Etched in time

Our first look inside San Agustin Cathedral, September 15, 2009, was made possible by the priest exiting the side door on his way to the dieciséis de septiembre celebration at the plaza across the street.  “You can visit only until the cleaning is done, but you’re welcome to return for noon Mass tomorrow if you like.”

December 18, 2017

Having waited too long, we returned to Laredo for the Texas Tropical Trail monthly partner event and, again, stayed at La Posada near the cathedral so we could finally make it to noon Mass, enjoy a good while within, and take photos to my heart’s content.

                

            

            

            

                

December 19, 2017

Walking back to the hotel from our afternoon meeting at the museum provided backside views of the cathedral.  I could hardly wait to spend time at the historic sacred space.

            

            

December 20, 2017

From the groundskeepers to the hotel workers to the people on the street by the plaza, everyone was all smiles.  Warm sunshine had overtaken the cold and the rain from previous days.  Again and again, we heard grateful expressions: “What a beautiful day!”  “We really needed this!”  “It’d been too long since we’d last seen the sun!”  “Enjoy your day!”

Churchyard observations

Steven drove us to the cathedral, since we’d agreed to leave Laredo from there for his meeting in San Benito that afternoon.  We were about ten or fifteen minutes early, so I had time to explore the churchyard and observe not just the birds, but also the people gathered about waiting for the sacristan to unlock the front doors.

That’s when I noticed a diminutive, humble man in day laborer attire.  He sat pensively, almost invisibly, clutching a small, rather worn brown paper sack by the fence under the oak tree.  His forlorn look made my heart ache!  Had he traveled far to come to church? I wondered.  Is that why he’d packed a little something to eat along the way?

God-filled moments

When the sacristan opened the cathedral’s doors, we were the first to enter.  Standing just two feet within but allowing enough space for others to walk through, I acclimated to the tiny vestibule before stepping into the nave.  And, as I turned to look back outside before the sacristan closed the door, I saw the little man with the heaviness of the world on his shoulders.

“Good morning!” I smiled.  “¡Buenos días!”

The khaki-clad man, pained to be awakened from his self-imposed (prayerful) trance, glanced at me, uttered an almost inaudible response, and shuffled head down toward the inner doors.

As I continued greeting others arriving for noon Mass, I wondered if the small man had missed his chance to work with the able-bodied day laborers awaiting rides across the street from the cathedral.  How I longed to ease his pain!  But all I could do was entrust him to God.

Jesus in repose

The cathedral was still somewhat dark as I took photos in the back of the church, but I knew my way around.  Jesus was waiting in the alcove by the confessionals on the left.  I’d photographed him previously as the baby in the glass-and-gold enclosure and also as the adult in repose on the stone slab below the painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

With my third eye leading the way, my peripheral vision caught sight of someone bent ever so gently, ever so faithfully, with hands lovingly placed on Jesus’s legs and feet.  I didn’t want to move!  I didn’t want to intrude!  I’d unknowingly walked into a very private moment and didn’t know what to do.

Dear God, please, add my prayers to his.  Let me not be an impediment.

I didn’t want to disturb the person whom I sensed was quite distraught, so I took photos ever so quietly.  And, when the person sat up, I saw the little man in wrinkled clothing.

He said nothing and mostly was oblivious of me.  He hadn’t been startled, so his silence came across more as acceptance than discomfort.  Yet I’d walked into such an intimate scene that I couldn’t just ignore it.

Lowering my Coolpix for a few moments, I softly greeted the man and spoke to him in Spanish.  “Look how beautiful Jesus is with Our Lady keeping a watchful eye on him from above.  She’s never far from those she loves.”  Then, as I photographed Jesus, the downtrodden man spoke to me in littles.

I reciprocated in calm, even tones, voicing encouragement while praying within.

Dear God, please, what can I do to help?  Don’t let this moment pass without our interceding on his behalf. 

I wanted to do something for the man but had only my camera in hand.

Etched in time

Finally, Steven came into view.  With all the dignity and friendship I could muster to help the man feel valued, I introduced them to each other.  Then, as naturally as possible in English, I briefly shared the man’s story with Steven who, for reasons I couldn’t fathom, stepped away and out of sight.

Had Steven not heard the plea in my voice?  Had he not intuited my message?  I’d been mentally dialoguing in three directions, and I was concerned.  I seldom carry money, so I had no means of assisting the man— not that he’d even asked— but I wasn’t giving up!

Once our talking and my photo taking reached the perfect level of mutual trust and understanding, I stepped out of the alcove hoping to share my desire for Steven to intervene somehow and—

Surprise! 

The moment we looked at each other, Steven, trying hard to contain his emotions, extended his hand for me to take his offering.

“Thank you,” I whispered, and walked back to the disconsolate man.

Bending close I placed my hand in his, talked a little more, wished him and his family a merry Christmas, smiled, and walked away.  The man had no idea what I’d pressed into his hand, and I didn’t wait for him to find out.  But, moving about taking photos, my peripheral vision did notice that he sat gazing at both Jesus and Our Lady for a very long time before departing.

A sweet memory etched in time, God answered our heartfelt prayers that day.

           

          

         

                

               

               

                  

                  

      

   

                

                

                

               

                

                

                

         

September 15, 2009

                

Prayers from St. Augustine

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.  Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.  Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, so that I love only what is holy.  Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.  Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.  Amen.

Give me yourself, O my God; give yourself to me.  Behold I love you and, if my love is too weak a thing, grant me to love you more strongly.  I cannot measure my love to know how much it falls short of being sufficient, but let my soul hasten to your embrace and never be turned away until it is hidden in the secret shelter of your presence.  This only do I know: That it is not good for me when you are not with me, when you are only outside me.  I want you in my very self.  All the plenty in the world which is not my God is utter want.  Amen.

Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know you and desire nothing save only you.  Let me hate myself and love you.  Let me do everything for the sake of you.  Let me humble myself and exalt you.  Let me think of nothing except you.  Let me die to myself and live in you.  Let me accept whatever happens as from you.  Let me banish self and follow you and ever desire to follow you.  Let me fly from myself and take refuge in you that I may deserve to be defended by you.  Let me fear for myself, let me fear you, and let me be among those who are chosen by you.  Let me distrust myself and put my trust in you.  Let me be willing to obey for the sake of you.  Let me cling to nothing save only to you and let me be poor because of you.  Look upon me that I may love you.  Call me that I may see you and forever enjoy you.  Amen.

                       

Quotes from St. Augustine

Do you wish to rise?  Begin by descending.  You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds?  Lay first the foundation of humility.

Hope has two beautiful daughters.  Their names are Anger and Courage— anger at the way things are and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are (Attributed but unverified).

What does love look like?  It has the hands to help others.  It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.  It has eyes to see misery and want.  It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.  That is what love looks like.

You aspire to great things?  Begin with little ones.

February 28, 2018

Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God’s heart.  You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips, but with your heart.  In fact, on certain occasions, you should only speak to him with your heart (St. Pio).

Links of interest…  Augustine of Hippo: apostolic letter (JPII) / architect of the Middle Agesauthor / bishop & doctor / book on prayer / commentary on the Sermon on the Mountconfessions (quotes) / doctor of grace (more) / factsfor all seasons /  memorial (Aug 28) / on the Beatitudes / prayers / philosophy / prodigal son / quotesraised to new life / seeking God / son of tearsthinking faith…  dieciséis de septiembre…  Burial slab of Jesus found in Jerusalem (limestone piece of rock / uncovered)…  Laredo:  churches / La Posada Hotel / museumstours (events – heritage walking tour)…  Padre Pio’s words of faith…  San Agustin: cathedral (diocesan page – facebook – history –  Mass times) / historic district / obispo (bishop) / restoration (new renderings of project)…  TX Tropical Trail Region

WP posts…  Historic nuggets…  Persistence…  St. Austin Church…  St. Monica…  Sweet Jesus

Sacred Heart Church

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Yesterday I spent the day at the county courthouse.  Having been assigned to a jury panel on the eighth floor, I took the elevator with mixed anticipation.

Stepping onto the hallway, I turned left and walked to the window.  I wanted to see the roof of the cathedral a few blocks away.  Satisfied, I walked to the opposite end of the hallway nearer the courtroom where I’d be most of the day.  Looking out the window from there, I spotted another beautiful church top and asked, “Does anyone know the name of that church?” but got no response.

After lunch, one of the jurors spoke to me from across the narrow hallway.  “Remember you asked about that church this morning?  It’s Sacred Heart on Comanche Street.”

I smilingly thanked him and decided that, no matter what time we were dismissed, I’d stop by for a visit before heading home.

At the church

SHC31510-45I parked on the side street away from the front entrance.  A woman and her son were getting into their vehicle, so I hurried over to ask if the church was open.

“Unfortunately, the church is locked.  These are different times… not safe to keep churches open at all hours.  But, if you walk in through that gate and through that door,” she said, pointing the way, “you’ll find the chapel.  That’s where we often come to pray.”

“Thank you!”

She looked on until I opened the door to the chapel.

I’d waited six long hours to get there, but I’d been ready since the night before when I’d placed my Coolpix in my tote bag.

Purposeful visit

SHC31510-5Walking into the darkened chapel, I noticed the woman writing in the book of petitions.  She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she never once looked up to see anyone enter.  The man, too, was deeply in prayer.  I did my best not to disturb them, although I did meet the woman, Esmeralda, afterwards when she asked why I was taking photos.

We talked at length about prayer, faith, petitions and praise, and why she visits the chapel.

“I like to be spontaneous.  This morning I got the notion to come here after my doctor’s visit this afternoon, so here I am.”  Esmeralda enjoys the chapel’s quiet peacefulness before returning to her hometown.

“I think God planted that thought in both of us today,” I enthused.

Esmeralda agreed.  She’d wanted a photo of the lifelike Christ icon for some time, so I was glad to oblige.

We exchanged information, and then she asked me to pray for her and for her son.  “My son’s a pharmacist, but he has such a bad case of psoriasis that he can’t get work,” Esmeralda explained.

“I’ll keep both of you in my thoughts and prayers, and I’ll add your names to our church blog’s petitions page.”

We hugged goodbye, and I remained a while longer, finishing the entry I’d started before Esmeralda had approached me.

Treasure trove

I’m always amazed at God’s impeccable timing and his sense of humor.  He leaves me treasures here and there to keep me actively engaged in what I’ve come to call my Easter egg hunt in life.

Yesterday’s time spent at the courthouse led me to Sacred Heart Church.  So, yes.  I found another treasure and got what I wanted, even though the church was locked.

The sneak peek through the glass wall that separates the chapel from the main church was priceless, even though I would’ve wanted to photograph the Stations of the Cross painted on the walls and the arched ceilings.  But I suppose it was God’s way of whetting my appetite until I return there for Mass, take more photos, and discover something— and/or someone— as I did yesterday.

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March 17, 2010

The chapel reminded me of our visit to the San Agustin Cathedral in Laredo, TX.

           

May 10, 2010

Searching for prayers to St. Felix, I came across a very nice tidbit: Visits to Jesus in the Tabernacle: Hours and half-hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament (1898).

August 14, 2011

So far I’ve found depictions of a bereaved Mary holding her beloved son in three sacred spaces: Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church, the Corpus Christi Cathedral, and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral (left to right, respectively).

               

“No created mind, no created heart, no human force is capable of knowing how much love the heart of Mary had for our Lord” (St. Jerome).

June 27, 2017

Most people’s glorious gates of perception creak on rusty hinges.  How much of the splendor of life is wasted on us because we plod along half-blind, half-deaf, with all our senses throttled, and numbed by habituation?  How much joy is lost on us.  How many surprises we miss.  It is as if Easter eggs had been hidden under every bush and we were too lazy to look for them. But it need not be so.  We are able to stop the advance of dullness like the spread of a disease.  We can even reverse the process and initiate healing.  We can deliberately pay attention each day to one smell, one sound which we never appreciated before, to one color or shape, one texture, one taste to which we never before paid attention (David Steindl-Rast in The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life).

Links of interest…  Blessed Virgin Mary…  Finding comfort (booklets as pdf files)…  How to pray the rosary…  Michelangelo: about / sculpture…  Our Lady of Sorrows: beautiful prayer (YouTube) / devotion (YouTube) / devotionals / feast (Sept. 15) / meditations / mystery of comfort and hope / mysteries (YouTube) / novena / of sorrows / prayers / scriptures (YouTube) / seven prayers / seven sorrows…  Pietà: about / art (YouTube) / chapel / depiction / making / names / statue…  Sacred Heart: parish / church

WP posts…   Angels keeping watch…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Concrete abstraction…  Faces of Mary…  Growing pains…  Heart of hearts…  Heart’s desire…  In the pink…  Historic nuggets…  Living one’s gifts…  Lourdes novenas…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  Noon visit…  Our Lady…  Our Lady’s church…  Prayerful ways…  Repeated prayers…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Saturday evening Mass…  Seven dwelling places…  Solano, Solanus, Solani…  St. Felix…  St. Monica…  Sweet Jesus

Franciscan experience

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Steven and I toured Our Lady of Guadalupe in Hebbronville, TX the day of Vaquero Fest.  (The edited version below is from the audio recording made November 7, 2009.)

“My name is Azalia Perez, and I’m the president of the Hebbronville Museum Foundation and member of the Jim Hogg County Historical Commission.  I’m also an active parishioner of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Hebbronville.”

The church

OLG11709-85“This is Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.  Our Franciscan friars got here in 1926 from the Province of the Saints Francis and Santiago, or James, in Guadalajara, Mexico; and they’ve been here ever since.

“The church is in the form of a cross.  All Franciscan churches are built in the form of a cross.  You have the main altar with two small altars, one on either side.  The church gets a new priest every three years, since Franciscans are missionaries subject to reassignment more often than regular priests.

“In 2005, Father Ricardo Rivera came to Hebbronville and started changing our church, which was very plain.  Father said we have a beautiful church, so we need to show it off.  It was donated by Stella Kenedy in memory of her husband.   It’s the only Franciscan church in South Texas.

“The altar is made from wood that was brought from San Luis Potosi.  Father had the altar moved toward the front, and it’s bigger now.

“We also got new lights, marble on the sides of the church, and lit panels.  The ceiling will be getting a new cover, and more changes are coming.”

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St. Anthony’s relic

“We have St. Anthony on the right as one faces the altar.  In May, part of St. Anthony’s elbow, or relic, visited our church.  The bishop was present for the ceremony, a special Mass, and fellowship before the relic was taken to another church.”

“This is similar to the activities at St. Paul’s in Flour Bluff when Our Lady of Guadalupe’s tilma arrived for a three-day visit,” I said.  “We had a wonderful Mass and, of course, a potluck afterwards.  Different festivities took place during her stay and, at the end, a despedida Mass and a short procession from the church to the van that transported the tilma to its next destination.”

“When St. Anthony’s relic crossed the border from Mexico into the United States, it got to San Agustin Church, the basilica in Laredo.  Although our diocese is not Franciscan, the bishop did not want to release the relic until all our churches were blessed, so he invited everyone to the cathedral for Mass and a celebration.  Only then was the relic brought to Hebbronville.  We were very blessed to have St. Anthony’s relic, even if for a short time, Sunday morning until Sunday night.  It will visit every Franciscan church in the United States and Mexico before it returns to Italy.”

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Devotions

“Here at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church we celebrate the Divine Mercy.  We are very blessed because not every priest supports this devotion.  We also have a spiritual relationship with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Francis, and St. Joseph.  We have a statue of St. Isidore on one of the side altars because he’s the patron of farmers.  Since ours is a farming and ranching community, the church was originally named St. Isidore.  But that changed in 1926, when the Franciscans arrived from Mexico.  Our Lady of Guadalupe is the protector of our priests as well as the patroness of the Americas.”

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The chapel

Next, we walked into the Annex, which is through the side door on St. Anthony’s right.

“After tomorrow this will be known as the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament,” Azalia continued.  “Our provincial is visiting here from Guadalajara, so he’ll bless the chapel after seven o’clock Mass.”

On entering the chapel, I couldn’t help but say, “Oh, I love angels.  I love angels.”

“If you look around, we have paintings, beautiful paintings.  The artist is from Monterrey.  We use the chapel every day for early morning Mass at seven and again at twelve-fifteen.  This room used to be longer; but, when Father Ricardo arrived here, he turned part of it into an office and put up some Tau windows.

“Earlier today, part of our Franciscan fraternity met with the provincial.  I told him, ‘We, in Hebbronville, are in love with the Franciscan charisma, with St. Francis.’  We will never change our priests for anything, so now he knows that we won’t let him take our priests away from us.”

“Are you kidding?” I interjected.  “This is ever so special!”

Building community

“The church remodeling is an ongoing project.  We still have lots to do here and in the church.  It takes a lot of money.  We’re a poor community, so we greatly appreciate not only the heartfelt efforts and contributions from our parishioners but also the generosity of others willing to help us with this endeavor.”

“So have you always been fascinated with all of this?” I asked.

OLG11709-bk“Yes.  A priest who was here for a time wrote a history of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and the Franciscans in South Texas.  I have seven copies to sell, but the book’s in Spanish.”

Knowing my fascination with Franciscans, Steven got me a copy (Villalobos Avendaño, 2006) after today’s book reading in the church basement.  I can hardly wait to see the old photos and read through the interesting facts.

I stopped taking photos for a moment, then continued.

“We came to Vaquero Fest today because we love Bill Hellen.  From the beginning, he piqued our curiosity when he insisted we ‘come see the old church.’  During our first visit, Lorenzo [one of the workmen] invited us back.  Then, in Laredo, you told us, ‘You have to come because it’s ready.’  So I told Steven, ‘She invited us.  That’s it.’  You’re the reason we’re here.”

“Oh, thank you!  I’m so glad to hear that!”

“This visit means a lot to us,” I continued.  “Even though we’re in different places, still, we’re part of the same community.”

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“What more can I tell you?  All our windows were donated by parishioners.  They’re very old.  They’re as old as the church.  I don’t know if the work was completed in 1962, more or less, or in 1963.  Construction started, stopped due to lack of funds, then started again.  We’re very blessed with our church.  There’s something unique about it.”

“It’s gorgeous!” Steven enthused.

“So tell me about your history with the church growing up.  Your mother brought you?”

“My mother and my grandmother,” Azalia continued.  “Actually, my grandmother on my dad’s side.  I grew up when the priest was facing the altar.  Most of the time, you didn’t know what he was saying.”

“Yes, in Latin.  Yes.  I understand,” Steven chuckled.  (We both took Latin in high school, but it’s a dead language nonetheless.)

“We would walk four or five blocks from my grandmother’s house to church for Mass at six.  My husband and I got married in 1966, baptized my children here; and my son, who now lives in Kingsville, got married here.  I’ve been working with the church since 1982.”

“My gosh,” I said, recalling my own early morning walks with Sylvia to attend six o’clock Mass as a kid.  “That’s a very long, personal history with this church.”

“I had a special-needs child who took all my time, so I couldn’t be here fulltime.  But, after he passed away, I said, ‘Lord, here I am.’  So this is what I’ve been doing ever since.”

“Was your child a boy or a girl?” I asked, as Steven listened intently.

“A boy.  Actually, up until the time that he was born he was okay.  But, because of complications at birth, he died in 1992.  That was seventeen years ago.  He would’ve been thirty-one right now.”

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“What a blessing to have him the time that you did but how very sad, too,” I said.

“You learn early on that God has sent your trial to show you something or to teach you something.  And we did.  We did.  We think we did.”

“All he wants is the very best for us,” I continued.  “But, as you said, he allows us to go through situations he knows we can handle, even though it’s tough at times to understand that.”

“As soon as he passed away I sponsored the altar servers for twelve years.  Then I joined the choir and the Franciscan fraternity.  And, when Father Frank arrived, he gave me the ministry for baptisms.  I’m very happy with that.”

“You get to deal with the little ones!  Well, they come in all sizes for baptism.”

Azalia smiled.  “They do.  They’re precious.  I try to be at every baptism.  Sometimes I can’t, but this new priest is adorable.  He’s very spiritual.  Father Frank replaced Father Ricardo in August.  The first time I saw him celebrating a baptism, he lifted the baby all the way and announced, ‘Parishioners, I present to you a newborn Christian.’  That was beautiful.  I tell the parents, ‘Bring your cameras because, once your baby’s up there, it’s awesome.’”

“It’s just that one quick moment, and then it’s over,” I said, remembering.  “It has to be captured in photos, so the child can know that this very special event happened.”

We talked a bit more before Azalia realized that she had tours to give as well as other duties to fulfill that afternoon.

“Well, thank you for coming!  I didn’t expect for y’all to come, but I’m glad you did.”

“Thank you!  You are very blessed, Azalia!”

Steven and I were most appreciative of the time she spent with us.

Prayer

Lord God, to whom belongs all creation and who call us to serve you by caring for the gifts that surround us; inspire us by the example of Saint Isidore to share our food with the hungry and to work for the salvation of all people.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

December 13, 2009 

Azalia emailed and included photos.

We just finished with Our Lady of Guadalupe feast.  It was wonderful.  We had a large turnout for the Mass and the dinner.  Thanks be to God.

I’m sending you some pictures of the altar.

Oh, the last picture is of Father Juan José.  He was with us for two months but is leaving for Spain on Wednesday.  He will be helping another Franciscan who is by himself and needs help.  Great example of St. Francis.

“We are minstrels of the Lord, whose work is to lift people’s hearts and move them to spiritual gladness” (St. Francis).

      Azalia121209-29

April 4, 2014

All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.  By reading we learn what we did not know; by reflection we retain what we have learned
(St. Isidore of Seville).

April 4, 2017

“There are two kinds of martyrs, one in open suffering, the other in the hidden virtue of the spirit” (St. Isidore).

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Links of interest…  Divine Mercy: about / song (YouTube)…  Franciscan: experience / prayer / resources…  How early churches came to be built in the form of a cross…  La Mota Ranch: Bill Hellen (agritourism: more / fishing & hunting)…  Mexico is the most violent Latin American country for priests…  Our Lady of Guadalupe: church (Hebbronville) / mother / patroness / tilma…  Sacred Heart of Jesus…  Scottus College (more)…  St. Anthony: traditions & miracles / relic…  St. Francis: about /  biography / national shrine…  St. Isidore: farmer (more) / feast / litany novena /  preserving our inheritance of faith / printable prayer / quotes…  Texas Tropical Trail…  St. Joseph…  St. Paul the Apostle Church: facebook / parishes online / website…  Tau cross…  TX Tropical Trail Region

WP posts…  Franciscan treasures…  Grapes of generosity…  Historic nuggets…  Holy relics…  Making meaning…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  My Franciscan Crown…  Persistence…  Prayer…  Si quaeris miracula…  St. Anthony…  St. Felix…  Vaquero Fest Saturday

Historic nuggets

LTX91509-1381Last week, Steven and I attended the monthly TX Tropical Trail Region meeting in Laredo. 

Day’s activities

Our group met at the art center and later took the trolley to the Laredo Community College, situated on the site of the historic Fort McIntosh.  We took a guided walking tour of the environmental science center and were entertained by a couple of dancers from the Folklorico Ballet before returning to the art center for the delicious three-course meal prepared by Chano Aldrete.

After lunch we viewed two films— the story of the TX Tropical Trail and the history of Fort McIntosh— presented by Rick Villarreal and Margarita Araiza, respectively.

Invitation

After the meeting, we exited the art center along with four lovely women from Hebbronville.  They excitedly shared their good news: Our Lady of Guadalupe Church has undergone its transformation.  “You have to come back for a visit!  The church is beautiful,” the ladies enthused.  We agreed to return, most likely during the town’s Vaquero Festival on November 6-7. 

Around the plaza

Steven and I headed to the hotel to await our very first dieciséis de septiembre celebration, which was set to start with “el grito” at the plaza across from La Posada.

Around six, we walked over to the San Agustin Cathedral before strolling around the plaza, but the front door was locked.  We talked to a young woman who’d grown up in Laredo.  Gigi, now a middle school teacher, told us about her Catholic school experience in the building next to the church.  She encouraged us to return the following morning when the church would be open again, said she’d introduce her family to us if we saw each other later, then left to find her loved ones at the plaza.

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We enjoyed the view from where we stood before crossing the street to join in the festivities.

We took lots of photos and mingled with others who, like us, enjoyed the entertainment, the freebies, and the tantalizing aromas of gastronomic delights.

LTX91509-10Once back in front of the hotel, I couldn’t help but wonder about the opposite end of the cathedral.  “Let’s go check out what’s behind the wall.  I want to see the other side,” I insisted, even though Steven reminded me that the church was closed.

As we walked past the gate onto the churchyard, we saw the priest making his way toward the plaza.  “Excuse me, Father,” Steven said.  “We’re from out of town, so we’d like to visit the church before we leave.  What time is Mass tomorrow?”

“At noon, but you can go in now.  Just enter through that door,” he responded, motioning to the wooden doors behind him.

Overjoyed, we thanked him and hurried in for a look. 

As we entered, we noticed the couple cleaning the church.  I explained that the priest had given us permission to look around.

We took photos until the man informed us that Father had said to lock up the church.  I thanked him, adding that the church is beautiful and reminiscent of the one in Brownsville, which was also established by the Oblates.  The man smiled and spoke proudly about the church before we bid each other goodnight.

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Savoring the evening

Steven and I walked happily back to the plaza.  We took in the sights and sounds for a while before opting for dinner at the hotel restaurant.

We sat and talked about the day as we gazed at the happenings through the window.  The plaza and its surrounding areas were standing-room only by then.  We took our time, conversing with both Tony, our lighthearted waiter, and our gracious hostess, who spoke glowingly about her family.  Then, for dessert, we stepped back out onto Zaragosa Street to savor the dieciséis de septiembre celebration through its flavorful music, dancing, and ambiance in Laredo’s historic downtown district.

We had a fantabulous time!

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Links of interest…  16 de septiembre (Grito de Dolores)…  Augustine of Hippo: apostolic letter (JPII) / author / bishop & doctor / book on prayerconfessions / doctor of grace (more) / for all seasons / memorial (Aug 28) / on the Beatitudesprayers / prodigal son / raised to new life / seeking Godthinking faith…  Ft. McIntosh:  about (more) / army post / history…  Laredo: churches / center for the arts / Chano Aldrete / community college / La Posada Hotel history / Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Science Center (facebook) / museums / tours (eventsheritage walking tour)…  San Agustin: cathedral (diocesan pagefacebookhistory – Mass times) / historic district / obispo (bishop)…  TX Tropical Trail Region

WP posts…  Etched in time…  Franciscan experience…  Franciscan treasures…  Grapes of generosity…  Persistence…  St. Anthony…  St. Austin Church…  St. Monica…  Vaquero Fest Saturday