22 Jun ‘Imagine No Heaven’: Mexico Without Vocations
ANTI-CATHOLIC POP ART: Mexico’s media and art elites have for over 200 years worked assiduously at discrediting the Church’s religious Orders, but until recent decades the country nevertheless had many vocations. This has suddenly ground to a halt nearly everywhere except one or two traditional states. What’s going on?
Frank and Irene Denke: While I don’t know the situation in other parishes, in our parish many boys are serving with the FSSP priests during the “Extra Ordinary” Latin Mass we have on Sundays in Guadalajara, and some have shown a deep interest in becoming priests and some have already entered the FSSP seminary in Nebraska. There are many contacts here between priests of the FSSP and groups (marriage; catechism; etc.) of laity in our parish. The FSSP also has a missionary activity that brings people from the US to Mexico to help the poor for several weeks, before they return to the States. While most don’t speak much Spanish, It has still been very successful.
Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles: There are just few young boys that want to act as altar servers. Since 10 years ago, we have seen more girls as altar servers. The registry of the parishes are often attended by women (not always with the best attitude). We can say, in the most of the minor churches there are just one or two (at most) priests, and all the church operations are run by lay people.
Derik Castillo Guajardo: There are very fine young men discerning their religious vocations. I met a few who were attracted to religion because the family is active in the church, mainly in the Catechism, or another religious movement. Sadly some of them find the seminary not fulfilling their expectations. That is to say, they would like to find an environment where they can grow in sanctity, but this is not always the case, and they quit.
Frank and Irene Denke: Our young neighbor has been very active for years in a Catholic group of young lay people here who were working under a priest who came from the US in the 1990’s – Fr. Jose F. Pawliki. They organized missionary groups in the Guadalajara area among young married and unmarried youth, then trained and sent them out to evangelize. Fr. Pawliki died in 1999, but left a very well organized missionary organization that still draws young Mexicans to it these days.
Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: Although there are 40 new priests ordained here in Guadalajara every year, the ratio is still around one priest for every 10 thousand people practically. Which translates to if the priest were to hear confessions every day for two hours in his church, and if everyone would go to confession during that time, each person would have three minutes a year to go to confession. In other diocese it is one priest for every twenty thousand. And likewise the same crisis in society permeates the clerical ambit as well. One priest told me that of his 40 classmates, after ten years ten had already left the priesthood. The Masonic law of the Mexican Constitution prohibited the use of the cassock 100 years ago so as to exclude Christ from the public forum, and although it was made legal again after the visit of Pope John Paul II generally the clergy go about in lay clothes, which only contributes to the confusion as regards their identity and the appropriate manner to interact with each other. In short the harvest is ripe but the laborers are few, and the good laborers are even fewer.
Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: There are still many altar servers. The previous Archbishop of Guadalajara insisted still that girls not be allowed to serve Mass, as it would naturally deter young boys from participating and thus beginning their first steps toward the altar, and thus he always attributed the large number of vocations in part to the exclusivity of having males as altar servers. Again my experience is that it is a very crucial time. People still generally recognize and respect the priest, so all the doors are open in terms of being able to evangelize in a very natural way. But the forces of evil are ever growing, and many once Catholic countries like Spain and cities like Quebec which were super catholic less than 70 years ago, are now in many ways very hostile to the faith. So the present moment is crucial so as not to follow the same path. “Now is the acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation.”