MEXICO INTERNATIONAL GROUP
The Mexico International Group presently consists of 23 members; 16 of them are working in Mexico and are made up of 10 different nationalities (Poland, France, Nigeria, Angola, Canada, USA, Vietnam, Portugal, Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico). Three Mexicans are working outside the country (in Mozambique and Paraguay) and we have five young Mexicans in formation, three of whom have made their first profession.
We are engaged in pastoral responsibilities in four dioceses: 5 parishes in which the majority of the population is Indian (from four different ethnic groups according to their geographical situation) and two other parishes in poor urban areas (one in Tampico, an important sea port, and the other in the capital of the country, Mexico City). In all our parishes we try to create a responsible laity who will take charge of animation of the basic Christian communities, while opening them up to social questions. In the country parishes with the Indians, we try to promote the local culture in the liturgy, cetechesis, popular religiosity and in the organization of these small communities. We also make efforts to promote awareness of issues of Justice and Peace. The great changes in the life of these communities and Indian families brought about by the globalization of the economy and the culture, makes this work fragile and uncertain, because it requires a careful pastoral approach.
At Tampico, we run a factory making devotional candles which gives useful temporary employment to people with AIDS, or to others who accompany their family members to the hospital and who do not have the financial means to meet all the costs of treatment. The great majority of these come from the countryside and are from the Indian communities. The profits from the sale of candles help to pay the medical bills and to pay the salaries of the three permanent workers employed there. The confrere who initiated and set up this project six years ago, has been recalled to his Province, so another Spiritan will replace him next year.
In total there are seven Spiritan communities which live out together the different apostolic projects of our group. No Spiritan lives alone, except for short terms during illness or while another community member is on holiday.
A characteristic of this group is that all the Spiritans working in Mexico meet every month. Some meetings are more relaxed (during summer for example) while others are connected to the celebration of Pentecost, the commemoration of the deceased confreres who have worked in Mexico which is held in November, and at the end of the year. Other meetings, for example after Easter and at other times, are more for reflection and information; then there is the annual four-day retreat. These monthly meetings, planned at the beginning of each year, are a valuable fraternal support for the confreres, for the newly-arrived members (five members of the group have been present in the country for less than three years); they are also an antidote to the individualism which has marked the history of this group from the beginning thirty six years ago and which remains a great temptation especially in times of discouragement, doubt and disagreements with confreres or the whole group. The very international character of our group and the great diversity of the formation experienced by its members, means that we do not have the same conception of the Spiritan identity, the same experience of the Church and the same theological outlook. These meetings therefore help us to achieve a fraternal unity despite what might divide us or create a turning in on oneself in the search for a certain comfort in our own ideas. They are the principal forum for the exercise of leadership by the Superior of the Group, apart from the Council meetings and personal contact with each confrere.
It is worth noting that many confreres have received a clear task in the animation of the group: First Assistant, bursar, formator, councilor, accompaniers for the young confreres in their first years of missionary life (7 confreres have been in the country less than six years), member of the team producing the information bulletin, member of the vocations team. All have responded generously to the invitation made to them and carry out these tasks on top of their pastoral commitments.
The Superior of the Mexico Group has always attended the meetings of the Major Superiors of North America and the Caribbean. Thus he has been able to take part in the numerous projects (novitiates in Trinidad &Tobago, then in Puerto Rico; many students from US West or the Puerto Rico Foundation have done their missionary placement in Mexico and young Haitians have come to learn the language before going to the novitiate in Puerto Rico
.). The Mexico Group has also benefited from a financial solidarity which helps the members to live at a reasonable level. We also have good contact with the circumscriptions of Latin America (UCAL) in the area of formation because the young Mexicans do their novitiate now in Paraguay and our formator attends the annual meetings of the Latin American formators.
Following on our Easter 2007 meeting, in the presence of members of the Generalate team who were on visitation, we decided that we would hold a chapter in 2009 for all Spiritan members of the group the first to be held in the circumscription. We hope that this chapter will help us to understand better the reasons for our presence in Mexico and the challenges this presents, to help us integrate new members into the common project of the group and to map out a vision for the future because new challenges are being added to the usual ones. I am referring here to the new challenges raised by globalization many observers see Mexico as a test-case in the relations between North and South; the constant challenges remain: stability of the group it has been very unstable in terms of personnel from the beginning individualism, the call to the Spiritan missionary vocation, initial formation, financial self-sufficiency. We are not expecting miracles, to be sure, but we have come to see that the preparation of a chapter creates an excellent group dynamic and it will be a point of reference for the confreres because, once concluded, it will have to be implemented by the same group.