Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Quick Winter Visit from Mexico to Calgary

Xalpitzahuac is one of the coldest places (temperature-wise) in La Montaña,
and Marcelino appreciates having firewood for cooking and for warmth

It is not unusual for Canadians to escape from the cold winter of Canada and travel to a southern destination where there is sun and warmth. I did the opposite a few weeks ago: I traveled from Mexico to Regina and Calgary for a quick visit. And, yes, I noticed the difference in climate (to say the least).
Give me Mexico's climate...
As many people familiar with Mission Mexico (MMEX) know, MMEX has been an outreach project of the Diocese of Calgary for more than fifteen years. MMEX was founded by Father Fred Monk in 1999, initially as a parish project in Cochrane, after a visit to the mountains here in the State of Guerrero, Mexico. Later, Bishop Fred Henry endorsed the project as a diocesan effort.
A card drawn by Paty Gasca to assist in Mission Mexico's fundraising efforts
Now, in 2018, Father Fred Monk has retired from parish ministry, and the Diocese of Calgary has a new bishop—William T. McGrattan was installed as Calgary’s eighth bishop on February 27, 2017. And Mission Mexico will now be coordinated by the diocesan Mission Council; this council is coordinated by Sister Rita Kim, f.m.m. In reality, these are now my new “bosses.”
Bishop William T. McGrattan and Sister Rita Kim, f.m.m.—my thanks to both
Since Sister Rita and Bishop McGrattan had never met me, I went to Calgary to talk with them personally about the projects that MMEX is supporting and about their impact on the lives of the impoverished indigenous people of the Mountain. I brought with me messages of greeting and gratitude from many people from this area, including Tlapa’s present bishop, Dagoberto Sosa Arriaga.
The coordinating council of the Champagnat High School of the Mountain sent their thanks for support
I had the good fortune to stay for a few days in the FCJ Christian Life Centre, in downtown Calgary. The hospitality offered by the FCJ sisters and the personnel there was incredible.
The FCJ Christian Life Centre—what a beautiful blessing for Calgary
I had a wonderful supper in Cochrane with Father Fred Monk and other members of the Mission Mexico committee that had collaborated with him in the past. My gratitude is extended to all of these wonderful individuals. Leslie Davies, I am sorry that you couldn’t be there that night.
Thank you, Joann, Fred, Mary Anna, Warren, and John
I spent quality time with Father Fred Monk and Sister Rita Kim as we talked about the continuing support that the Diocese of Calgary hopes to offer to the people in this poorest region of Mexico. Father Fred is considered a hero and a saint here by the local people, and hopefully the future will allow him to visit here again. Sister Rita, thanks for your willingness to oversee these important life-changing projects.
It's impossible to express my gratitude adequately to Sister Rita and Father Fred...
The Mission Council supports projects both at home (especially the four First Nations’ Reserves located within the Diocese of Calgary) and abroad. A special subcommittee has been formed to assist the Mission Mexico projects. My gratitude goes out to the volunteers who offer their time and energy to help make MMEX possible. Hopefully you too will come to visit here in the mountains of Guerrero.
Jeff Hagel and Chandra Schubert, two members of  the Mission Mexico subcommitee...thanks
It was a quick visit—but most productive. There was not much free time. I did make a quick visit to St. Mary’s Senior High School, where I was a teacher in the late 70s and early 80s. I admit that just standing in the hallway was emotional for me, mostly for the sense of gratitude for having been allowed to know such incredible students and teachers. 
I couldn’t help but wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn’t moved to Mexico to accompany
 Father Lawrence Moran, OSB, in 1982.
And there were just a few times that I could meet up with old friends, most of whom I had not seen in some thirty years. These visits were extra “bonuses” in my four days in Calgary. Next time I hope to have a little more time (hee hee, that is a warning, Cathy and Rene Proulx, and Margot and Len Lang, and…).
Thanks, Erika and Jess Nieukerk (especially for the mole supper), Kathy Murphy, James Murphy,
Teri McKinnon (née MacDonald), Janet and Edwin Malate, and Father Greg Coupal
Thank you to everyone who made this trip such a blessed experience, and thank you to all of the good people in the Diocese of Calgary (and elsewhere) who support Mission Mexico and nourish the struggles and the hopes of the impoverished indigenous peoples here in the mountains of Mexico. God bless you for your generosity and solidarity.
Jeff Hagel, a special "Thank you" for your service and commitment to Mission Mexico

No comments:

Post a Comment