Basilian Scholastics Come Together in Prayer, Learning, and Recreation at Third Gathering

Basilian scholastics from Colombia, Mexico, and the United States came together in prayer, learning, and recreation at the Tercer Encuentro de Escolasticos Basilianos or the Third Encounter of the Basilian Scholastics. From June 13-21, thirteen scholastics and their formators gathered at the seminary in Tehuacán, Mexico.

Father George Smith, CSB welcomed the guests with an address that highlighted how they are called to be priests who are educators and this can occur in many different forms. The scholastics were joined by Father Roberto Rojas, CSB, the Pastor of the Basilian Parish of San Lorenzo in Tehuacán, who spoke about the challenges faced by the people the Basilians serve in the city. He also spoke about the work that the Basilians do in Tehuacán, which includes the operation of a Human Development Centre that provides counselling and other assistance programs to people in the community.

The retreat was led by Fathers Paul English, CSB and John Huber, CSB, and the theme was “the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary”, with a special emphasis on how meditating on these mysteries can breathe life into Basilian religious life and priesthood. During the retreat, the scholastics were privileged to have Monseñor Rodrigo Aguilar Martinez, the Bishop of Tehuacán, join them for Mass. The Basilians who serve in Mexico were also in attendance.

At the conclusion of the retreat, the scholastics made a pastoral visit to the Parish of San Lorenzo and toured the many different chapels that comprise the Parish, the Parish offices, and the Basilian Human Development Centre. The tour concluded at the Church of San Lorenzo, where the scholastics were able to see both the old mission style church and the new church, which is under construction. Even though work is not yet finished, the Parish is currently celebrating Mass in the new building. The scholastics joined in the celebration of the Mass of Confirmation at San Lorenzo. During this Mass, 231 young people were sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Monseñor Rodrigo was assisted in administering the Sacrament of Confirmation by Fathers Alberto Ferrara, CSB, Juan Carlos Rojas, CSB, and Paul Walsh, CSB. The scholastics spent the night with families in the Parish to experience firsthand how the parishioners live.

On Monday, the scholastics journeyed to the Jardín Botánico Helia Bravo Hollis, a large cactus preserve on the outskirts of the town of Zapotitlan Salinas. After hiking through the gardens, Father David Bittner, CSB, director of scholastics in the United States, celebrated Mass in the park, with the gardens creating a beautiful backdrop. After dinner, the scholastics in Mexico demonstrated their traditional Christmas celebration of Las Posadas to all present, even bringing a piñata to create the full experience. The evening continued with a fogata or campfire, where the scholastics were able to share and learn about the different cultures represented.

Tuesday morning began with Mass in the park, celebrated by Father Paul Walsh, CSB, director of scholastics in Mexico. The scholastics had time for recreation, when they were able to experience the Balneario San Lorenzo, the public swimming pools near the Parish.

Before leaving, the scholastics visited the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico, where Father Robert Barringer, CSB, director of scholastics in Colombia, celebrated Mass in one of the private chapels at the Basilica.

The scholastics would like to thank all those who made the Encuentro possible, including Father Rene Espejel, CSB, for coordinating the logistics; Fathers Paul English, CSB, John Huber, CSB, and Rafael Lopera, CSB, for their wisdom and guidance over the course of the retreat; Father George Smith, CSB and members of the General Council for their leadership and work to make the gathering a reality; as well as the parishioners who prepared the meals and the families who graciously opened their homes to the scholastics.

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