By Paul Wheeler, St. Mary Parish, Saskatoon
The city of Aguascalientes, Mexico, while offering many beautiful sights, also has a section of the city where the people live in great poverty. In particular, the neighbourhood of Vincente Guerrero is an area of those who face daily struggles to get by.
My wife, Ely, and I are from Saskatoon and are fortunate enough to be able to have holidays in November and December. Each year, we spend these holidays here in Mexico with our Mexican family and friends.
Before she moved to Canada, Ely was the director of social services in this part of the city of Aguascalientes and she knows the struggles the people of colonia Vincente Guerrero face. Every year when we visit, we try to host a small ‘project’ to help out some of the persons living in this neighborhood.
This year, our project was to help the local parish host a Christmas celebration for the children in the catechism classes of the local parish in the colony, Jesus de Nazaret. After getting permission from parish priest Father Fernando, we went about organizing for this event, held of December 17, the same day as the catechism classes Christmas pageant.
We were in for a big surprise. Originally, we believed there would be approximately 25 to 30 children in these classes. When we met with Father Fernando and the teachers of the classes, however, it turned out that there were 150 children!
Fortunately, with the generous help of Ken and Diane Fahlman of Regina (Ken and I are both in the diaconate classes for those discerning a call as permanent deacons), and local merchants in Mexico, we ended up with gift bags, small toys, and treats for all 150 children, as well as dolls and action figures for the younger kids. Ely spoke to them about Canada and many of the children asked questions about life in Canada. All in all, a great day!
To witness the passionate faith which is developing in these youngsters is very humbling. Even at these young ages, they know the love and generosity of Our Lord and He is their source of hope in the future. The devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe if also very humbling. She is viewed as their protector and mother.
Please pray for these children facing the struggles of poverty. May the blessings of peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of us during this season of hope.
Photos by Paul Wheeler: