father paul francis walsh

Let us introduce you to Father Paul Francis Walsh C.S.B.

“It is a very exciting time to be a Basilian…”

In 1961, after nearly thirty years of working among Mexican migrant workers south and west of Houston, Texas, the Basilian Fathers took the next logical step – they went to Mexico. At a time when Pope John XXIII was encouraging religous communities and dioceses to send people to Latin America, the Basilian Fathers took over a rural parish on the outskirts of Mexico City, San Juan Crisóstomo. It became the first of a number of parishes in which Basilians have served in Mexico, within the Archdioceses of Mexico and Xalapa as well as the diocese of Tehuacan, Puebla.

The focus of our ministry in Mexico has been parish life and especially family life. Early on in the 1960’s working with the Violeta Sisters, we developed a new form of catechesis, the Catequesis Familiar, which combined our traditional emphasis on education with our apostolate among poor families in Mexico City and the diocese of Tehuacan.

In 1961, after nearly thirty years of working among Mexican migrant workers south and west of Houston, Texas, the Basilian Fathers took the next logical step – they went to Mexico. At a time when Pope John XXIII was encouraging religous communities and dioceses to send people to Latin America, the Basilian Fathers took over a rural parish on the outskirts of Mexico City, San Juan Crisóstomo. It became the first of a number of parishes in which Basilians have served in Mexico, within the Archdioceses of Mexico and Xalapa as well as the diocese of Tehuacan, Puebla.

The focus of our ministry in Mexico has been parish life and especially family life. Early on in the 1960’s working with the Violeta Sisters, we developed a new form of catechesis, the Catequesis Familiar, which combined our traditional emphasis on education with our apostolate among poor families in Mexico City and the diocese of Tehuacan.

The heart of this catechesis involved forming not only children and young people but also their families so that parents would teach their own children the faith and so develop a deeper and better grasp of their own faith. Though no longer directly involved in this ministry, the Basilian Fathers rejoice in how this ministry continues to touch the lives of families throughout Mexico, especially where the Violetas are involved.

The focus of our ministry in Mexico has been parish life and especially family life. Early on in the 1960’s working with the Violeta Sisters, we developed a new form of catechesis, the Catequesis Familiar, which combined our traditional emphasis on education with our apostolate among poor families in Mexico City and the diocese of Tehuacan. The heart of this catechesis involved forming not only children and young people but also their families so that parents would teach their own children the faith and so develop a deeper and better grasp of their own faith. Though no longer directly involved in this ministry, the Basilian Fathers rejoice in how this ministry continues to touch the lives of families throughout Mexico, especially where the Violetas are involved.

In most of the parishes where we have worked, we have taken over poor parishes, built them up and given them over to dioceses to continue the ministry. We did this first in San Juan Crisóstomo and the nearby parish of Jesús Obrero (Jesus the Worker) within Mexico City. We have also done this in a working class parish in Xalapa as well as the rural parish of Caltapec in the diocese of Tehuacan. However, there is one parish where we have continued working for almost forty years: San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence) in Tehuacan. We first started serving at San Lorenzo when it was a chapel of Divino Salvador in the 1970’s. In 1987 it became a parish in its own right, and the Basilian Fathers were entrusted with it. We have served there ever since.

San Lorenzo is currently our only apostolate in Mexico (not including our houses of formation – the novitiate and the scholasticate), however it has done much to transform the neighborhoods or colonias in which we find ourselves as well as the city and diocese of Tehuacan. Located on the periphery of the city, San Lorenzo has been a major player in building up that part of the city. Donations from benefactors have helped us bring outreach to the poor, provide workshops and courses to help families to overcome the deterioration caused by drug abuse and violence, and probably most importantly, provide young people with bursaries so that they can continue their education. Every year we are able to help 15 to 20 young people finish college and find work. Those who remember Tehuacan in the seventies know what kind of transformation this has helped bring to this small city and our colonias.

The future of the Basilian Fathers also looks very promising. Currently, there are four young scholastics – three of whom are studying theology and one philosophy. We have also developed a vocations program and have begun to see the fruits of that ministry as half a dozen young men are exploring the possibility of a vocation with us. God willing, in the next few years, we will have ordinations and new priests – and the need to explore new horizons for ministry within Mexico. It is an exciting time to be a Basilian in Mexico.

Sincerely,
Father Walsh