Thursday, April 6, 2017

Diocese of Tlapa—Twenty-Five Years of Service

Two hours of dirt road to get to Acatepec (in the red circle), and then two more
hours of driving to get home to Tlapa—and I had already been driving for five hours
I knew when I was taking that photo of Acatepec on the far-distant mountainside that I was going to be sick for several days. I was already super-tired, my throat and eyes were irritated from so many hours of dust—and I still had four hours of driving to get “home” to Tlapa. But sometimes one just doesn’t have a choice.
It's always fun to rest for a while during a long drive and interact with friends
So, yes, I’m late with this blog, after having a bad cold, a swollen throat, and a terrible headache these past days. But tomorrow I will be on the go again—just in time for Holy Week.
Monica and Mariam enjoyed getting their picture taken
And I was able to visit Doña Modesta on my way back to Tlapa. She was very happy to show me that the bad cut on her leg was now almost completely healed. She also mentioned that the reason she lived alone is that her husband had left her years ago after it became evident that she was not going to be able to give him a child.
Modesta agrees: that looks like a pretty good healing job
And before I got sick, I was privileged to go to the “Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College” in Ayotzinapa, to translate for the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center and the parents of the 43 disappeared students as they dialogued with visitors from the United States and South Africa. It has been more than thirty months since their sons were disappeared, and the families are still no closer to finding their beloved sons. What makes the situation even worse is that the investigating Mexican authorities have turned out “stories” that seem designed not to lead to truth and justice but to the protection of criminals, politicians, police, army, etc.
Visiting the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College and family members of the 43 disappeared students;
in lower right, Abel Barrera and  Sandra Alarcón, from the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of the Mountain
And the Diocese of Tlapa celebrated its 25th anniversary. It was founded in 1992, and I had the honor of being the personal secretary of the first bishop, Alejo Zavala Castro, for more than ten years. The apostolic nuncio to Mexico, Franco Coppola, was present, as well as several other bishops. The anniversary celebration was simple but meaningful, and people came from all over the mountains to share in the festivities. Here are a few photos from that day.
Apostolic nuncio Franco Coppola and Tlapa's present bishop, Dagoberto Sosa Arriaga
Tlapa's three bishops in its twenty-five-year history
Everyone wanted a photo with Tlapa's beloved first bishop, Alejo Zavala Castro
Now Holy Week is coming up, and hundreds of young people from different parts of Mexico will come to the mountains for a week-long experience of “insertion” into the daily lives of the impoverished indigenous communities. It is always a rewarding experience for the visitors and for the local people. Mission Mexico has played a role for years in organizing these experiences; it’s just one small way of breaking down walls between the “haves” and the “have nots”—although many of the visitors go away wondering if their material “having” is all that it is made out to be.
Braulio and Marisol (and some weird guy) on a hot day in Agua Tordillo
Friends, I wish you all a great Holy Week. The people here find it easy to identify with the suffering and marginalization that Jesus suffered during this last week of his earthly life. The resurrection—well, we’re still working on that. But it is great to know that Mission Mexico is a respected and beloved partner in this journey toward transformation. Thank you to all the people “up north” who support this valuable work. 
The apostolic nuncio to Mexico also visited the Marist Brothers and the 250 indigenous students at
the Champagnat High School of the Mountain, a major project supported by Mission Mexico

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