Monday, December 15, 2014


Tila, Chiapas en La Zona Norte

oday at mass I made the offertory intention, “Lord bring forth your justice and peace for the people of La Parroquia San Mateo, Chiapas Mexico; for the people of Ferguson, MO here in our country, and for women religious {a Vatican study of their U.S. “behavior” is released tomorrow} throughout the world.”  A long prayer interconnecting some of the important mentors of my personal faith.  Padre Heriberto and the catechists of his mountain comunidades.   My dad’s personal witness of integration as I was growing up in Jackson, MI, and the prophetic justice campaign of Martin Luther King I was privileged to be touched by.   All the strong compassionate religious women who have been my teachers in school, and compatriots working for peace.

At this point in my life, while I still can at 67, I’m deciding to return to Chiapas where I’ve been six other times over the years, working in a parish clinic and sharing a small part in their community’s struggles for justice.  They seek a path that preserves the goodness of their indigenous way of life, by overcoming the larger world’s imposed poverty.   For me this is a pilgrimage to their Nuestro Senor de Tila, miraculous shrine of the black crucified Christ, asking for help in addressing our own powerful nation’s need to learn humility, solidarity, and appropriate stewardship of resources with the rest of the world’s people.   My prayer will be for the Holy Spirit to stimulate increasing interest in travel and mission service.  I leave on January 9th, and invite your sponsorship [see below for address].

Padre Heriberto celebrates mass in the remote Carmela, a Zapatista community, in 2011 

Those who’ve had the blessing of time spent living in other cultures, learning their languages, making some miniature bridges between rich and poor, realize the wonderful, intrinsic, spiritual value of the experience.   There was more intention and investment in these efforts in the 60’s and 70’s.  As we beneficiaries age, I believe we need to pass the torch, and much more opportunity, to the next generation.

Many of our young people appear ready to learn and serve away from home to benefit others, and broaden their own perspective.   This is despite our society’s widespread advertised aversion to any risk.  There are certainly dangerous places for anyone now in the Middle East, Africa, the Ukraine.  And Mexico has become a diminished travel destination because of the drug violence there.  Yes, for them the narco-traffic/U.S. drug-market violence is terrible [yet rare in Chiapas], but if you know who to be with, and where to be, you are as safe as anywhere--and this is true worldwide.  While there's always risk just walking out your door, even here in the USA. 

 In the Dispensario Chol, Tila Chiapas, in 2002
Kennedy’s  invitation, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” still resonates.   It should be expanded into a brand new Peace Corps, and faith based groups like Jesuit Volunteer Corps, into not just “do for your country”, but do for planet earth.  Pope Francis has repeatedly called for real tangible solidarity with the poor.  He made it routine practice in Argentina for his all his priests to spend time ministering in the poorest of communities. 

In our parish, and with an interfaith group, we’ve had some discussion about creating a local/regional organization in which more, young and old, could support such service.  We believe we should able to help each other in the funding, researching, recruitment, and mentoring it would take to stimulate a renewed national faith commitment to nonviolent intercultural service, both home and abroad.   My trip can hopefully help seed this project.

Its only by such personal steps across cultural boundaries, and the grace of God, that we’ll all learn to beat back the blight of racism, and the many other –isms of division, and plant in their place—understanding.

Michael McCarthy PA-C

Faith Perspective on War and Peace
2714 Stone St., Port Huron, MI  48060
810 982 2870


Illumination by Kathy Brahney

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