By: Fr. Tom Juarez
San Luis Rey – Laredo, TX
On Tuesday May 11 following the 6:30 evening Mass I went shopping for our community to the northern part of our city, wearing my mask to prevent illness. While pushing my cart filled with fruit and vegetables through the kitchen utensils area a couple ahead of me stopped, stared at me, and asked if I were a priest from San Luis Rey Church. I looked at them, turned to the side and then behind us as if they were mistaken. “Usted es el padre Tomas?” said the husband. I smiled then heard a question that we have heard hundreds of times these past months: “When will you open the Church? We miss Mass so much”. There was a hunger expressed in his words. They live in the northern part of the city, new developments, easily eight miles from San Luis Rey and yet come to our parish because they feel comfortable there.
We then went our own ways. About one hour later I arrived at the checkout area, and there they were waiting for me. They insisted that they pay my bill. Similar things have filled our community these weeks: someone brought pizza, others homemade pies or cakes, meals from Olive Garden or savory Taco Palenque, brought in a Sunday meal, or an invitation to Sunday meal with the family, even a cheque for the community.
Then there was a surprise from God, kind of a wink! That very Tuesday afternoon the Community had paid the grocery bill for the Brothers of St. John who were in need.
But there is more. The Police Department have used our parking area and hall for to prepare, provide/deliver food for hundreds of poor families through these past 8 weeks.
But then two of our volunteers who have made connections with quite a large number of immigrants managed to get money for needy families. Somehow they were able to procure hundreds of pounds of chicken, again for hungry families.
We live-stream two Masses each day, three on Sundays, for which our parishioners are so grateful. But…. they pray for the day when once again the doors of the church will be opened and they will be able to celebrate the Eucharist and receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Ooohhhh, and the hundreds of our young people waiting for the day when they will celebrate their First Communion and Confirmation.