Dan Schell, a Secular Franciscan, led four postulants from St. Conrad and two postulants from the California province on a mission to trip to work at the Miguel Pro Mission in Mexico for a week in November.
Our Capuchin Franciscan, Fr. Bill Kraus and a friar from the California province worked alongside the postulants in Juarez. The Mission is a support agency started
by Fr. Peter Urban, a diocesan priest of the Archdiocese of Denver. Fr. Urban spent a number of his retirement years working in Juarez.
Currently the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word operate the mission including four neighborhood centers in Juarez, each called, “Centro Mujeres Tonantzin.” The postulants spent most of their week helping out at one of these centers.
The primary reason for going to Juarez was to be with the people there, to experience a little of what they experience, and to be of help to the degree that we were able.
Besides teaching and supporting the women and the children in these neighborhood centers, the missionaries work on constructing ecological toilets where there are no basic facilities. In addition they build greenhouses and teach women how to grow their own plants to supplement the food that they buy.
Fr. Bill Kraus says of the experience: “It’s hard to say who, exactly, was ministering to whom. As always, we received more than we gave. We each were touched by the generosity and sacrifice of the Sisters, and the heroic efforts of the women. There are so many challenges these women face in finding the where-with-all to feed their
families, to support their children in school, and to live authentic Christian lives themselves.
But much more important than the physical work was the life we shared with the people in their homes and centers and colonies, very poor materially (simple housing, dirt streets, no sewers - thus the goodness of ecological toilets) but very rich in faith (their Bible studies and prayer groups and simple trust in God in their difficult physical lives) and community (the way they come support one another materially and emotionally and spiritually.) It looked and felt very much like the Christian communities of Acts 2 and 4. Our postulants, as well as the two postulants from CA and their director Fr. Hai Ho, felt we were all greatly enriched and taught by these communities the values of faith and family.
Speaking for myself, what I brought back and hold in my heart is the value and live today the gifts of faith and community. So often I, like my culture, look to tomorrow: life will be better when I reach this achievement or this success or this goal. Life tomorrow! The folks on the edge of Juarez, yes, want a good education for their children and strive to improve their lives emotionally and spiritually; but it's clear that their joy and peace is to know God and lives to the fullest today, treasuring the faith and the community that the Lord has blessed them with.”
As Pope Francis calls us to minister to the poor, the Capuchin Franciscans have always been in places where others fear to go!
Fr. Bill Kraus and Postulants of St. Conrad Province at San Miguel Mission
Fr. Bill Kraus, O.F.M.Cap.
Postulant Julian Torres helping mix cement