Toros Foundation. Mortgage free means more of the budget is spent on scholarships helping more students realize their educational dreams. 

Service in Los Toros – Through many years of study and practice, Melissa has learned excellent English skills and often acts as translator for participants in Los Toros Mission trips. 

Family Life – Melissa was raised by her grandmother, Soila. Her mother passed when she was very young. Many have stayed in her home during mission trips over the years. We have watched Melissa mature and have had the privilege of watching her develop into a strong, smart and graceful young woman.
Coming from a farming community in the Dominican Republic, she was especially enthused with the Farmer’s Market garden boxes on the perimeter of our parking lot and varieties of vegetables she had never seen or tasted. Tomatoes are her favorite and she quickly plucked one off the vine and had a snack. Kohlrabi was new to her and she took one home to share with her host family, Jennifer and Daniel Meehan and their children. 

This is just the beginning of Melissa’s adventure in Wisconsin. To prepare for Mission Sunday on September 29-30, we will share more pictures and “Wisconsin adventures through the eyes of a beca student” in this month’s bulletins. 


Padre Feliciano offers a blessing before the dinner
Melissa fills her plate with American & Dominican favorites
A large group of Los Toros missionaries and friends gathered for a special welcome dinner for Melissa at the home of parishioners Tom and Elaine Halladay. Guests included Miguel and Melany Mendez, their daughters, and Miguel’s brother Padre Feliciano who serves Dominicans in villages near Los Toros. Miguel was the first graduate of the Beca Program after the founding of the Los Toros Mission. He later came to the US and now lives in Milwaukee with his wife and family and has many relatives living in Los Toros. 

Both American and Dominican dishes were served at the pot luck dinner. Dominican stew and a Dominican soup made with squash were especially popular.  

This month, in preparation for Mission Sunday, we have been following adventures in Wisconsin through the eyes of Los Toros Mission Beca student Melissa Beltre. While here in Grafton, Melissa could sleep in—a real treat since her two summer jobs in New Hampshire meant long hours, early start times and five roommates to share her dorm unit!  

Melissa met with St. Joseph Los Toros Beca Committee members Rita Rutkowski Weber and Judy Wendtlandt. She updated them regarding her progress at Universidad Autonoma Santo Domingo (UASD). A large public university with 200,000 students, it is also rated highly in the degree programs it offers.
Melissa Beltre and Rita Rutkowski Weber discuss the start of her medical studies this fall. 

After Melissa completes her studies and internships, she will graduate and spend a year working in a clinic in an underserved area of the Dominican Republic. After that, she would like to go back to school to specialize in pediatrics. 

Another beca student, Yordanka DeLeon, graduated in medicine last year, and just completed her year serving the people in the clinic in Los Toros.
When Melissa returns to the university, she will arrange a SKYPE meeting of beca students with the St. Joseph’s Beca Committee. Every other month they keep open communication with the Beca Committee in Los Toros. Using SKYPE they discuss beca/scholarship matters and make joint decisions regarding the students and the program. 

Melissa shared the sad news of the loss of the younger sister of one of the Beca Program students to brain cancer. It is a difficult time for her family. Please remember them in your prayers as they grieve their loss. 

The level of education is improving over the yeas in Los Toros and things are getting better. Our parish mission has played a significant part in this. Schools in the Dominican Republic require elementary and high school studens to wear uniforms. In the past, the Los Toros Mission provided uniforms, shoes, and backpacks to those who couldn’t afford them. After the spring elections, with new faces in the government, a decision was made to provide five uniform shirts and two pants to each child in Los Toros. They also said they will supply computers for each child with software for teaching and work to complete at home. Lets pray that both happen. This would really improve education in the village.  

After Labor Day, Melissa heads back to school, family, and friends. Her summer in the US has been a wonderful experience for her. She is strong, smart and graceful with dreams and big plans for her life. Like most everyone you meet in Los Toros, she always wears a smile and is always upbeat. Her determination will carry her far in serving others and guaranteeing her success. May God bless her on her way!  

Mission Sunday is September 29 – 30. Thank you for your generosity!
The team of volunteers has returned from another successful Young and Adult Mission Experience, YAME. Tired and grateful for the many wonderful new experiences of sharing, serving, learning, and working together with our partners at our sister parish in the Dominican Republic, it is now time to rest and reflect on how the Holy Spirit is moving in our lives.  

Sincere thanks go out to all of you here in at St. Joseph Parish and beyond, for your prayers and your generosity that support this mission of collaboration in Christ across cultures.  

When you see any of the YAME team members, please ask us to share our experiences and what our participation in the mission has done for us.

Taken during this mission trip, this photo shows some of the recent graduates of the Beca Scholarship program that St. Joseph Parish members have been generously supporting over many years. For these students, the scholarship program is the only opportunity to help their families and community move out of poverty.
Kids in Los Toros give Deacon Don Kabara a Concert for his Birthday!
Deacon Don Kabara shared a “youtube video” of the concert some of the kids in Los Toros performed to celebrate his recent birthday. 

He wrote, “A few years ago Elizabeth Delorit and Caroline Atwell did a music program during our YAME Mission - it took time, but their efforts brought about an interest in music and this is what is happening in Los Toros now - for my birthday the students gave me a little concert! 
To see the kids and listen to the concert, visit:
A big “THANK YOU” to the St. Joseph Parish School Students, Child and Youth Ministry Students, Staff and Parents for the outstanding response to the “Free Dress for $2 Day” in the school, and the “Cash/Coins Collection” in the child and youth ministry classes for Los Toros Primary School Supplies. 

At total of just over $500 was collected to be used to purchase pencils, erasers, notebooks, construction paper, poster boards, tempera paints, pens, crayons, coloring books, writing and graph paper, Spanish story books and other supplies needed for the Los Toros Primary School. 

The students, teachers and staff in Los Toros are always so grateful and appreciative of the love and support of their brothers and sisters in Christ at St. Joseph Parish! 

Many thanks and God bless you! 
Muchas gracias y Dios les bendiga! 

Los Toros Mission 
Schools Sub-Committee