December 21, 2010, the Texas Tropical Trail Region (TTTR) hosted its monthly meeting in Kingsville— for me, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity— that we wouldn’t have missed for anything, not even the high fever I’d been running since the night before.
A real saint from South Texas?
After lunch we will visit the only convent in Kingsville/Kleberg County, the Convent of the Missionary Daughters of the Most Pure Virgin Mary, founded in 1916 by the late Mother Julia Navarrete Guerrero.
Mother Julia was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 1881, and joined the church at 19. She left her home at the height of the Mexican Revolution when, in some areas, it was forbidden to celebrate Mass. At the request of her home diocese, she came to Texas and started her ministry in a one-room house on Richard Avenue that was purchased from King Ranch founder, Richard King.
Her mission was to educate the children and minister to the adults. Mother Julia died in 1974 at the age of 93.
In 2004, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Mother Julia venerable, the second of four steps on the way to sainthood. She was nominated for the honor by her holy order, which is based in Mexico, though much of her work was in Kingsville (Nancy Deviney, TTTR Kingsville Partner Event, December 2010).
A worthwhile cause
During lunch guest speaker Maggie Salinas, charter member of the Kleberg County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of Kingsville’s Historical Development Board, shared the story behind her lifelong commitment to help the Missionary Daughters of the Most Pure Virgin Mary (MDPVM) preserve the convent founded by the Venerable Mother Julia Navarrete.
So, after lunch, we drove to 408 East Richard Avenue where Sister Maxie shared the history of her religious order and invited us into the newly renovated chapel.
The rest of the story
The best part of the tour for Steven and me was when everyone else departed for the presentation at the King Ranch Museum, and we had Sister Maxie all to ourselves.
I told Sister that, from the time we’d read about the day’s upcoming events, our anticipation had crescendoed at the prospect of not only seeing the chapel, but also learning all we could about a saint in waiting in our own South Texas community.
Sister Maxie spoke glowingly and compassionately about Mother Julia’s numerous accomplishments— founding their Order and establishing more than forty-five convents in Mexico and the United States— and the Venerable Mother’s long, terrible illness, respectively.
Sister Maxie nursed Mother Julia through the ordeal and was greatly inspired by the Venerable Mother’s spirituality and resilience. The doctors would prescribe all the wrong treatments, seriously compounding her physical suffering; but Mother Julia never complained. Instead, she bore the pain with patience and resolve until her death.
Mother Julia’s legacy
The number of nuns at the old convent has dwindled due to age and illness, so Sister Maxie lovingly takes care of all of them as she did Mother Julia. She also juggles a busy schedule that includes driving the Sisters to their doctors’ appointments and managing countless obligations that encompass both the restoration of the original schoolhouse that has been moved across from the chapel and the preservation of the old convent.
Thanks to community supporters like Maggie who have embraced Mother Julia’s legacy, the Missionary Daughters of the Most Pure Virgin Mary can dedicate themselves to more divine aspirations— “the treasure of [Mother Julia’s] spirituality and a profound devotion to the Holy Spirit, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and to the most Pure Virgin Mary” (MDPVM, 1983)— while others labor to prepare for the big day ahead.
Of course, canonization is a lengthy process which can take decades; so everyone familiar with Mother Julia is spreading the word. If you pray for her intercession, as did the gardener and his wife on behalf of their daughter, please report favors granted to the Missionary Daughters. (Refer to the prayer card above.)
Being so in awe of holy relics, I felt specially privileged to have been invited to touch— and will always remember— that very personal connection to Mother Julia. But I was beyond moved to have been encouraged to kiss the crucifix and share in the love of Mother Julia’s congregation.
And I’m doing my part to share the story so that the Venerable Julia Navarrete becomes a saint in my lifetime.
Think of it. A saint from our culture, our time, our very own South Texas community.
Links of interest… Capia de la Madre Julia nuevo lugar para oración (p. 6)… Community celebrates Mother Julia jubilee… In memoriam: Sister María Del Carmen Villalpando (obituary)… Maggie Salinas: For Kingsville woman, helping others “is a gift we should all share” / TX story project… Missionary Daughters (MDPVM)… Mother Julia’s Good Samaritan Shop (open 1st & 2nd Saturday; facebook)… Museum to honor Kingsville’s Mother Julia (10.26.15)… Praying to the saints: Christian practice / gracious advocates / heavenly intercessors / intercessory prayer / litanies / novenas (221) / why pray to the saints… Sainthood: 87 new causes for sainthood / becoming a saint (five steps – how – models – process – rules – what is – what makes) / John Paul’s beatification… Sister Maria Elena Casillas (more)… Sister Maxima Cruz: A life of devotion (Sister Maxi; pp. 22-24)… South Texas Catholic… St. Martin of Tours Parish: 100 years as a faith community / diocese parish finder / facebook… TX Tropical Trail Region (more; Tropical Traveler, p. 1)… Venerable Julia Navarrete: about (facebook – YouTube) / celebrating 100th anniversary / “Christmas miracle” planned / decrees of the congregation for sainthood causes / gardener’s miracle / Julia of the Thorns of the Sacred Heart / quote…
WP posts… Holy relics… Honoring Joselito… Multicultural Mass… Sacred Heart Church… Saturday evening Mass… Solano, Solanus, Solani… Then and now… Today’s Beatitudes… Unexpected detours… Vattmann church… Vattmann Thanksgiving… Venerable Margaret
Filed under: call of service, holy relics, Venerable Julia Navarrete | Tagged: building community, God's master plan, Missionary Daughters' Solemn Place of Prayer-Kingsville TX, overcoming adversity, TX Tropical Trail Region |