SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
The Dominican Republic can surely be called a Mormon success story.
Home to some 130,000 Latter-day Saints, this Caribbean island nation enjoys a relatively brief yet rich Church history — and a promising future of continued growth and influence.
The Church has functioned in many Latin American countries for almost a century or more. But missionaries did not begin laboring in the Dominican Republic — a country with a large population of people of African descent — until 1978 following a prophetic revelation that allowed the gospel to be delivered in full to all people of the world.
Over the past four decades, the Dominican Republic has become an LDS power in the Caribbean. There are almost 200 congregations and three missions in operation.
And for the past 17 years a temple within the borders of the country has blessed the Dominican members. In 2000, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo Temple.
A generation of youth here has grown up in the spiritual shadow of that towering edifice. Their commitment to the temple and all it represents was on public display recently when more than 1,000 young women, their mothers and their Young Women advisers marched in the annual, Church-sponsored “Walk of Virtue” in Santo Domingo.
Participants wore commemorative “Walk of Virtue” T-shirts and marched behind banners championing the values of the Young Women program: Faith. Divine Nature. Individual Worth. Knowledge. Choice and Accountability. Good Works. Integrity. Virtue.
Elder Julio Cesar Acosta, an Area Seventy, offered words of counsel and encouragement to the young women and their supporters, according to the Caribbean Area website.
“Be virtuous women and be proud of it,” he said.
The walk began at the capital city’s Avenida Luperon and continued along an 8-kilometer path that ended in front of the Santo Domingo temple.
“It’s our hope that this walk will strengthen our young people and help them always remember the [Young Women] values,” said Dominican Republic San Geronimo Stake President Luis Navarro on the website.
The marchers were joined in the walk by like-minded students from the Malaquias Gil Basic School and the Perantuen School, according to the site.
Meanwhile, in the Dominican city of Santiago, local Relief Society and priesthood leaders observed International Women’s Day by recognizing several Santiago women whose efforts have improved their community.
The March 5 event was held in a Santiago meetinghouse and included remarks from Elder Candido Fortuna, an Area Seventy, according to the country’s Church website.
Elder Fortuna spoke of the importance of following the Savior’s pattern of serving those around Him. “Touch [Christ’s] heart through your own actions and example in society,” he said.
The several women recognized at the event come from a variety of fields — including education, the media and social advocacy for women communities, according to the website. They were each presented with a framed image of Mary holding the Baby Jesus
“I am very grateful for this beautiful gesture by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to recognize the value of women,” said one of the recipients, Elsa Brito, an educator and writer.