Broken mufflers, bumping music, and ATVs ruling the street; taco stands, front yard BBQs, and lively Spanish chatter; Lions hats, Tigers jerseys, and Pistons fans—OK, it’s official, I’m back in Southwest Detroit after a summer visit to our mission in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Coming back was a considerable change, but my time in Mexico is something I will not soon forget.
Nuevo Laredo is an incredible mission, although certainly not an easy place to live or work on many different levels. It can be crazy hot, poverty is generally present, and the ruling drug cartels are quite visible and sometimes scary—maybe these are a few of the reasons why the faith of many of the people I met there is so alive. The parish and its five mission churches all have busy Masses on the weekends, volunteers give much of their time and energy towards successful feast day celebrations, and a steady flow of adorers come faithfully for their holy hours from early in the morning to late at night.
I also saw this faith in the ministry of door-to-door evangelization with the youth group. At first, I was a little nervous with everything being in Spanish and because of the ever possible “worst case scenarios” that run through your mind with this kind of ministry. However, walking right beside me were young men and women, teenagers, holding their Bibles and more than willing to witness to their faith in God. I was also surprised that most of the people we visited were genuinely interested in talking about God and were quite happy to meet us.
One woman, for example, whose children were mixing with the wrong crowds, found hope at just seeing young people the same age as her children living out their faith in such a committed way. Another finally got an answer to one of her long-held questions about the Mass and was able to reserve a Mass intention for her father who had passed away from Covid. A third had a hard time holding back tears as we prayed together for the healing of some family problems.
It was certainly a strong faith that I saw in the mission of Nuevo Laredo, the faith of the mustard seed having taken root and grown into the largest of plants (cf. Matthew 13:31-32), and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have been able to rest in its branches for a short while.
Br. Adam Schmitzer, SOLT