After 46 years, sister cities Erie and Mérida maintain a bond

The Mission of Friendship in Mérida is visited by students and the president of Gannon University in Erie, Pa., three years ago. Photo: Facebook
Erie, Pa., has counted Mérida as one of its sister cities since 1971. Photo: Getty

After 46 years, the Erie-Mérida sisterhood is “far from dormant.”

After establishing a sister-city connection in 1971, that bond continues between the Catholic Diocese of Erie, Pa., and the Archdiocese of the Yucatán, reports the Erie Reader.

The Mérida-Erie sister city relationship thrives through the charity and goodwill of The Mission of Friendship, a major social service and cultural exchange program established in 1971.

According to Erie diocesan mission director Indira Suarez, the Mission of Friendship has provided “care to thousands of underprivileged persons in Mérida, established hundreds of sponsor family relationships, fostered sister parish relationships between churches in northwestern Pennsylvania and the Yucatán Peninsula, and facilitated [the travels of] hundreds of Yucatecan visitors to Erie, and Erie visitors to the Yucatán” in the 45 years since its inception.

The Mission of Friendship in Mérida is visited by students and the president of Gannon University in Erie, Pa., three years ago. Photo: Facebook

An Erie councilman had declared the city’s connection to Mérida “dormant” for decades.

Since the seemingly tenuous state of affairs between Erie and its sister cities was documented in “Distant Relatives” (Vol. 7, No. 15), the newspaper has since heard otherwise.

Turns out that these sisters are not so far apart after all.

The Mission of Friendship’s ministries include the Amigos program, pairing Erie-area and Mérida-area families with the aim of establishing long-lasting bonds; a medical dispensary; the Amiguitos day care center; and Estancia Nueva Vida, which provides supervision, academic support and meals for school-aged girls.

Bishop Lawrence Persico and the Archbishop of Yucatán renewed the relationship between the dioceses last summer. A “Sister Parish Day,” held Aug. 12 at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Harborcreek, Pa., broached the topic of broadening and strengthening the connection in the future.

“Synergy and collaboration between communities? Amen to that,” says the Reader.

Read the whole story here.

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