(Editor’s note: This reflection is part two of a two-part series from Msgr. Michael Flannery on his trip to the Saltillo Mission this fall. Part one ran in the Oct. 28 digital edition of Mississippi Catholic.)
By Msgr. Michael Flannery
SALTILLO, Mex. – During my visit to the Saltillo Mission at the end of September, I had the pleasure of celebrating Mass at St. William Church. There was a lady there that something told me I knew her from some place.
We started a conversation and I asked her where she was from originally. She said Santa Rosa. I asked her when she was born, and she said in 1972. I asked her where she was baptized, and she said in Santa Rosa.
I happened to be the priest that baptized her. I had not seen her in 50 years. It was like a reunion to get to know her again after all this time.
A new phenomenon in Saltillo is the building of columbaria at parish churches for the reception of the ashes of deceased parishioners. That has come in response to the growing practice of cremation in Mexico. Prices vary from $600 to $1,000. It has become very popular.
A big thrust in the ministry of the Saltillo Mission is the service to the mountain villages. I accompanied Father David the last Saturday of my visit to the mountain villages. Our first stop was Gomez Nueva where we had a wedding and five First Holy Communions. After a reception we moved on to La Brecha (the gap), which is a church that was dedicated three years ago by Bishop Raul Vera Lopez, Bishop Emeritus of Saltillo, in the presence of Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Bishop Louis Kihneman.
In La Brecha we had a quince años, (the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday). During the celebration of the Mass, the 15-year-old girl renews her baptismal promises and recommits herself to serving the Lord.
From there we journeyed on to another village, El Rancho Pequeño, for another quince años celebration. Then we returned to Saltillo where Father David had a baptism. One thing is for sure, the pastor is never short of work at San Miguel.
On left, a First Communion celebration at Gomez Nueva. On right, a quince años at La Brecha. “Padre” Flannery made a trip to visit the Saltillo Mission and the end of September. (Photos courtesy of Msgr. Michael Flannery)
The following prayer will be recited at all Masses in San Miguel for the whole jubilee year.
We bless the Most Holy Trinity in your Holy Archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Rafael. You have selected and called this portion of God’s people, of the Diocese of Saltillo, to form the Parish of San Miguel. We give you thanks for this jubilee year, coming together these 25 years.
You have given us an esteemed and faithful ministry in our bishops and priests, who with their lives and testimony guide your flock in the pastoral presence of Father Quinn and in all the generous priests committed in the pastoral ministry and in a laity committed to the synodal project. We ask that your Son Jesus Christ be for us, a road to journey toward you, the Truth which illuminates our hearts to the gate through which we are admitted to your kingdom.
Our God, who has given us San Miguel as our patron, give us the strength and the character to walk, being the light in the darkness of a culture of death, and in the company of Our Mother and Queen, the Most Holy Virgin, Mary of Guadalupe. Preserve us with strength as true disciples of Christ the Redeemer who lives and reigns with the Holy Spirit forever and ever, Amen.
Father David Martinez gave a homily on the Feast of San Miguel, on Sept. 29, 2022, touching on the jubilee year and the aid given by the Diocese of Jackson:
“In this Eucharist on Sept. 29 we give thanks to God because he has permitted our Bishop Hilario Gonzalez Garcia, to proclaim a jubilee year to celebrate the twenty-five years since the erection of the parish of San Miguel.
“Today, full of joy, we have present with us, Msgr. Michael Flannery, who 25 years ago was an essential witness to the transaction of the separation of San Miguel from the parish of Perpetual Help and it is now a parish in its own right and the center of the ranchos which were once a part of the mission of Father Quinn.
“Bishop Francisco Villalobos of happy memory, was the one who named the community of San Miguel as a parish. Present at the Mass were Bishop Francisco Villalobos, Bishop of Saltillo, Bishop William Houck, Bishop of Jackson, Frs. Raul Ramos, Carlos Davila Fuentes, VG., Lazaro Hernandez, Placido Castro Zamora, Msgr. Michael Flannery, Vicar General of the Diocese of Jackson, and Msgr. Michael Thornton who was named the first pastor of San Miguel.
“In this celebration today, on the solemnity of San Miguel, offering to God as we progress throughout the year, that on the 29th of each month, we will come together as brothers and sisters with other parishes, living different historic semblances of our experiences, in all of the rural communities, such as the chapels attached to the parish.
“By celebrating the Eucharist and the accompanying Holy Hour, we have received from our Bishop a partial indulgence. We have the privilege of offering to God, the pastoral experience of Deacon Adam Frey, who was sent here by his Bishop Louis Kihneman of the Diocese of Biloxi, to experience and share in the mission of Father Quinn. It is our desire that sharing this experience as a legate of his diocese, that it will be part of the history of our parish and its 25 years. …
“Remembering the words of Jesus: ‘You will see much greater things than the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’ Because in these things is found the cross and the priest of Christ continues to ascend and descend the slopes in this parish of San Miguel following in the footsteps of Father Quinn, walking with joy, with the cross of the ranchos and in the company of our brothers and sisters who are poorer and more vulnerable and to whom we announce to them that the reign of God has come.
“We end by saying that we ask of God that on Sept. 29, 2023 we can meet with our brothers and sisters of the Dioceses of Jackson and Biloxi, who have been part of our history. We thank God for all his blessings and his Mother Most Holy, the Virgin Mary for all of her maternal protection in our journey of faith.”