Maya Missions News

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Maya Monthly September 2017

Sep 04, 2017

Local Boy Makes Good!

Dear Friends of the Maya,

 

I believe that applies to Erik Edgardo Jorge Ake of Cosgaya, Yucatan, Mexico. But it also might apply to me and to you too!

 

I first met Erik when he was about 10 years old. He is now almost 40.

 

Back then, I noticed he was an energetic leader in a village where not much was happening. Cosgaya became my favorite village. On Palm Sunday, I remember riding in on a horse. One of our visitors from Austria not only yodeled to our delight but sang at the top of his lungs the most popular song of the Lenten Season: “Perdona tu Pueblo Senor”. The lectors didn’t just read the Gospel of the Passion and Death of Jesus, they walked through the village with the cross stopping for “the stations” at homes which had experienced poverty, injustice, violence and death. Years later one of those teen agers who had carried the cross was killed by a drunken and speeding driver racing through the village.

 

The youth of the village prepared a special skit each year for the feast of the Three Kings. That skit became famous and was repeated year after year. One of the wilder youth took the role of “Herod”. A couple of his friends ended up being the “angels” (they were far from being angels.} The Virgin Mary really was a virgin (I think) and the youngest baby in the village was Niño Jesus even though “he” often ended up being a “she”. I loved that village and still do. One of our best after- school programs is taking place in that village today. We have had more than 100 students who have finished their education and gone on to find better jobs.

 

I have just returned from Manta Ecuador where Erik celebrated his perpetual Vows and was ordained a Deacon.

 

      

 

The day after his ordination as a Deacon, Erik, myself, and the whole Oblate Community had a special Mass which was celebrated by Leoclides Dalla Nora, the Provincial of our South American and Caribbean province. Erik spoke about his Journey from growing up in the little Maya Village to the point of his being ordained as a Deacon in Ecuador. I was in the first pew listening intently. I have been a part of his journey since the beginning. And you too have helped him with his education in Mexico, his work as a leader in our pueblos, his university and seminary studies in Adrian Michigan, Washington D.C. and Manta, Ecuador. When Erik got about halfway through his “journey”, he stopped and became emotional. He was at the part where he had to admit:” It has not always been easy.”

 

As our first Mexican Oblate, it has not been easy. In fact, I am of the opinion that he was often rejected. “He doesn’t fit” they said.

 

We say the same thing today about those who are different than we are. “They don’t fit”. The blacks, the Hispanics, the gays, the Muslims. “They don’t fit.”

 

When will we learn that all of us are created in God’s image? When will we learn to open our hearts, our lives, our families, our church to everyone? Pope Francis has said over and over:” To be Christian we have to go out of ourselves, go to the extreme ends of the earth and proclaim, “the good news”.

 

    

 

I don’t know if you can see it, but tears are rolling down my face. and I don’t cry!

 

Thank God Erik persevered. Year after year he had to prove that he wanted to join our community. He couldn’t enter our seminary until he had “experienced” the real world. So he worked in a factory in Merida for two years making false teeth. Now that is the real world! He still wasn’t ready to join our religious community so he served as a pastoral leader in three of our pueblos Cosgaya Sierra Papacal and Suytunchen. When he came to the States he had to take two years of extra courses in Michigan because his “credits” from Ecuador didn’t count. He had to return to finish theology in Ecuador because he didn’t write English as well as his classmates who were studying for a Master’s degree in Washington D.C. Last year he had to go to Brazil and learn Portuguese because many of our South American members only speak that language. He passed all the “tests”. I could not be prouder than when he finished his homily and everyone clapped!

 

We have just received word that Erik will be ordained a priest at the Cathedral in Merida, Mexico on February 2, 2018. He will celebrate his first Mass in Cosgaya on February 3rd.

 

I will be there. Friends from Adrian, Michigan; Toledo, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Reston, Virginia; St. Paul’s, North Carolina; Manta, Ecuador; Porto Alegre, Brazil; Port a Prince, Haiti and God know where else will be present. The Spirit which has been part of Erik’s life and is part of each of our lives will be there. Thanks to people like Erik and like you, we have learned that together we can make this a better world. Gracias.

 

Paz y amor,

Signature-Bill

 

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