Here we are already in September, and it is hard to believe that I have been here in Mexico for just about three months already. I am in the midst of a pastoral year here in Monterrey, Mexico at a Holy Cross Parish: Nuestra Madre Santisima de La Luz ("Our Most Holy Mother of the Light" in English). I arrived in Mexico in May to begin a six-week language course in Guadalajara, and then I traveled to Monterrey in July to begin the year. Even though I was in the midst of summer, I was staying busy here with many activities. In July, I went on a mission trip with a group from the parish to a small town (named Taman) about 12 hours south of Monterrey. The people in this town live far away from a church and so do not get Mass often. The goal of this trip was to have Mass and Confession available to them every day we were there along with classes in religious education to learn more about the faith. It was a very powerful experience for me to meet these people and to enter into their simple, yet fulfilling, lifestyle.
Upon returning to Monterrey, I got started right away in the parish. As the year got underway, much of the work being done was preparatory work for the year ahead. The major job at hand was preparing for religious education classes. This is a huge endeavor in this parish. Parishes here in Monterrey are a little bit different than how they are in the US. The biggest difference is their size. There are 30,000 people registered in this parish and a lot of this number is kids. There are close to 30 classes of religious ed. a week here at La Luz and this requires a lot of organization. I have been involved in the registration of the kids and the preparation of the catechists. We had our first day of classes the first Saturday of September with lots of kids and lots of chaos (which I guess is to be expected with a lot of kids :), but all went very well. Throughout the year, I will be helping with the continued education of the catechists and parents. Education in the faith is very important here in the parish because the majority of the people here cannot afford Catholic schools. Consequently, many people do not receive a Catholic education and these classes at the parish are the only exposure they have to the tenets of the faith. I am excited for the opportunity to help out with this vast project and help people grow in their faith.
Besides staying busy in the parish, I have been settling in at the Holy Cross House of Formation with six postulants from different parts of Mexico. There is a vast variety of backgrounds, ages and experiences amongst this crew. There are two, Imanol and Kike, who are in high school and starting their time in formation, two others, Rodrigo and Abraham, who are beginning college, one, Reynaldo, who has graduated from college and is beginning his studies in philosophy, and one, Victor, who is preparing to go to the Novitiate in Peru in January. I have learned much of the history and culture of Mexico from these men (as well as how to speak Spanish better!). I am looking forward to living with them throughout this year and continuing to learn more about their backgrounds and way of life. All being said, the year is off to a great start, and I am excited to see what God has in store for me for the year ahead.
Mr. Ryan Pietrocarlo, C.S.C. is completing a pastoral year as a seminarian in the Congregation of Holy Cross. He and other seminarians post twice each month for the Spes Unica Blog. Ryan graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in biochemistry prior to joining the Holy Cross formation program. He is from East Rochester, New York.