April 1, 2012
A Meeting with Trique from Oaxaca
Three months ago I wrote about celebrating Mass on Nov. 12 for the Trique indigenous community in Madera. On March 11, I met with thirty men to learn a little more of their experience of Catholicism. As they told of their experience of Catholic life in their village and the story of migration that for many began years ago when they left their homes and families, I began to learn of faith passed on without benefit of the presence of priests and the celebration of sacraments in their lives.
Imagine living in a community where you only see a priest two or three times a year when the priest comes to celebrate Mass for the feasts of the village. The village of these men is San Martin Caballero (St. Martin of Tours). Their village feast is his feast day, Nov. 11. It is the religious feast particular to their community. While most of the men were baptized, few have received other sacraments. Religious practice was preserved in chapels and corners of their homes where they have their various “santitos”. Prayer was devotional with little opportunity to participate in Mass.
The only school in the area was a primaria, up to sixth grade. The language of the community is Trique, so few would have been able to read Spanish or understand it well. Catholicism was preserved principally in devotions to the saints and the celebration of fiestas. In their migration over the years their primary reminder of faith of their families comes in the celebration of the feast of San Martin Caballero.
Several expressed a desire to know more of their own heritage of faith. One man said, “We preserve the customs of our parents, yet we do not know the origin of the customs so that we can explain them to our children.”
We need to honor their faith and be slow to judge. Migration is a journey that isolates people and can strip them of their dignity. The Trique community is striving to take root in our community, but no one knows when they may need to move on for work or for the political realities of this country. Evangelization of the Trique community and other people on the move needs solid analysis of the situation and plans of action based in love and respect for the people of a Catholic culture that is marked by migration and insecurity.
Two workshops coming up on April 28 & 29
The Catholic Migrant Farmworker Network will hold a regional training in Hinkley, CA, on Saturday, April 28
from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Guadalupe Center. Rev. Eleazar Lopez from Oaxaca, Mexico, will be the presenter. He will address ministry with migrants and their particular needs. He will address particular needs of working with people from indigenous communities of Mexico.
On Sunday, April 29
, Rev. Eleazar Lopez will speak at the regular meeting of the Campesino Ministry volunteers at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Fresno.
Rev. Michael McAndrew, C.Ss.R.
Multicultural and Campesino Coordinator