La misión en Saltillo continúa creciendo

Obispo Joseph Kopacz

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
Una amplitud y profundidad de liturgias y fiestas marcaron los cuatro días de mi cuarta visita pastoral a la Misión San Miguel en Saltillo y a sus ranchos en lo alto del desierto con Mons. Mike Flannery. Era el fin de semana del domingo de la Divina Misericordia dentro de la octava de Pascua, un tiempo en que la Iglesia universal está alegremente encontrando al Señor crucificado y resucitado en la efusión de su amorosa compasión. Poco después de haber llegado el jueves por la tarde, celebré la Santa misa en la iglesia de la Divina Misericordia, la cual está funcionando desde su consagración hace dos años. La Novena de la Divina Misericordia, que comienza el viernes Santo, se observa durante toda la octava de Pascua, una semana que hace realidad lo que fue prometido durante la conmemoración de la Semana Santa con el Triduo Sacro. En efecto, nuestro Señor crucificado ha resucitado verdaderamente y su misericordia es eterna. Esta esperanza viva fue evidente en la devoción de los fieles, antes, durante y después de la misa, proporcionando un buen comienzo para la visita pastoral.
El maratón comenzó el viernes con nuestra partida a los ranchos a las 7 de la mañana. La primera de tres Misas de confirmación de ese día tuvo lugar en la Iglesia San Francisco a las 9 a.m. Fue alentador ver a los jóvenes con sus padres y padrinos en la iglesia vistiendo su atuendo formal, despiertos y deseosos de celebrar la confirmación. En la fiesta había una abundancia de comidas recién preparadas y sopa.
De allí salimos hacia el escabroso paisaje del desierto a visitar a las familias de cinco ranchos más para celebrar dos misas de confirmaciones y tres servicios cortos de oración. Como es costumbre, cuando la camioneta se acerca a cada rancho (comunidad) el conductor comienza a tocar la corneta por unos buenos cinco minutos para alertar a la gente que los misioneros han llegado. Al llegar a la iglesia tocan las campanas para dar la bienvenida a cualquier persona que no haya escuchado la corneta para reunirse para orar. Es estimulante el acompañar a estos dedicados sacerdotes, a los catequistas, a los choferes y a los jóvenes que trabajan en los diversos ministerios litúrgicos: servidores del altar, coro, lectores y sacristanes que viajan hacia los márgenes de la diócesis de Saltillo unas pocas veces cada semana. Esto no es una novedad para ellos.
Un día completo de viaje en el alto desierto del estado de Coahuila es una fascinante experiencia que penetra los huesos y la médula ósea. Aquí es donde los caminos no son caminos, sino apenas tramos navegables sobre largos senderos. Pero el paisaje del alto desierto es fascinante y cambiante. En algunas extensiones hay arbustos y cactus cuyas flores en abril ablandan sus defensas espinosas. Una especie de cactus luce un tono rojo que es encantador. Después de un tiempo el paisaje cambia y aparecen grandes árboles de palma con configuraciones creativas que en las sombras del anochecer o amanecer la imaginación podría ver fácilmente contorsiones amenazantes o entretenidas caricaturas. A veces en senderos estrechos uno puede ver en lo alto cordilleras sobresalientes o mirar hacia abajo y ver un terrorífico precipicio en cañón. Siempre había polvo, avivado por el constante trote de los neumáticos sobre superficies rocosas que no favorecieron la lectura o una siesta.
Sin embargo, con la misión siempre delante de nosotros, todo mereció la pena o, como uno dice en español, vale la pena. La prueba de resistencia del viernes terminó a las 8:30 p.m. en El Cuervo, un hotel de cacería situado en 10,000 acres de tierra, que es el hogar de una gran variedad de vida salvaje del desierto donde los cazadores vienen de todo México para probar sus habilidades en el desierto. Es realmente un hotel muy confortable, donde hemos sido tratados excepcionalmente bien por los propietarios durante los últimos tres años.
Dejamos El Cuervo bien temprano el sábado cuando estaba amaneciendo sobre el desierto para un recorrido de dos horas a la Capilla del Ejido la Brecha. Con el Obispo Raúl Vera, el Ordinario de Satillo, acompañándonos para celebrar la misa, bendecimos y colocamos la primera piedra, el primer paso para una nueva iglesia en el sitio. Nombrada por San José, modelo de los esposos, la fecha escogida para la consagración es el 1 de mayo de 2019, día de la fiesta de San José. Después de otra fiesta nos dirigimos a la Presa de San Pedro donde celebramos la confirmación con 24 candidatos, el mayor número en este año en curso. Al llegar a Saltillo por la tarde el Padre Mike y yo, junto con el Padre David y el Padre Evelio, dedicados sacerdotes de la Misión de San Miguel, tuvimos una agradable cena con el Obispo Raúl Vera.
En la mañana del domingo, la fiesta de la Divina Misericordia, nos quedamos en casa, por así decirlo, y celebramos dos misas festivas para este día de la Pascua de la misericordia. El agua fluyó en nuestra misa de las 9 a.m. con la renovación de las promesas bautismales, seguida del bautismo de siete niños después de la homilía. La celebración de la última confirmación enriqueció notablemente la misa de la 1 de la tarde, y el Obispo Vera, predicó y concelebró. Su profética homilía no será olvidada pronto por todos los asistentes, un apasionado llamado a ungir nuestras sociedades con el aceite mayor de justicia y paz. Descansado ahora y volviendo a pensar en inglés, recuerdo las últimas palabras del Evangelio de San Juan para el Domingo de la Divina Misericordia. “Estos signos de Jesús son grabados para que creáis que Jesús es el Mesías, el hijo de Dios, a fin de que creyendo, tengáis vida en su nombre.” La vida en su nombre abunda en la misión de Saltillo y nosotros, los fieles de Jackson y Biloxi, somos una parte importante de este camino de fe. Gracias a Dios.
Mañana es un día de descanso antes de viajar a Aguascalientes para la ordenación al diaconato de Adolfo Suárez-Pasillas en su parroquia natal. Un agradable cansancio se ha asentado en mí.

Saltillo mission continues to expand

Bishop Joseph Kopacz

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
A breadth and depth of liturgies and fiestas marked the four days of my fourth pastoral visit to the Saltillo Mission of San Miguel and its high desert ranchos with Msgr. Mike Flannery. It was Divine Mercy weekend within the Octave of Easter, a time when the universal Church is joyfully encountering the crucified and risen Lord in the outpouring of his loving compassion. Shortly after arriving on Thursday, I celebrated Mass in the church of Divina Misericordia, functioning now for two full years since its consecration. The Novena to Divine Mercy which begins on Good Friday, is observed throughout the Octave of Easter, a week that brings to fruition that which was promised throughout the Holy Week commemoration with the Sacred Triduum. Indeed, our crucified Lord is truly risen and his mercy endures forever. This living hope was apparent in the devotion of the faithful before, during and after Mass, providing a fitting start to the pastoral visit.
The marathon began on Friday with our departure to the ranchos at 7 a.m. Our first of three Confirmation Masses that day took place at the Church of San Francisco at 9 a.m. It was inspiring to see los jovenes, (the young people), with their padres and padrinos in formal church attire awake and eager to celebrate Confirmation. The fiesta afterwards teemed with an abundance of freshly made foods and soup. From there we set out for the rugged desert landscape to visit the families of five more ranchos to celebrate two more Confirmation Masses, as well as three shorter prayer services. As is the custom, when the van approached each rancho the driver would lay on the horn for a good five minutes to alert the people that the missionaries have arrived. Upon driving up to the church the bells are then rung to welcome anyone who may have missed the vehicle’s call to gather for prayer.
It is stirring to accompany these dedicated priests, catechists, drivers and young people who serve in various liturgical ministries: altar servers, chorus, readers and sacristans who travel to the margins of the Saltillo Diocese a few times each week. This is not a novelty for them.
A full day of riding in the high desert of the state of Coahuila is a riveting experience that penetrates bone and marrow. This is where roads are not roads but scarcely navigable trails over long stretches. But the high desert landscape is captivating and ever-changing. For some tracts it is shrubbery and cactus plants whose April blossoms soften their thorny defenses. One species of cactus plant sports a red hue that is enchanting. After a time, the landscape shifts to large palm-like trees sporting creative configurations that in the shadows of dusk or dawn one’s imagination could easily see threatening contortions or entertaining caricatures. At times on narrow passes one could look up at jutting ranges or look below at a scary drop-off into a canyon.
Always there was dust, stirred up by the constant drum beat of tires upon rutted surfaces that did not favor reading or napping. However, with the mission always before us, it was all worth it, or as one says in Spanish, vale la pena. Our Friday test of endurance ended at 8:30 p.m. at El Cuervo, a Hunting Lodge on 10,000 acres of land, that is home to a variety of desert wildlife to where hunters come from all over Mexico to test their skills in the wilderness. It’s actually a very comfortable lodge where we have been treated exceptionally well by the owners over the past three years.
We left El Cuervo bright and early on Saturday as dawn was breaking over the desert for a two-hour ride to La Capilla del Ejido la Brecha. With Bishop Raul Vera, the Ordinary of Saltillo, on hand to celebrate the Mass we blessed and placed La Primera Piedra, the first stone, the first step to a new church on the site. Named for San Jose, Modelo de los Esposos (Saint Joseph, model for married men) the target date for the consecration is May 1, 2019, the feast of Saint Joseph.
Following another fiesta, we drove on to Presa San Pedro where we celebrated Confirmation with 24 candidates, the largest number on this year’s circuit.
Arriving back in Saltillo by late afternoon Father Mike and I, along with Padre David and Padre Evelio, the dedicated priests of the San Miguel Mission, had a leisurely dinner with Bishop Raul Vera.
On Sunday morning, the feast of Divine Mercy, we stayed at home so to speak and celebrated two festive Masses for this Easter day of Mercy. The water flowed at our 9 a.m. Mass with the renewal of our Baptismal promises, followed by the Baptism of seven children after the homily. The final celebration of Confirmation greatly enriched the 1 p.m. Mass at which Bishop Vera preached and concelebrated. His prophetic homily will not soon be forgotten by all in attendance, a passionate plea to anoint our societies with the oil of greater justice and peace.
Unwinding now and back to thinking in English I recall the final words of the Gospel of John for Divine Mercy Sunday. “These signs of Jesus are recorded in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, so that believing, you may have life in his name.” Life in his name abounds in the Saltillo Mission and we, the faithful of Jackson and Biloxi, are an important part of this journey of faith. Gracias a Dios.
Tomorrow is a day of rest before traveling to Aguascalientes for the Diaconate ordination of Adolfo Suárez -Pasillas in his home parish. A pleasant tiredness has settled in.

Advent a season of traditions, treasures at Saltillo Mission

By Msgr. Michael Flannery
MADISON – The months of November and December are exceptionally busy months at the Saltillo Mission. Mexican people have a great devotion to their deceased brothers and sisters. Mass is celebrated at the cemetery and each of the graves are blessed in turn by the priest.
People bring the favorite food of their loved ones and have a picnic at the cemetery and actually leave some food on the graves of their loved ones on all Souls Day, November 2. They adorn the graves with flowers. That same day begins a 40-day novena in in preparation for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12, with the recitation of the rosary in each home with the whole family gathered around.

SALTILLO, Mexico – A priest from Saltillo, Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Msgr. Michael Flannery celebrate a Mass at the Mexican mission in April, 2017. An image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is visible in the background. (Photo courtesy Msgr. Michael Flannery)

For the celebration of the feast, all churches remain open starting at midnight. Various choirs, Mariachi bands and different groups go from church to church singing “Las Mañitas – a birthday song to Mary. The tradition is to begin with the local parish church and go from parish to parish and end up with a visit to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Every major city has a special shrine or sanctuary in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Following quickly on the heels of that feast is the celebration of Las Posadas beginning on December 16th. A posada is the Spanish word for “inn”. There is a long-standing tradition that it took Mary and Joseph nine days to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem and each night they would request to stay at an inn. Usually, nine families pre-arrange to meet at nine homes and recite a para-liturgy and rosary commemorating the event. A meal is shared at the home of the host family for that particular evening.
When Christmas comes, the emphasis is on midnight Mass. The bells ring out in all the churches. Most families attend midnight Mass and then go from home to home in the neighborhood to celebrate Christmas. On Christmas day they usually sleep late after partying all night long. Most families will have a nativity scene in their homes. The custom is to leave that nativity scene there until March 19, which is the feast of St. Joseph.
It is against the law to cut trees in Mexico because of the limited supply of harvestable wood. Therefore, most homes have artificial Christmas trees. Christmas lights will adorn the tree and the Christmas presents are placed beneath. However, the sharing or distribution of Christmas gifts does not take place until the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6.
Tradition has it that the Magi took some time in following the star until eventually they arrived in Bethlehem. Between Christmas and Epiphany, each evening the children come to the parish church and participate in a para-liturgy and are given candy in anticipation of the arrival of the wise men. The Christmas presents are then distributed in each home with the celebration of Epiphany. These two months are full of prayer, activities and devotions.
(Msgr. Michael Flannery is a retired priest of the Diocese of Jackson. He served in Saltillo and this year wrote a history of the mission, once staffed by this diocese. Msgr. Flannery lives in Madison.)

Saltillo book selling quickly

JACKSON – Msgr. Michael Flannery sells a copy of his book “Saltillo Mission,” outside St. Richard Parish on Sunday, Oct. 8. Msgr. Flannery is touring parishes to speak about the book detailing the history of the Mexican mission under the care of the diocese for many years. Copies are available at the Carmelite gift shop. (Photo by Maureen Smith)

 

History of Saltillo mission focus of new book

(Editor’s note: Msgr. Michael Flannery has penned a book, “Saltillo Mission,” detailing the history of collaboration between the Diocese of Jackson and the missions in Saltillo, Mexico. Proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit Madison St. Anthony school. Father Michael O’Brien offers the following review.)
By Father Michael O’Brien

The cover of Msgr. Michael Flannery’s book features Perpetual Help Church, the main parish for more than 30 years. While the Diocese of Jackson no longer sends pastors or youth groups to the missions, the church in Mississippi still takes up a collection and Bishop Joseph Kopacz has visited several times.

Inspired by the Second Vatican Council and the call for the “first world” to reach out to the “third world” and share their resources, Father Patrick Quinn was selected by then Bishop Joseph Brunini to open a mission for the diocese of Natchez-Jackson in Saltillo, Mexico. Msgr. Mike Flannery’s book chronicles the history of this mission since its inception in 1969 to the present day (2017). As a young priest Father Flannery spent three wonderful years (1971-1974) working with Father Quinn at the mission. His book captures the excitement, challenges, faith and creative spirit of this great mission and particularly the charisma and vision of Father Patrick Quinn. The mission in Saltillo was, in my opinion, the most significant and inspiring program ever undertaken by the Catholic community in Mississippi.
Father Patrick Quinn was truly an amazing priest. He made everyone feel special and loved. He particularly loved the poor. He loved America and especially Mississippi. He loved his native Ireland, but he laid down his life every day for the people of Saltillo, Mexico. He served as pastor of four churches in the city and approximately 50 mission churches in the surrounding mountain villages. He built 2,250 cinder block homes for poor families. He established the “Saltillo Summer Program” where high school and college youth from Mississippi and beyond were invited to spend a week at the mission. More than 20,000 youth participated in this program over a 40-year period. It was a life-changing experience for most of them as they experienced poverty, faith and the rich Mexican culture.
The mission inspired many vocations, both in Saltillo and at home in America. Father Serio Balderas from Saltillo is serving as pastor of St. Elizabeth parish in Ocean Springs. Father Quinn’s ministry continues through him in Mississippi. Many young priests from our diocese served with Father Quinn in Saltillo. They learned to speak Spanish and it has laid the foundation for our present outreach ministry to the Hispanic community in Mississippi.
Two years ago, a reporter from Saltillo, Jesus Salas Cortes wrote a book on the life of Father Quinn. Father Flannery’s book builds on this and compliments it nicely. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Father Quinn and 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the mission. Writing this book “Saltillo Mission” is a wonderful way to celebrate these occasions.
Finally, a personal story. I was at home in Ireland one summer about 30 years ago. I stopped at Father Quinn’s home in Ballaghlea, Co. Galway. Father Quinn was at the table working. I asked him later what he was doing. He told me he was writing Christmas cards (in July) to all the supporters of his mission in Saltillo. Even on his vacation in Ireland, when he should be visiting with family or playing golf, he was thinking about his poor parishioners at his mission in Mexico!
This book is filled with inspiring stories, life-changing stories, faith stories, and stories told by many of the priests and lay people who visited and worked at the mission in Saltillo, Mexico.
The book is available at the chancery office on Amite Street in Jackson, Madison St. Francis of Assisi Parish, the Carmelite Monastery gift shop on Terry Road in Jackson and Downtown Marketplace, Main Street, Yazoo City.
Father Flannery is also planning to bring the book to the Diocese of Bioxi later in the fall to offer at several parishes and the chancery office there. The cost is $15 plus shipping.
(Father Michael O’Brien is the pastor of Canton Sacred Heart Parish.)

Bishop Kopacz makes pilgrimage to Saltillo

By Monsignor Michael Flannery

MADISON – There is a Spanish phrase “que pasa?” (what’s happening?). In a way, it sums up the pastoral visit Bishop Joseph Kopacz and I made to the Saltillo Mission March 30 -April 3.

We can report that the good work begun by Father Patrick Quinn in 1969 is flourishing south of the border. There are two Mexican priests serving at the mission, Fathers David and Elevio. Both have a profound missionary spirit and they follow in the footsteps of Father Quinn.

We flew into Monterrey, Mexico, on Thursday, March 30. Father David was there to greet us and bring us to the mission about two hours away. He had a full schedule prepared for us. Our first visit was to the church of Cristo Rey (in the city of Saltillo) at 6:00 p.m. It is one of four churches in town served by San Miguel. The other three are; the Holy Martyrs, St. William and Christ the King. We visited other churches in the city the next day.

Saturday we set out for the village Jalapa where the villagers gathered to greet the Bishop from Mississippi. After a prayer service with the rancheros and the distribution of bags of cornmeal we set out for the village of Animas where we shared another meal with the villagers. At 2:00 p.m. we were on the road again to our most distant village of El Tapon, five hours away. There we greeted the people and Bishop Kopacz was asked to bless the seeds of corn and pinto beans to be used for sowing. Also, he was asked to bless the two goat herds. Many coyotes attack and kill the young kid goats and the blessing of the bishop was to provide protection.

After the blessing, Bishop Kopacz was offered a kid goat as a gift. I explained to the kind lady making the offer we would only be in the country five days and were forbidden to bring a goat back with us to the U.S. Instead she offered Bishop Kopacz a package of tortillas which he graciously accepted.

The next morning we went to the village of Garambullo, where we were greeted by a presentation of Aztec dancing before Mass. Father David showed us the new tin roof he had put on the church. Many of the churches in the mountain villages are in bad need of repair. An average roof on a mountain village church costs about $3,000. I had brought a suitcase full of T-shirts, a gift from Madison St. Anthony School. It was amazing to see the joy in these childrens faces as they received them. I also had brought with me 500 ball-point pens which I selectively distributed to other children telling them the pen was a gift of Bishop Kopacz.

When we arrived at La Ventura about 500 villagers were completing a live way of the cross. It was a very moving site. Because of their Mexican heritage and culture, the people relate very well to the suffering Christ. Bishop Kopacz was again front and center celebrating Mass and administering the sacrament of Confirmation.

After Mass, we had a delicious lunch with the villagers. Father David showed Bishop Kopacz a building attached to the church, consisting of two rooms, where it would be possible to house catechists who spend weekends training village catechists and performing missions throughout the year. He had plans to add another floor to the existing two rooms as La Ventura was a central village from where 6 other villages could be served.

It was now time to head back to Saltillo for dinner with the Bishop of Saltillo Don Raul Vera. Bishop Vera was very gracious and Bishop Kopacz shared with him his Pastoral Priorities and Vision for the Diocese of Jackson. The following morning, we shared a light breakfast with Father David and Father Evelio. Both priests are great visionaries and are addressing the needs of the people. Another example of their thinking outside the box, is a project now in its infancy.

San Miguel has become home to four students coming from mountain villages who cannot afford room and board while studying at the university. In exchange for room and board they accompany the priests during the weekend in their ministry in the ranchos. This project costs approximately $2,500 per student, however, that is where the church needs to be offering its services to those in need and changing the lives of people for the better.

Another worthy program at San Miguel is the catechetical program. Young catechists are brought in from remote villages to stay at San Miguel for a week or two during the summer. The rancheros are very moved by this experience. For the first time in their lives they have meals served to them by someone else. Also, they have the experience of taking a shower. That is not an option in the ranchos. It is a different world there at San Miguel.

I would like to end with one quick story. There was one four-year-old girl in Saltillo who got my last St. Anthony T-shirt. She was so excited with her new found treasure she would not take it off. The T-shirt would have fit a child of 12. It was so long it came down to her ankles. Her mother told me later that she would not take it off even to go to bed and she used it as her night gown. I also gave her the St. Anthony golf cap I was wearing. She even wore it to bed she was so overcome with joy with her gift. I can assure you that the people of Saltillo are most appreciative of all that Mississippians do for them and they wanted us to express their gratitude to you.

(Editor’s note: Msgr. Flannery is working on a book detailing the history of the Saltillo mission. a longer version of this story with details of all the rancho visits is available online at www.mississippicatholic.com)

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Saltillo, Mexico 2017

Visita pastoral del Obispo Kopacz a la Misión de Saltillo

Por el Monseñor Michael Flannery

La frase “¿Qué pasa?” resume la visita pastoral que el Obispo Joseph Kopacz y yo hicimos a la Misión de Saltillo, México el 30 de marzo al 3 de abril. Podemos informar que el buen trabajo iniciado por el padre Patrick Quinn en 1969 está floreciendo. Los dos sacerdotes mexicanos que sirven en la misión, padres Davíd y Elevio, tienen espíritus misioneros profundos y están siguiendo los pasos del Padre Quinn.
El padre David, armado con un horario completo, nos saludó en Monterrey y nos llevó a la misión de Saltillo. Nuestra primera visita fue a la iglesia de Cristo Rey, una de las iglesias en la ciudad servida por San Miguel. Visitamos los otros, Los Santos Mártires y San Guillermo, al día siguiente.

El sábado, viajamos a Jalapa, donde los aldeanos se reunieron para saludar al obispo. Después de un servicio de oración con los rancheros y la distribución de bolsas de harina de maíz, fuimos al pueblo de Animas, donde compartimos otra comida con los aldeanos. Esa tarde, viajamos en coche durante cinco horas hasta el pueblo más lejano, El Tapón. Allí se le pidió al obispo Kopacz que bendijera las semillas de maíz y frijoles pintos que se utilizarían para la siembra. También se le pidió que brindara protección bendeciendo a dos rebaños de cabras. Después de la bendición, Obispo Kopacz se le ofreció un cabrito como un regalo. Le expliqué a la señora amable que hacía la oferta que estaríamos solamente en el país cinco días y es prohibido traer cabras a los Estados Unidos. En vez, ella ofreció al obispo un
paquete de tortillas que aceptó graciosamente.
A la mañana siguiente, con una maleta llena de camisetas del colegio de St. Anthony y 500 bolígrafos del obispo, visitamos el pueblo de Garambullo, donde fuimos recibidos con una presentación de danzas aztecas antes de la misa. El padre David nos mostró el nuevo techo que había puesto en la iglesia. Muchas iglesias en los pueblos están en necesidad de reparación y un techo cuesta unos $3,000.
Cuando llegamos a La Ventura, cerca de 500 aldeanos estaban completando el vio crucis. Por su herencia y cultura, el pueblo mexicano se relaciona muy bien con el Cristo sufriente. El Obispo Kopacz estaba de nuevo frente y centro celebrando la misa y administrando el sacramento de la Confirmación. Después, tuvimos un almuerzo delicioso con los aldeanos. El padre Davíd nos mostró un edificio que consta de dos habitaciones donde los catequistas se quendan para que puedan formar catequistas de la aldea y realizar misiones durante todo el año. Él planea agregar otro piso al edificio, ya que La Ventura es una ubicación central desde donde se sirven otras seis aldeas.
Volviendo a Saltillo, disfrutamos de una maravillosa cena con el obispo de Saltillo, Don Raúl Vera. El Obispo Kopacz compartió con él su plan y visión pastoral para la diócesis de Jackson.
A la mañana siguiente, compartimos un desayuno con el padre David y el padre Evelio, que son grandes visionarios y están atendiendo las necesidades del pueblo. Otro ejemplo de su plan es un proyecto, en su infancia. San Miguel se ha convertido en el hogar de cuatro estudiantes que no pueden pagar habitación mientras estudian en la universidad. A cambio de alojamiento y comida, los estudiantes acompañan a los sacerdotes durante sus ministerios los fines de semanas, un proyecto que cuesta aproximadamente $2,500 por estudiante. Sin embargo, este es un excelente ejemplo de la iglesia ofreciendo sus servicios a los necesitados y cambiando las vidas de la gente para mejor.
Otro programa digno en San Miguel es el programa catequístico. Los catequistas jóvenes son traídos de las aldeas remotas para permanecer en San Miguel por una semana o dos

durante el verano. Los rancheros están muy conmovidos por esta experiencia. Por primera vez en su vida tienen comida servida por otra persona. Además, tienen la experiencia de tomar una ducha. Es un mundo diferente en San Miguel.
Me gustaría terminar con una breve historia de una niña de cuatro años que recibió mi última camiseta de St. Anthony. Estaba tan emocionada con su tesoro, que no se la quitaba. La camisa de talla-12 era tan larga que le llegaba hasta los tobillos. Su madre me dijo más tarde que no se lo quitaría incluso para ir a dormir y lo usó como su pijama. También l

e di el sombrero de golf St. Anthony que llevaba puesto, que ella también llevó a la cama, ya que estaba tan llena de alegría con su regalo. Puedo asegurarles que la gente de Saltillo está muy agradecida de todo lo que la gente de Mississippi hace por ellos y nos pidieron que les expresemos su gratitud. (Monseñor Flannery está escribiendo un libro que detalla la historia de la misión de Saltillo.)

Msgr. Flannery reflects on return to Saltillo

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Msgr. Michael Flannery visits with one of the children in the mission.

By Msgr. Michael Flannery
Bishop Joseph Kopacz and I went to visit the Saltillo Mission over the Thanksgiving holidays. Bishop Kopacz was fulfilling a promise he made to Father Benjamin Piovan, the pastor of San Miguel Mission who passed away last August and was buried in La Place, Louisiana. It was the first visit of the bishop to our mission south of the border. He did not know what to expect. He asked me to accompany him on the visit since I had been assigned to the Saltillo Mission from 1971 to 1974. I had kept in touch with the mission over the years and had returned to visit it more than 30 times.
We left Jackson on Thanksgiving day and we spent five wonderful days at San Miguel. During our time there we visited the seven churches within the city of Saltillo which are part of the mission. We visited two ranchos or villages. The villages assigned to Bishop Kopacz to visit were La Rosa (The Rose) and Sabanilla (The Little Cloth). La Rosa was one hour and a half from Saltillo. It had a paved road all the way. Sabanilla was 45 minutes by highway and two hours and fifteen minutes off the highway on a dirt road. We traveled in a wagon each time.
Friday was spent getting to know the senior citizens of San Miguel. We had a delightful meal with them. In Mexico, old age is not regarded as being a cross but rather a blessing. The elderly are revered and put on a pedestal as being wise and knowledgeable. That afternoon we spent at St. William’s Church and enjoyed a presentation on the birth of the Lord.
The first thing on the agenda for Saturday morning was the blessing of a catechetical center at Maria Auxiliadora. The children of Madison St. Anthony School built two catechetical class rooms as a Lenten project last year. The cost of the project was $4,000. The children of St. Anthony sacrificed for the entire Lenten Season to make it a reality. For the blessing of the catechetical center Bishop Kopacz was joined by the Bishop Emeritus Francisco Villalobos.
The highlight for me was the visit to La Rosa on Saturday. It was a village where I served more than 40 years ago. Father David Martinez, the present acting pastor of San Miguel, had arranged for members of five other villages to congregate there. They were all villages I had served in and most of the elderly people knew me. It was like a homecoming.

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Bishop Kopacz celebrated Mass at the main church on the mission, San Miguel Arcangel. He also conferred the sacrament of confirmation on the youth at the church.

For Bishop Kopacz, the highlight was the visit to Sabanilla (one of the ranchos) on Sunday morning. We were met by the villagers on the dirt road about a mile from the village requesting that we process from there by foot. They wrapped a Mexican flag around Bishop Kopacz’s shoulders and told him he was now truly Mexican. We processed singing: “Juntos como hermanos, miembros de una iglesia, vamos caminando al templo del Señor.” (Together as brothers and sisters, members of one church,  we go together walking, to the temple of the Lord.)
The bishop was duly impressed by the faith of the people. He remarked to me that this is what the gospel is all about. He recalled the life of Pope Francis who, as cardinal of Buenos Aires,  went with regularity by bus to a giant slum, in the district of Baracas known as “21-24.” Pope Francis challenges all of us to a new evangelization and to have a sensitivity for the poor of the world. The Lord looked after all the poor, the lonely, the crippled, blind and lame. No one was excluded from his ministry.
Another highlight for Bishop Kopacz was the visit to Perpetual Help Church and the tomb of Father Patrick Quinn, the founder of the mission. He remarked: “We should make every effort to keep alive the vision of Father Quinn.”
For Bishop Kopacz ‘seeing is believing’. Every place we went the people spoke with enthusiasm of the ministry of Father Quinn and his dedication to the poor of the ranchos. We stood in Father Quinn’s bedroom, which was his home for 30 years. We knew we were standing on holy ground.
The final night of our visit to Saltillo, we were invited to participate in a new project in honor of the memory of Father Quinn. A friend of the founding pastor had donated a strip of land within the city of Saltillo measuring 24 acres in size. It is most unusual to find a strip of property that size within city limits. The Bishop of Saltillo, Don Raul Vera joined us for the blessing of the corner stone of the project to be called Divine Mercy. It will contain a church in the round capable of seating 500 people, a home for unwed mothers and a dormitory for students from the ranchos who wish to pursue a university education but cannot afford to pay rent while attending classes. The compound has other possibilities for future growth.

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Bishop Joseph Kopacz celebrates Mass at the main church. Below he blesses a center, to be called Divine Mercy, in Saltillo, Mexico. (Photos courtesy of John Chevis)

After the ceremony we shared a delightful meal with Bishop Raul Vera, Bishop Kopacz, Father David Martinez, acting pastor, Father Evelio Casarrubias associate pastor of San Miguel and myself. At 10 p.m. we adjourned to pack our bags in preparation for our return journey to Jackson.
Every place Bishop Kopacz went everyone wanted a personal photo with him. As a result the photo op took approximately 30 minutes at each visit. In conclusion we both felt that the faith is alive and strong at San Miguel Mission. We agreed with Bishop Raul Vera that the continuance of the financial support was good so that the vision of Father Quinn would continue long into the future.
The Diocese of Jackson has a special collection for Saltillo scheduled for Jan. 10 and 11, 2015.
(Msgr. Flannery is the pastor of Madison St. Francis of Assisi Parish. Read Bishop Joseph Kopacz’s reflection on the journey on page 3.)