News & Events



La Posada in Matamoros México

Fr. Bill Gural, ss.cc.

The Diocese of Matamoros hosted a Posada in the city of Matamoros for the priests of the Diocese of Brownsville on Monday, Dec. 20th. Posada is a Mexican tradition of people playing Joseph and Mary and going to different houses asking (in song) for a place to stay (Posada means inn in Spanish). These dioceses had been celebrating Posadas together for the several years, but last year CoViD prevented this.

I was somewhat nervous to travel to Matamoros for this event because the U.S. government lists Matamoros as a Code Orange/ “Reconsider Travel” area because of danger of abduction and violence. We priests from the diocese of Brownsville went together in cars, and when offered a choice of cars, I opted for travel with Bishop Daniel Flores and his auxiliary Bishop Mario Aviles figuring that there would be even a greater host of angels guarding us.

It was wonderful to travel with the bishops and a priest named José from nearby McAllen. They were kind to include me in the conversation by speaking English. It was interesting to hear the bishops’ stories about the diocese and Matamoros.

We were warmly greeted with hugs as we entered the Salon de San Jose at the Universidad del Noreste México – which is a Catholic institution of higher education. Seminarians and priests from the diocese of Matamoros introduced themselves. I was stumbling my way through this process as everyone else with quite fluent. It was good to connect and encourage one another. We shared a feeling of elation.

A slew of priests and seminarians from the diocese of Matamoros there- altogether about eighty- chatted with us. We really felt welcomed and loved by this community. Almost like being welcomed home. And this was a homecoming for most of our diocese of Brownsville priests as most were either born in Mexico or have parents who were born there.


We started praying the Rosary in Spanish, followed by a reflection. One of the priests leading a joyful mysterious looked a bit like a labor/ worker priest as he was wearing a denim jacket. Interesting, I thought. We were happy to pray to our mother Mary to begin our Posada.


The diocese of Matamoros led the Posada song, playing the part of Joseph and Mary requesting to stay at the inn. We in the Brownsville diocese played the part of the innkeepers being annoyed at their knocking in the middle of the night, even calling them “tunantes” or scoundrels. Eventually, we welcomed them and sing in response “Dichosa la casa que alberga este día a la virgin pura, la hermosa María / blessed the house that hosts this day the pure virgin, the beautiful Mary”. The men sang these songs with great joy, surely rooted in their childhood experiences.

                        

Later we went upstairs to whack the piñata, a game I remember playing as a child. Lupita, one of our staff here at Sacred Heart, told me that we were beating back the seven deadly sins (each point on the piñata represents one of the seven deadly sins). We had fun and good feelings of comaraderie.

We next went downstairs for our meal. I got to sit next to Padre Raymundo, a former seminary teacher and pastor from the Mexican state of Nuevo León. He was very cordial and articulate. I am glad we had conversation- somehow I was able to piece together enough Spanish for him to understand me--- thanks be to the Holy Spirit!

The servers, mostly ladies, were most gracious. It was so kind of our Mexican sisters in Christ to treat us so well. We shared jovial banter over the meal, and were all given door prizes. I remember as the bigger prizes were given out, cries of “No lo necessita!!” arose. “You don’t need it!!!” We shared great laughs.

We left feeling very buoyed by the experience. It took us about two hours to return (and it only took us about 20 minutes to get to our destination). This extended travel time gave us more opportunity to share stories, including reminiscing about Fr. Jerry Shanley who ministered to the poor in Reynosa, MX. The bishops were happy about the opportunity to host the next Posada in Brownsville but recognized the need for visas for our neighbor priests would pose a difficulty for them.

Overall, this felt like a very positive experience of brotherhood and “encounter” as Pope Francis recommends, an excellent means of building bridges with our brother priests across our national borders, and for connecting with our brother and sisters in general there.

Blessed Christmas and Christmas season to you all!

Some articles on Brownsville and the Border Wall:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/27/us/border-wall-texas-no-mans-land.html 
https://www.npr.org/2020/02/14/805239927/between-president-trumps-border-wall-and-the-rio-grande-lies-a-no-man-s-land 
https://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2019/07/a-river-not-a-border-report-from-brownsville/593872/ 


Back