Friday, September 15, 2006

The Church in Chacala

I suppose everyone knows Catholicism is endemic in Mexico, and the center of community life in many ways. Many events are celebrated there, with a Mass and other services for communions, birthdays, weddings, funerals, and then fiestas following in the Churchyard.
Chacala has a lovely, recently built Church. My understanding is it was built with funds raised by the folks of Chacala, but I don't know that for sure. I think it's about six years old. When I first saw in, in March of 2003, it was a lovely shell, with no doors, windows, pews, or any storage area behind the altar.
The local Priest, who ministered to a number of Churches in this area, died a few weeks ago. No one seems to know when, or whom, he will be replaced. Thinking about the shortage of priests in the US, I asked Isreal if there are enough priests in Mexico. He seemed stunned and amazed I could think there aren't enough priests.
The devoted members of this Church have done an amazing job of continuing to complete the building, and to make it into a sacred space. There are now nice doors on three sides, fans installed (at least hung) on the walls on all sides, a number of pews, an area for the priest, and storage for flower pots, and other church related articles tucked behind the altar.
I am so drawn to statues and little pictures,
and statues and medals of Guadalupe.
Heaven only knows why. Or not.I think this window is of San Rafael, patron Saint of Chacala,
but I am not sure about that.
There is a beautiful statue of Guadalupe, and on of a man, who I think is San Rafael, the town patron Saint. I think that's the correct phrase. There is a big celebration for him on October 25. There are stained glass windows on the south wall. The floor is tiled. It is a lovely space. It has an incredible kind-of vaulted brick ceiling. It's hard to imagine how it was built.
This Parota, or Huanacaxtle tree seems to be very old, and very sturdy. It shades the entire Churchyard, which is used for overflow crowds, fiestas, and other events, including a fish bar-be-que and potluck on St. Rafael's Day. The large church bell hangs from this tree. It is rung three times, five minutes apart, to let people know services are beginning. And, of course, pinatas are hung from the lower branches.
And the large roots rising out of the earth are used as benches.

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