Living amongst the violence
Last Friday morning, Leo, the full time Parish Worker and I were crossing the city in order to meet with the Editor of the Columban Spanish Magazine, one Mr. Manny Vargas. After a short stop at the bank, we continued on only to be passed by speeding Police cars and military convoys with sirens blaring.
Soon enough, we passed by a tragic and frequently common-place scene; the recently executed body of a 47 year-old father of 4 who was stretched out on the street corner. Hurriedly, we decided to at least attempt a prayer or a blessing for the victim concerned, not wanting to repeat the example of the Levi of the road to Jericho, although it is notoriously difficult to do so under the current security circumstances.
I parked our pick-up just in front of the recently shot-up Funeral Home which belongs to the Mayor of Ciudad Juarez's family. We then attempted to pass the Police line with its respectful and yet unhelpful automatic weapon-toting agents.
Whilst I was engaged in a rambling conversation with the Police, Leo had fortunately gained access to a squad of soldiers who were more accommodating and who, in turn, sent us further along under and through the streams of yellow tape surrounding the scene of the execution.
Lo and behold...and Thank you God... we discovered there a younger Policeman who had finished the Confirmation Course in our Parish some 3 years ago. After the mutual greetings and the mutual..."What are you doing here? ", he sent us on another 10 meters toward a group of masked investigators, who showed signs of minor impatience with us.
Fortunately, 2 of the younger, female Officers in charge of the crime scene took me over and much nearer to the body. At that moment, another Officer took me back away from the body and just left me in a sort of no man's land. I had already donned my Stole and philosophized about the cruelty and the violence of Juarez, surrounded as we were by troops, sobbing relatives, crackling radios and spiraling helicopters.
Once again...the younger female Officer came to the rescue and guided me through the Commandos and into the house of the recently deceased. I met with his wife who was in a sad state and confided to me that she at least was glad that her/their 4 children were safely living in the United States. The Press later reported that she had been wounded in the execution and that her husband had been shot as he stepped from his vehicle. All the above was untrue. She was uninjured and there was no vehicle anywhere near the crime scene.
I then left the house and paused for a blessing over her husbands' body, then found the ever-resourceful Leo in the entire swirl and continued on our way.
Please continue to pray for the People of Juarez...and the Missionary work of the Columban Fathers.
Fr. Kevin Mullins SSC spent many years in Chile before moving to the border between Mexico and the USA.