In May of this year, we were hit by a very powerful but very localized thunderstorm. Winds of up to 105 mph were responsible for extensive damage in the city of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico including the complete destruction of our little wooden chapel of Saints Elizabeth and Zechariah (Isabel y Zacharias). Our other four mission churches had already been rebuilt in block and cement and weathered the storm much better, but this one was still awaiting her upgrade. When parishioners sent me their heartfelt condolences upon seeing the destruction, I chuckled to myself, as my first reaction had been, in all honesty, “Well, now I will really have to get a move on with rebuilding!”
I had already been working on a design for the chapel during the first days of the pandemic, when I found myself at loose ends, before we had figured out how to continue working. I had decided to build using locally-made brick. I would have liked stone, but there was no local stone available. The builder, a parishioner, was not enthusiastic, as he said it would take three times the mortar to cement a brick as it would to cement a block! It is true that the work was more expensive than I had estimated but thanks to very generous benefactors I was able to cover the expense and even add the rather extravagant touches (by local standards) of a tiled floor (Saltillo tile) and wooden ceiling (stained plywood). All to the glory of God.
FR. TRISTAN ABBOTT, SOLT was ordained a priest in 2014, and is the pastor of Our Lady of Refuge Parish. He grew up on the Cayman Islands and has been serving in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico since his ordination.