Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Some Great Memories

The memory of the righteous is a blessing…
Proverbs 10:7

It’s amazing how one day could become, for me, a day full of memories. I didn’t plan it that way; it just happened.
The Champagnat High School is the complex beside the soccer field in the lower part of the photo
 It began on Sunday morning, when I went at 6:30 to the village of Potoichan to attend a memorial Mass for the first anniversary of the death of Brother Manuel, who died while he was the director of the Champagnat High School of La Montaña. Mission Mexico has supported this school since its construction began nine years ago. Manuel was a much beloved teacher, mentor, and friend, and his sudden death (while watching the movie Rambo, believe it or not) was a heavy blow to the staff and students at the school. Many students who have graduated from the school returned, with flowers and with tears, to the anniversary Mass.
Remembering Brother Manuel on the first anniversary of his death
Then I went to Xalpatlahuac to drop off a couple of young people who had showed up to sing at the Mass in their native language of nahuatl. As I was driving along the riverbed leading into the village, I heard my name being shouted. I looked over, and there was Santiago, a friend from ten years ago. I hadn’t been expecting to run into him (I assumed he had died), and I didn’t expect him to recognize me and remember my name ten years later. It was sad to hear how he has been struggling since his wife died a slow death a few years ago, but it was a joy just to be with him again.
Don Santiago, a great friend from years past
Later I went to the village of Alcozauca, because I had heard that Sandra, a girl for whom I was the sponsor at her confirmation twenty-nine years ago, was visiting (from California) her mother, Josefina; they hadn’t seen each other in sixteen years. It was wonderful to see Sandra reunited with her mother and siblings.
Elisa, Josefina (the mom), Sandra, and Elisa's son, Denzel
One of those siblings is her younger sister, Elisa. I mention Elisa because Josefina told me that she had chosen the name “Elisa” for her daughter because sometime in the mid-1980s, two twin girls from Calgary called Elisa and Melissa had visited Alcozauca in the summer, and Josefina (the sister of the parish priest at the time, Father José Guadalupe) really liked their names. Wow! Do any readers of this blog know an Elisa or a Melissa from Calgary that would have taken part in a summer experience with Father Lawrence Moran in Mexico in the mid-80s? And Sandra remembered Jessica from Calgary (originally from Chile) and sends her a greeting.
Father Lawrence Moran in Alcozauca in the 1980s
 Another memory was Father Moran, who was the parish priest in Alcozauca from 1982 to 1985. Everyone in Alcozauca who knew him back then asked me about him. The people may not have seen him for thirty years, and he died in 2007, but his generosity, his total self-giving, and his commitment to the people of the parish left an indelible mark in all those who knew him. Many told anecdotes about ways that he had helped their families back in those days.
Father Moran in Calgary, shortly before his death
It was a good day. It was also fun just driving the roads—roads that back in the ‘80s were just footpaths that I had walked along while Father Moran rode his horse, Negro. Everyone encouraged me to visit more often. I am grateful to Mission Mexico for the incredible blessing of being allowed to live among these beautiful people and of being able to recall these wonderful memories of great people. Adapting slightly what Sirach (39:9) says in the Bible: Their memory will not disappear, and their names will live through all generations.
Driving into the valley to Alcozauca

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