|Eduardo Verástegui and missionaries gather around a local woman from Jonotla.|
Jonotla, Mexico. September 3, 2008. From July 1st to 7th,
some 40 young men and women from all over the
United States, Mexico, and Canada descended on a remote town
in the mountains of East Central Mexico, hammers in hand,
to take part in the 2nd Manto de Guadalupe
Manto de Guadalupe was founded on December 9, 2005
by actor and producer (Bella; Metanoia Films 2006) Eduardo
Verástegui. The name means “Mantle of Guadalupe,” referring to Our
Lady of Guadalupe’s promise to Juan Diego that she would
keep and protect him under her motherly mantle.
True to its
name, the non-profit Manto de Guadalupe Foundation is on a
mission of mercy with two main goals: to help provide
housing to poor families in Mexico, and to help women
with crisis pregnancies.
During their week of labors on this second
mission sponsored by Manto de Guadalupe, the team of 40
missionaries built simple houses, repaired roofs, and laid cement floors.
The mission began with Mass at the Basilica of Our
Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
It ended at her feet
once again, at the shrine of “La Virgen del Penón,”
which is a church built high on the rocky face
of a mountain where Our Lady appeared to a small
boy in 1922, leaving an image of Our Lady of
Guadalupe on the rock.
A Place of Humble Faith
chosen for missions are selected based on their degree of
need. Jonotla, with its run-down houses and extreme poverty, was
sorely in need. But Jonotla also enriched the missionaries with
its witness of simple faith.
Kim Piotruchowski, a missionary from Michigan,
was struck by a story told by Fr Juan Gabriel
Guerra, the Legionary chaplain who accompanied them. A Mexican man
was trying to revive a dying cactus and he saw
|Fr Juan Gabriel Guerra, LC, motivates the missionaries to live out their mission under Our Lady’s protection.|
Father standing nearby.
“Father, would you bless the cactus with holy
water?” he asked. According to that man, God was all
that the cactus needed; God would take care of everything.
Like many of the poor in Mexico’s rural towns, Jonotla’s
simple people live out a true reliance on God as
their sustainer and provider. It is as natural as breathing
for them to start a sentence with “Gracias a Dios”
(thanks be to God) or “Dios mediante” (God willing).
material poverty was extreme—but what struck the missionaries most was
the deep and living faith of the people, along with
their strong sense of family and community.
“They depend on each
other for survival, but they also received us, total strangers,
with gratitude and love,” said Jenny Allen, a missionary.
Andrew Darlington was moved by the number of people who
told him he was “a gift from God.” Afterwards, he
|Missionaries revving up for another day of manual labor.|
wondered: how different would our lives be if we looked
at others as gifts from God and ourselves as gifts
“Often we think we’re called to share with others
our experience of faith, of life, of understanding,” said Jenny
Allen. “But I learned that it’s not about us. It’s
about the needs and situation of the person or persons
in front of us. That is what we are called
to respond to; that is the missionary call to all
“Christ calls us to be missionaries at home, every
day, in our personal and specific circumstances; missionaries who respond
to the needs of others around them.”
For more information
about Manto de Guadalupe, visit the Spanish-language web site at
www.mantodeguadalupe.com or visit the English-language web site of Eduardo Verástegui.