At midnight, after a 10 hour drive, we arrived. For the last hours of the journey we drove in tropical rain on winding roads. Still, I was happy to arrive and grateful for my first visit to our parish in Taman in the State of San Luis Potosí, in Central Mexico. The Congregation of Holy Cross assumed responsibility for the parish about three years ago and Family Rosary mission teams have been visiting ever since. Father Marín Hernández, C.S.C., has encouraged us to send a team every month or two, making me more eager to go than ever.
San José parish is located in a rural mountainous region well known for its great coffee and outstanding natural beauty. Typical of hill country parishes, it has a great number of villages, some distant and hard to get to, presenting real pastoral challenges. In spite of great natural resources, the people, for the most part, are extremely poor. Fortunately, Father Marín and Father Paulino Antonio, C.S.C., who works with him, are from the state and know life there well. A big help is that Father Paulino grew up speaking Nahuatl, as did about half the parishioners.
Yet the greatest riches of the area are its people with their warmth and their faith. We were on a pretty short mission trip: just a few days, as the members of the team couldn´t take too much time away from work and family.
As we approached, I did so with respect and humility. I was arriving at a world that was new to me. I have a lot to learn about the culture! Moreover, the ever-present image of Our Lady of Guadalupe reminded me that these people have been privileged to receive one of the most powerful revelations of the Divine since Pentecost.
Great Christian Icons are the Word of God "written" as images. The Tilma enshrined in Mexico City is probably the greatest of Icons, as it is a gift from Our Lady herself which symbolically communicates the very Gospel for the Mexican people. Our Lady of Guadalupe remains as a beacon for our entire continent, full of the Light of Christ, calling us to faith NOW. As Mother of the New Creation she is a great witness to the whole world, pouring forth the Love of God for any and all who will accept it.
In the course of the mission, Father Marín and I spent the good part of a day visiting the sick. In peoples' homes I was privileged to experience a simple yet profound faith that has been passed on from generation to generation, particularly through devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is a faith that has been tried and proven true. Yet people and families are poor and uneducated. They long to learn, to grow and to be strengthened through that faith. At the same time it needs to be deepened, and in the world in which we live today, it needs to be renewed in the face of new challenges. Faith needs to be put into practice today.
This is what our mission in Family Rosary/Holy Cross Family Ministries is about: living out our faith in families. This is what the Mission of the Congregation of Holy Cross has always offered to the Church, and offers now in Mexico . Blessed Basil Moreau, Founder of Holy Cross, passed on to us a vision of education of the heart and the mind, of the whole person. As the "Educators in the Faith" that we call ourselves, Holy Cross has an important mission in Mexico.
Please pray that the Mexican roots of Holy Cross grow deeper and deeper. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!
Fr. Jim Phalan, C.S.C., is the Director of Family Rosary International, which is a part of Holy Cross Family Ministries. HCFM was founded by Servant of God Patrick Peyton, a Holy Cross priest who had a special devotion to the Blessed Mother and preached that the "family that prays together, stays together." Fr. Phalan will be writing for the Spes Unica Blog each month to share with us the great work of Family Rosary International, yet Family Ministries is one of the creative ways that Holy Cross continues to reach across borders of every sort to spread hope. Learn more about the missionary work of Holy Cross.