Fr. Marin Hernandez Campos, C.S.C., the Pastor of San José Parish in Taman, San Luis Potosí, continues our week of exploring our missionary work in México by introducing us on the Spes Unica blog to the poor, rural parish where he serves. Holy Cross took pastoral responsibility for San José just over a year ago, making it the most recent expansion of our mission in México.
Let me tell you a little bit about what's going on in our parish, San José, here in Taman, México. First of all, I should start off by saying that the parish serves the small town of Taman in the rural mountains of central Mexico. Taman itself is home to around 10,000 people but our parish also serves 55 villages in the surrounding area.
Each village has its own chapel and celebrations, so that means that our associate pastor, Fr. Paulino Inés, C.S.C., and I make the rounds to each of these communities as often as we can, though some are more than an hour away traveling on treacherous mountain roads. We try to visit each community at least once a week, though some of the smaller and more distant ones may only have a priest come once a month.
Another interesting part of our parish is that many of our parishioners speak Nahuatl, an indigenous dialect which was actually the language of the Aztec Empire. This creates an interesting challenge for us, yet fortunately, Fr. Paulino grew up speaking Nahuatl and I'm learning as I go!
While our parish is extremely poor in terms of economic wealth, it is rich in its culture and traditions. As I said before, let me share some of our celebrations and the way we express our faith.
The month of November is a busy time for us. At the end of the month we have the annual "tlazcamatilice", which in Nahuatl means, "Thanks be to God for the harvest." Like "Thanksgiving" in the United States, our harvest festival is one in which we thank God for another good year and celebrate the bounty of His many gifts. The people here love to celebrate with music and dance, and of course, the Mass.
At the end of a Mass of thanksgiving, children bring ears of corn up to the altar in an elaborate ceremony. People make crosses out of the corncobs and children carry them and dance while others play traditional songs on the violin and the guitar. This dance of the harvest really serves as a metaphor for the praise we offer and the nourishment we receive from the Lord at Mass. After all the dancing, people are very hungry. We share plates of mole – a traditional chicken dish served with a spicy chocolate sauce. People stay up laughing and celebrating until dawn.
For the people of our little parish, faith is what centers their lives and helps them through the hard times and guides their celebrations in the good times. In fact, we mark the calendar by the feasts of the Church and each one has a unique expression.
I hope my description of the harvest festival gives you a glimpse of what we do here. For the people of our parish the harvest is a sign of hope when we give thanks to God for what He has done and trust that He will always provide for us.
As priests of Holy Cross, as men with hope to bring, we are happy to serve the people of Taman in this hopeful time and to always celebrate the love of God.