The Missions: San Francisco and San José

Unless the mission is oriented by charity, that is, unless it springs from a profound act of divine love, it risks being reduced to mere philanthropic and social activity...Consequently, being missionaries means loving God with all one's heart, even to the point, if necessary, of dying for him. - Pope Benedict XVI

Spanish Moss Xmas Tree

Yes, the scenes of Christmas are a little different down here, but with some unseasonable rains the temperature is quite cool in the mornings (sweater or jacket weather) and being the shortest day of the year, dark. So, I will say that while riding the motorcycle all bundled up and passing a lighted Christmas Tree in the dark gives me a tangible sense of Nativity ambiance.

My last trip to the Loma afforded me my first opportunity to baptize a child Eduviges, or rendered in English, Hedwig. When I met the mother the end of November she was nursing her 4 week old baby and still didn’t have a name. So, I suggested that we let the stars decide. Which date was she born? I asked. When she responded October 16 she was in luck because it happened to be the feast of two female saints, Santa Eduviges or Santa Margarita. Apparently, Hedwig is the more popular name, the same day Fr. Gee boasted of baptizing a Hedwig in his parish. So at my Baptism, the sad reality of the break down of the family was comically manifest. Paper work is always a task in any culture, but in the mountains there are a lot of approximations filled in the blanks. In following the routine procedures of recording names, the father’s name is asked. What might be a sensitive subject for some young unmarried women doesn’t seem to carry the same discomfort in the Loma. Broadcast loudly across the chapel and the community of houses outside the window was the question, Hey! What was the name of that guy? All the girl or the community at large could come up with was a nickname. I did get a sense from a few faces that this was a laughably sad situation, but they seemed to have given up on the shame of it all long ago.

You all may be burned out on Christmas by the time you read this, but if anyone is still in the giving spirit, I’m looking to raise $2,500 to fix my leaking church and parish center roofs. All one needs do to make sure that 100% of a donation goes to this project is write the check to the Diocese of Arlington and include a letter stating that this is for the roof of San José parish, Pedro Santana.


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