Saturday, November 10
Arrival in Mexico City in the evening. Fr. Amozurrutia came to pick me up at the airport. We reached the District House around 11:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 11
Pontifical High Mass and Confirmations for 80 faithful! The priests of the District House were present: Frs. Amozurrutia, Lethu and Guiscafré; as were the priests of the priory: Frs. Mouroux, Rodríguez and Hone.
Monday, November 12
Flight to Chihuahua where Fr. Ramirez, the young Columbian prior, greeted me. Fr. Puga who habitually services this chapel was also there.
In the evening, High Mass and Confirmations for 23 faithful. This chapel has unfortunately suffered from the “resistance”. With the departure of Fr. Cardozo, we lost about half the faithful. Some have returned, some newcomers have arrived. So we now have about 120 parishioners. This chapel is about 500 kilometers from the Priory of Gómez Palacio that services it. Which means about 5 hours by car or 6 or 7 by bus, which our priests prefer.
Wednesday, November 14
Tuesday was spent mostly driving. Finally, in the evening of the 14th, High Mass and Confirmations in our chapel in Gómez. The chapel is older than the priory that was acquired more recently and established by Fr. Haynos, who has since become Fr. Matthew, a Benedictine, and now teaches in our seminary in Dillwyn. The discreetly Benedictine aspect of the building can be noticed here and there! When we bought this property, it was in the middle of nowhere. Now it is lost in the middle of a city! A crowd of little houses crammed side by side with an ugly “wart” on their flat roofs: the water tank…
We will have the joy of administering 16 Confirmations, in the presence of a good hundred faithful. There is an unusual cold spell that began in the evening in Chihuahua and followed us here to Gómez Palacio.
Thursday, November 15
Flight to Guadalajara. Fr. Gardère met me at the airport and drove me to the priory in the middle of the city. It is composed of three houses side by side, which makes it a large house.
Fr. Motta is here as well, but Fr. Guiscafré, from Argentina, is on vacation. I will see him in León where some of his family lives.
Friday, November 16
Free day. We went on pilgrimage to Our Lady of Zapopán, a Marian sanctuary with a splendid basilica.
Saturday, November 17
Solemn High Mass and 33 Confirmations. Then a small meal for all on the patio in front of the church. We are in Mexico, and the religious persecution has left its mark. Our chapel and school that are across the road from the priory are not visible and look more like some sort of a factory. Once you go through the little door, the school and the chapel behind it are a very pleasant sight.
At the end of the day, we leave for León. Fr. Motta is driving me and will return tonight. About a two-and-a-half-hour drive through very pleasant countryside. Mexico is a beautiful country!
Sunday, November 18
Solemn High Mass and Confirmations. 43 new soldiers of Christ were prepared in this stronghold of Christianidad (“Christianity”). Near León is a great statue of Christ the King, the Jubilete. Fr. Jimenez is prior and Fr. Fallarcuna is his collaborator. There are only two of them, but since Fr. Guiscafré was there we were be able to have a Solemn High Mass.
In the evening I shared a very pleasant meal with the Guiscafré family. Father’s dad was there, too. He is very old, but still of sound mind. He has Parkinson’s disease. He asked me questions using his tablet, because he can no longer speak.
Monday, November 19
Flight to Mexico City. And then, free day… from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, November 20
I boarded another plane, this time for the south of the country, Oaxaca, where Fr. Rodrigo Fernandez, from San Domingo, picked me up. He is stationed at the priory of Orizaba. He drove me to Tlaxiaco. This city is “famous” in the Traditional circles in Mexico. When Archbishop Lefebvre visited in 1981, the faithful gave him the keys to the church they were in at the time. There is only one left… It is one of the memorable chapters of our apostolate in Mexico.
Wednesday, November 21
Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The day’s schedule: 27 Confirmations and a High Mass. We had to start a little late because the faithful from Oaxaca who were coming for Confirmations were blocked by a barrage on the way.
A meal for all afterwards in the old wooden chapel next to the church. The photo shows the massive construction. It dates back not to the Middle Ages, but to the beginning of the 20th century. The frequent earthquakes make it necessary to have extremely solid constructions. And yet, last year’s terrible earthquake displaced the cupola… Fr. Rodrigo, who was present at the time, described the earthquake as the movement you feel on horseback. The table and books were bouncing 20 inches off the ground… A pretty spirited horse!
In the evening, we looked at old pictures. I relived the past, with Archbishop Lefebvre’s visit in 1981, when he confirmed no less than 815 souls in three days! The pictures are moving. They go back to the beginning of our apostolate in Mexico. With the priests at the time, who took turns going every month to keep up the Faith in this far-off region of Mexico. With Zapotiltic and Orizava, that was where our apostolate began. Frs. Babinet, Faure, and Ramon Angles were the first to venture out here and keep the flame alive in these Mexican hearts.
Thursday, November 22
It’s the feast of St. Cecilia. After celebrating Holy Mass and eating a large meal, we were off… with a problem: the passage was still being blocked by the villagers of Tlaxiaco protesting against an injustice; apparently the governor promised a hospital and did not keep his promises… Our host, Mr. Cisneros Montes, spoke with them, and they ended up letting us through. After leaving the “Heroica Ciudad de Tlaxiaco” (“the heroic city of Tlaxiaco”) at 10:00 a.m., we arrived at the priory of Orizaba at 6:00 p.m. The countryside we drove through was magnificent! The gentle hills of the province of Oaxaca, then the mountains covered with a forest of cactuses… A very wild and particularly beautiful region.
We then entered the province of Puebla and the very interesting city of Tehuacan, famous for its onyx, among other things. One of our faithful from the very earliest days, Mr. Flores, met us for a meal in a local restaurant. He told us more of the story of the Society’s early days in the region, for he drove Frs. Babinet, Faure, Ramon Anglès all the way to Tlaxiaco from Zapotiltic. He is a mine of memories!
We also passed right by the Pico de Orizaba, the highest mountain in Mexico, and the 3rd highest in North America, with a volcano of over 18,000 feet! It rises over the city of Orizaba where our priory is located. It is often covered by clouds, for the warm air from the sea condenses with the cold and the altitude. We drove down from the plateau of Mexico that is about 6500 feet high to the altitude of Orizaba, about 4000 feet high, and this descent is almost always foggy.
All the priests of the priory were there: Frs. León and Gensbittel, and the prior, Fr Magagna, and Fr. Rodrigo who accompanied me.
Friday, November 23
Confirmations and Mass at the priory of Orizaba. This priory is very pleasant with its cloister that allows the priests to have a life cut off from contact with the faithful. It has two parts. On one side, there is the cloister with the priests’ rooms and the common rooms, and on the other side is the chapel with bedrooms and a conference room for retreats. This part of the priory also has a large yard where retreatants can take walks. It is too bad that almost all the fruit trees were cut down to leave room for a lawn. But they assure me new trees will be planted…
Confirmations were at 2:00 p.m. so the faithful from Puebla could have time to come. After the Confirmations was the Solemn High Mass in honor of the Holy Ghost. The chapel was full, overflowing. The prior told me that on normal Sundays, about 120 people assist at the Holy Office. Afterwards, we all shared a meal in the shade.
Saturday, November 24
We began the day with a little expedition to the Sierra Negra, the 5th highest peak of Mexico at an altitude of 18,000 feet, right next to the Pico de Orizaba. At the top is an astronomic observatory. A splendid view over Mexico, its plains and its volcanic peaks! Fr. Gensbittel came with me, for he services the chapel in Puebla.
After our climb, we went to Puebla, to visit the church that is being built and its complex that is already being used as a school. It is a large building and shows Mexico’s vitality!
A young member of the Guiscafré family drove me to Mexico City, entering from the north of the city in order to arrive more directly at our priory. We drove right by the volcano Malinche instead of taking the highway that cuts between the Popcateptl and the Itzaccihuatl on one side and the volcano Tlaloc on the other. A gorgeous view on either side. We drove by the pyramids of Teotihuacan, so imposing with their enormous dimensions, and witnesses of the terrible Aztec religion.
Sunday, November 25
Last Sunday of the year. Solemn High Mass at the Minimas Sisters’, just south of the District House. The sisters received us with great pomp and the habitual shower of rose petals! The fellow priests take care of 8:00 a.m. Mass here and the three Masses in the city.
In the afternoon, I gave a report of my visit to the District Superior and we had a very interesting discussion on the particular characteristics of the apostolate in Mexico and the ways our fellow priests work.
In the evening, a visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas, to entrust her with our apostolate in this beautiful country, in all the Americas, and, of course, to implore her protection for our dear Society.
- Bishop Bernard Fellay