Communal Worship Space and the Means to Get There
A vision for our companion diocese relationship
Our diocese has a companion relationship with the Diocese of Western Mexico. Last month, we submitted a grant request to United Thank Offering for funds to build a communal worship space with a medical exam room, small pharmacy, and modest clergy living area, and to purchase a 4×4 truck with cargo space for transporting people and supplies across the ministry area. The people in the ministry area in Central Mexico, the Pame, are poor and politically marginalized.
The Pame people have been, in the minds of their leaders, abandoned by the Roman Catholic Church when the institution colluded with the Mexican government in building a highway through their lands and failed to reimburse them for this travesty. Left without a church they could trust, Pame leaders began exploring a partnership with the Anglican Church of Mexico that was formalized in 2016. This collaboration is God’s invitation to reconcile an indigenous people’s break with organized religion and support their spiritual and physical health during a time of great challenge to their wellbeing.
Though Western Mexico has plenty of other worthy projects in need of support, they recognized the needs of the Pame to be greater and more urgent still. A seminarian based in nearby San Luis Potosi has been the on-the-ground contact and relationship builder as this ministry initiative launches.
The Pame Nation claims land that stretches 134 square miles (about twice the size of the District of Columbia). Within this area live some 5,000 to 10,000 people in 35 communities separated by mountainous terrain and rocky roads. Public transportation consists of old, private pickup trucks that charge 20-50 pesos (a steep price) for rides to the nearest town of Rayón, where the nearest pharmacy is located (which charges 20-30 pesos over medicine prices in larger cities). These indigenous communities have no central worship or cultural center to call their own.
A communal worship space in the rural mountains of Central Mexico, and a truck to transport people, medicine and supplies, will go a long way toward raising the standard of living for this rural people group. Once the building is constructed, we expect that Mexican government funds will become available to staff the medical clinic. Private donations can provide the starting capital for the pharmacist, and the pharmacy will generate income through medicine sales for its sustainability. The Diocese of Western Mexico plans to support these communities with a clergy person, and the Diocese of San Diego will focus its initial relationship-building with its companion diocese within the context of this ministry project. We hope individual San Diego parishes will begin supporting this project in the years to come.
We love how much can be accomplished for a relatively small investment because of the lower cost of doing business in Mexico and because of the large amount of sweat equity that will be put into the construction of the proposed worship center by the Pame people. The project will reconnect a disillusioned indigenous people with the Church and enable more affordable access to medical care and transportation, greatly increasing residents’ quality of life. That is God’s good news, indeed!
The design for this project has come from Diana Cabello, the seminarian who has worked most closely with the Pame people. It is responding to their expressed needs for more affordable health care, medicine, and transportation and for a place to worship together as a community. Sustainability will come from the pharmacy’s earned income and from governmental staffing of the medical clinic, along with ongoing private donations as our dioceses’ life together deepens. It lays the groundwork for many years of sharing God’s Good News alongside the Pame people of central Mexico.
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