Wednesday, February 6, 2013
A Seminarian Experiences MACC
For my first ever blog post, I thought I would reflect briefly on my experience of the last two weeks at the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, Texas.
As part of our formation, all Second Theology seminarians at St. Meinrad are required to attend the “Hispanic Ministry in the 21st Century” program, a two week course offered after Christmas break, in between Fall and Spring semesters. I was a bit unsure of myself when I arrived, but settled in quickly after being greeted by one of my Archdiocese of Louisville brothers, who has returned to seminary after some time out for additional discernment. It was comforting to see his smiling face as I started to unload my car.
It was an intense two weeks, including six hours of classes every day, as well as daily mass and communal morning and evening prayer. We covered everything from Hispanic culture and spirituality, to immigration issues and pastoral care. We concluded with a little fiesta, and an awesome performance from a local Mariachi band, that totally “Rocked the MACC!” It was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun. I feel closer to my seminary brothers, and closer to Hispanic faith and culture. It was time well spent.
One of the most profound insights for me came during our three-day trip down to the border territory near McAllen. We stayed at the hotel at the Basilica Shrine of the Virgen de San Juan del Valle, spent some time with Fr. Amador Garza (a St. Meinrad alumnus) and attended the Vigil Mass for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. It was a wonderful example of the Church embracing a variety of cultures, as the Basilica had a Mariachi band providing liturgical music. Though our Mass was in English, the cultural influence was nonetheless palpable; it was electric. One of the most beautiful moments for me was the late arrival of an elderly Hispanic couple of modest means, who came all the way down to the front row, and managed to get settled in just in time for the Eucharistic prayer. They were meagerly dressed, and clung to each other as they knelt for the consecration. I couldn’t help but think of the Epistle of James, which reminds us that, “if a man with gold rings on his fingers and fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Sit here, please,’ while you say to the poor one, ‘Stand there,’ or ‘Sit at my feet,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs?” Though they were poor, their humble faith and sincere piety provided an example for even the richest among us.
Another powerful experience came when we visited Las Milpas, one of las Colonias near the border, and met some of the struggling immigrants who are trying to build better lives for themselves in their newly adopted country. I will offer some thoughts from that day on my next post.
El Senor este con ustedes (I hope I have that right),