Monday, February 9, 2015


Padre Heriberto prepares for the Youth Procession
Young people of San Mateo parish process around the church--one of about 20 processions through the town in the Eight days of  Fiesta

One of my purposes in traveling to the mountains of Chiapas was to see if prayer and renewed contact with the people of San Mateo parish there, could inspire efforts back here in Michigan to help our young people find mission service work.   I was surprised to learn when I arrived, that the young adult group of this remote parish in southern Mexico was right then doing a 2 week service project at a center, 3 hours away, for Central American immigrants & refugees.  Twenty five of them were doing chores and befriending between 100 – 200 of them at a large welcome center run by nuns in Palenque, one of the railroad stops, for those that hop the trains and ride atop them, looking to flee the violence in their own countries.   Mexico with all its problems is still a safety valve for them, and yes, many are headed further north to the U.S. and Canadian borders.

How remarkable with all the dissonance in Port Huron and many U.S. cities created this past year by the “threat” of illegal immigrants including children, that these Mexican youth had taken it upon themselves {with the limited resources of life in Tila, Chiapas} to lend a hand to those less fortunate than themselves.
Central American migrants stand on top of train cars while waiting for the freight train La Bestia, or the Beast, to travel north through Mexico to the U.S. border in January 2012--Jorge Luis Plata-Reuters

Young people down there are putting their faith in action.  Our young adults and older, working together to build new opportunities for international and national service, can certainly do the same.  The harvest is great, but the laborers are few.  There are plenty in the pool of potential laborers, but they’ve yet to be gainfully invited into the work of Gospel nonviolence.   Instead we’ve had a post 911 burst of military recruiting, training in lethal violence, and no end of violence in sight.

Lord, teach us to pray, and to work for peace.  If we begin to look around in the world, making direct personal contact, we will see many, many good examples.

Catechism class leads procession--their banner a plea for justice for assassinated students, and immigrants, an end to violence in all of Mexico

There are opportunities now awaiting -- The hope is to greatly expand, for Catholic youth and all young people -- a new evangelization, of service.


For an in depth review of the refugee-immigration problem, which mentions the Palenque situation towards the end, see

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