by The Rev. Canon Susana Santibanez
On February 3rd & 4th, I had the opportunity to attend the Diocesan Synod LIII of the Anglican Diocese of Western Mexico representing Bishop Reddall in Guadalajara Jalisco in the mutual relationship as Diocesan Neighbors.
Bishop Jennifer’s task, in addition to her fraternal greeting, was to convey the message of the importance and joy of being neighboring dioceses. How Arizona has much to learn about Church Planting and Church growth from the Diocese of Western Mexico. How grateful she is for the parish-to-parish partnership and looking forward to growing in new ways. Here are a few parish-to-parish partnerships that have grown within our diocese:
- Christ Church of the Ascension: Keri Westphal, Mother Erika Von Haaren, Senior Warden Melissa Bull/ Iglesia San Miguel Arcangel in Culiacan City: Rev. Jimmy Quintero.
- St. James the Apostles in Tempe: Rev. Sam Dessordi Leite/ Iglesia Santisima Trinidad in los Mochis City: Rev. Yovanni.
- Saint Phillip’s in the Hills, Tucson: Rev. Henry Hofman/ Iglesia Santa Maria Virgen in Hermosillo City: Rev. Jesus David Portillo.
Bishop Jennifer was also grateful for El Seminario de San Andres in Guadalajara Jalisco; She hoped we will someday have the opportunity for students from the Diocese of Arizona to attend it.
Her greetings and best wishes were very well received for our brothers and sisters in Christ from Western Mexico Synod; as well as their desire to continue growing in faith, and a mutual relationship of knowledge in the exchange of resources and accompaniment as sister Dioceses.
I have had the opportunity to see the beauty of our Diocese of Arizona. The diversity of different cultural and ethnic groups makes a broader invitation to continue growing as a church of Christ.
The Diocese of Western Mexico is also enriched with that cultural and ethnic diversity, expanding the invitation to learn more about the cultural diversity of the people of God in their own contexts.
They are communities of Native American, Indigenous and Hispanic; which also worship in their own language: Spanish, English, and native indigenous languages.
Guadalajara City is located El Seminario de San Andres, and the seminary director is the Rev. Diana Cabello. Currently, the seminary offers face-to-face and online classes. As part of the planting and growth of churches, the seminary has implemented that each seminarian can start a house of prayer with a vision of a mission. During the Synod, three of these houses of prayer submitted their petition to Bishop Ricardo Gomez Osnaya to make the transition to become a mission.
The joy among their lay leaders and clergy is truly contagious. Seeing how they enjoyed sharing their experiences was very valuable to me as a clergy and as a person.
One of those stories was shared by the Reverend Diacono Soco Huerta, who currently serves at the Templo de Cristo in Guadalajara City. Soco began his ministry in a public park; with a table and white tablecloth under the shade of a tree, inviting people to have time together while sharing the word of God. Their chairs were large buckets that the people brought from their homes. One day a man offered them his garage so that they would have a safer place to congregate, and there they continued to grow. The story of Rev. Soco is just one of many around the Western Diocese of Mexico.
The presence of the Anglican Church has been welcomed among some of the different Indigenous groups in the Diocese of Western Mexico; of which two women have been ordained as priests and one of them as a vocational Deacon. The two women are from the Indigenous tribe Xiui from San Luis Potosi.
On February 4th the Reverend Deacon Norma Castillo, who represents one of the Indigenous communities, led the Synod in morning prayer. Her message was very inspiring for everyone; a message of unity, and strength; a message towards her colleagues and lay people. A message given from her experience in the context of her Indigenous community. Truly leaving hearts full of faith and hope.
That same day, Reverend Ana Rodriguez led us in a noon prayer. Her message of humility, unity, and faith, allowed us to close with a flourish with such an inspiring and encouraging reflection that she expressed from her heart towards love by serving and living together as one family in Christ.
As a member of the Diocese of Arizona, I can say what a great blessing it is to be able to count on the sister relationship between our Diocese and the Diocese of Western Mexico. The work and vision that Bishop Reddall and Bishop Ricardo Gomez Osnaya have in common for our Dioceses is part of Christ’s movement of love for their families.
As Canon of the Hispanic/Latino Ministry, and member of this Diocese, I extend the invitation to participate in the knowledge of the activities that these two Dioceses carry out daily for the growth of our Church.