|An precandidate works on building a church for the local villagers.|
Chilapa, Veracruz, Mexico – Last month, twelve nervous and excited
young men in sweaters and gray slacks walked down the
jet bridge at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. In their backpacks
they carried Bibles, leather gloves, candy and other sundry items.
They would soon have an experience that will change the
way they look at the world. They will forget about
themselves and become apostles to share the love of Christ.
members of the junior class from Sacred Heart Apostolic School
in Rolling Prairie, Indiana soon disembark into the neighboring country
of Mexico. Upon arrival in Mexico City, they stop to
pray and celebrate Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady
The next day they set out on a
five-hour drive to Chilapa, Veracruz, to visit a small village
at the feet of Pico de Orizaba Mountain. When they
arrive, they see people in great poverty, but with a
serene happiness the seminarians have not experienced before.
the people in the region still cook on open fires
inside their houses without ventilation. The townspeople breathe in the
smoke and many become ill. The seminarian missionaries’ main work
will be to install stove caps with small chimneys into
|In front of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Mexico City.|
“I remember stooping down to enter one elderly man’s
house because it was too small for us to even
stand up in,” recalls Max Nguyen, 15, a student at
Sacred Heart since 2008. “The open fire was still burning
when we arrived. None of us could stay inside for
more than a minute without having to step outside for
some fresh air. I am grateful for the opportunity I
had to really experience first-hand how some of the people
there live every day. It made me realize how much
we have and what a difference we could make for
Another project for the missionaries was to construct a
new church building. Each of them raised money before the
trip to be able to purchase cement and other materials.
In the afternoons, they mixed, hauled, and poured cement for
“It was hard work,” said Aaron Estes, 15,
of St. Louis, Missouri. “But we knew it was worth
it to help the people. Almost all the little boys
in the town came out wanting to work with us
as well, and that was cool to see that our
enthusiasm was contagious. I guess it was an opportunity to
|Among the village children.|
‘build the Church’ (part of the Legion of Christ and
Regnum Christi motto) in a very literal sense!”
In the evenings,
the missionaries invited all the townspeople to Mass. Afterwards they
performed a skit and lead games for the children.
last day, they hiked up the mountain, reaching their goal
of 14,500 feet. The volcano summit, at 18,491 feet, is
the tallest in Mexico and third-tallest in North America.
after leaving for Mexico, twelve young men dressed in sweaters
and gray slacks, along with a sombrero, walk up the
jet bridge at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. In their backpacks they
carry images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexican sweets and
knick-knacks, and a few left-over pesos. These high-school seminarians are
not the same as they were when they left Chicago.
Their real mission is just beginning...
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