Well, I returned to the U.S. last Friday night, July 28th, and proceeded directly to the seminarian retreat for the next few days. We spent time with Fr. William Baer, the Rector/President of St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, MN. We have two seminarians at Vianney (Mike and Jason) and Fr. Baer was a joy to have as our retreat director. We also spent 2 days at Grand Lake relaxing and having some fun. It was a very fitting way to cap off the summer.
My final couple of weeks in Guadalajara flew by. One event that stands out is a trip with the other students and many teachers to the Parish of St. Bernardo. It is the largest church in Guadalajara (as far as seating capacity) and has a really beautiful and meaningful mural painted behind the altar depicting the entire bible and beyond. The mural is about 3 stories tall and probably 80 feet or more wide. It took the artist 24 years to complete and has scenes from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Modern World.
You can see more and learn about the mural by clicking on this link – The Seminario – and visiting an online special edition of the archdiocesan newspaper about the mural and the artist. Here are the two halves of the mural so you can get an idea, but I could not get them to line up perfectly.
Some things that make the parish of Saint Bernardo’s stand out are the multiple on-site ministries that thrive in the parish buildings. One is a live-in drug and alcohol addiction recovery center for men. It houses 75 men for 3 months as they dry out and learn how to change and become drug and alcohol free. It was very humbling when these men, who were working very hard to change and better their lives, stood and clapped for us students because we were comprised of seminarians and priests studying Spanish to serve the Latino communities in the U.S. – I really wanted to applaud them for their courage and strength. Another ministry is a fully functioning nursing home for the elderly whose families could not afford to send them to any other facility and did not have the ability to care for them. They also had a very large daycare center for children from 3 months to 6 years old. Another ministry is a home for children with Down Syndrome – one form of mental retardation. All of these ministries were run from the parish budget with many paid staff (some are volunteers) to serve Guadalajara. This parish family truly were serving those people in need.
I also traveled to Mazamitla with Silverio (the son of the host family I lived with) my last Saturday in Mexico. It is a really nice and inviting small village in the mountains and one of Silverio’s favorite places to visit. It rained the entire trip, but the countryside and town were worth the time and effort. We did some exploring around town, some shopping, had lunch at a local restaurant, and spent a little time just viewing the sights and people from a small bar. The pace was definitely slower than that in Guadalajara.
My last few eventful items were buying Pollo Pepe’s chicken for the whole family on Sunday (really good rotiserie style chicken), going to see Superman Returns with some of my seminarian friends, having a couple of meals out with the host family, and buying donuts and cookies to share with the other students and teachers on my last day of classes. The last few weeks of classes were also topped off on Tuesdays and Thursdays by an evening Mass at the school. Since there were many priests towards the end of the summer, this was a nice way to complete those school days. I played guitar and cantered for each of these masses in Spanish. I am very glad I took my guitar along. It gave me a chance to relax in the evenings and serve my brothers and sisters in music for these liturgies.
Now is a time for a little relaxation and free time. I will be in Tulsa for pretty much the whole month of August and look forward to slowing down and letting my brain relax a little. If you are around, give me a call or drop me an email – I would love to get together with you. Be blessed!