Five local Catholics flew out of the El Paso, Texas, airport this evening, bound for China. “We ask for your prayers,” wrote one of the five, Eina L. Holder, shortly before boarding, “as we walk in the footsteps of the first Columban missionaries.”
The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach organized the trip and selected these five El Paso Catholics for the exposure trip, which will last 18 days and provides the participants with a guided tour of various cities in China, with a view to familiarizing them with the work of our Columban missioners among the people of that Asiatic nation.
A permanent deacon and his wife are also in the group. Rev. Mr. Rolando Lujan and his wife, Norma, joined their travel companions for the two Sunday Masses at St. Pius X a few days ago, where the pastor, Mons. Arturo Bañuelos, with Columban Father Bill Morton at his side, asked the assembly to extend their hands and ask God’s special blessing on the group.
Deacon Rolando read the Gospel at the Masses, and his wife spoke briefly of her battle with cancer over the years. With prayer and commitment to living the Christian mission among a Native American community in nearby Mexico for weeks at a time each year, Norma credits God with her recovery, and with bringing her in good health to this tremendous opportunity to live an experience of mission in China, sent forth by her own parish.
Norma’s father came to the airport to see her and her husband off, and performed a brief, moving tradition just before she joined the line in the security area. Many Mexican parents, on leaving church after Mass with their children, will take the holy water from the fonts at the doors of the churches and bless their children with the sign of the Cross. Norma’s father tearfully repeated the gesture over his daughter, to bless her on her journey.
Sylvia Price is the fifth member of the group, and she was very excited about going. “I will be open to what God wants to show me,” she said breathlessly, and with a little anxiety over the last-minute changes to their flight plans. Their airlines cancelled their flight to Los Angeles, but another airline agreed to take them at about the same time, so that they wouldn’t miss their connecting flight to Hong Kong. Columban Father Dan Troy would meet them on their arrival, and guide them through the exposure trip.
We’re going to pay attention to the group’s messages as they proceed through this experience—stay tuned, and visit this website for more information!