Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year 2014

Another year begins, and I can’t help but think a little of the past, the present, and the future.

The past: It was seven years ago today that Father Lawrence Moran, CSB, died. It was Father Moran who, after retiring from teaching at St. Mary’s High School in Calgary, began this “relationship” with the poor in Mexico. I remember when he asked me to stay with him for at least a year in 1982. He said, “Mike, I can’t stay here in the mountains by myself. I forget to feed the horse. I fall asleep driving the Jeep. I leave my sombrero in every church I visit. But I love it here. Please come and live with me.”
Father Moran in 1982
I was very happy teaching at St. Mary’s, but I thought that this living saint (Father Moran) deserved his “dying wish,” so I began my stay in Mexico. I wonder: if I had known at the time that Father Moran would be living another twenty-five years and making many other “dying wishes,” would I have accepted that initial invitation?

The present: It’s minus 25 degrees here in Regina (minus 38 with the wind chill factor), and I can’t help but wish for Mexican weather. I see that it’s 30 degrees today in Tlapa de Comonfort, Guerrero, Mexico, where I will be next week—although I also see that it will go down to 13 degrees there tonight. More than anything, though, I am thinking of my wonderful wife, Julie, and our two daughters, Sage and Sky. I want to spend as much “quality time” as possible with them during my last few days in Canada.

The future: There is no doubt that 2014 will be a difficult year for the people in the mountains of Guerrero. Tropical Storm Manuel in September of 2013—the worst natural disaster in the history of the State of Guerrero—destroyed houses, animals, crops, fields, lives. The outpouring of solidarity from people in other Mexican states was incredible. That initial response gave immediate relief to thousands of families. But the struggle for food, housing, and livelihood will be a challenge during all of 2014. Long-term solutions will need to be found for these people and communities.

Mission Mexico will try to be a partner in these life-giving efforts. But it will be a challenging year for Mission Mexico too. The flooding in southern Alberta in June of 2013 meant that people in the area concentrated on responding to the real needs of the people affected by that disaster—and that rebuilding effort continues. And in November of 2013, Calgarians and others responded (and are still responding) with great solidarity in support of the victims of the Super Typhoon Haiyan that devastated parts of the Philippines. One can’t help but feel gratitude and admiration for the compassion and sharing of so many Canadians after these tragedies.

I guess that my hope for 2014 is that people and institutions (schools; churches; businesses) in Canada will continue to support projects in Alberta and in the Philippines and elsewhere, but that people and institutions remember Mexico too. Mission Mexico has forged over the years a most trusting relationship with individuals and groups struggling for life in Mexico, and these friends and “partners” in Mexico are hoping that Mission Mexico will be able to continue offering support in 2014, in what looks like it will be a most challenging year for the very impoverished people there.

So thank you to all who have supported Mission Mexico in the past, and thank you ahead of time for all who will support Mission Mexico in the future. Have a wonderful 2014.    

PS: After my mom’s death a month ago, I found some old photos in her house that she had kept from 1982, my first year with Father Moran in Mexico. I have included a few of these in this blog. Thanks, Mom, for the memories.


  1. Mike - that photo of the truck stuck in the river reminded me of when our crew got stuck (probably in that very same river) the summer of 1983 (I think). The last one made me think of the burros that would be loaded down with bottles of coca-cola heading up to a remote village. That was a life-changing trip.

    1. Wow, Diane, what a wonderful surprise! Thanks. I have no idea where you are, but I hope that you're happy. Coincidentally, I will be on the road at least ten hours (five hours to Arroyo Prieto; five hours back), and maybe I'll see one of those burros. If so, I will say "Hi" to it for you. :)