A Jubilee Foundation

The Assumptionists’ new foundation in the Diocese of El Paso, Texas, connects us to an important part of our apostolic legacy here in the North American Province. Our oldest sustained foundation in the province was on the lower West Side of Manhattan, at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish. For more than a century, Assumptionists served the Hispanic Catholic immigrants in New York City and beyond. For much of that same time, we were engaged in a similar ministry of hospitality and outreach at Our Lady of Esperanza parish on West 156th parish in Manhattan.

Service to the poor is an essential part of our “calling card” as Assumptionists. Our brothers and lay Assumptionists in Mexico have responded to that call in parish apostolates at Parroquia San Andres Totoltepec and Parroquia Santiago Apostol. Here in the States, since the closing of Guadalupe in the late 1990’s, we have looked for an opportunity for more hands-on ministry to those in need. In the Provincial Chapter leading up to the General Chapter of the Congregation in 2017, the idea of a joint project between the region of Mexico and the communities of the US began to be discussed. In the subsequent Chapter of implementation in Cuernavaca in July of 2017, and in keeping with the General Chapter’s theme of “New Wine into Fresh Wineskins,” we committed ourselves to a new foundation serving the migrant population close to the border of our two countries. After a first site visit to the diocese by Fr. John Franck and Fr. Ron Sibugan in the fall of 2017, we began to zero in on El Paso as a favorable place to found. This was based on witnessing the palpable needs of so many at the border, taking note of the number of collaborators in the ministry, and experiencing the warm hospitality extended by Bishop Mark Seitz.

Having identified the three brothers who would form the founding community, we were able to free Fr. Peter to take up residence in El Paso this past January. Asked to “scout out” possibilities for our apostolic implantation in the diocese, his work was made more difficult by the outbreak of the pandemic. In the meantime, Bishop Seitz had made a proposal for us to assume responsibility of a parish in the south west side of the city, St. Francis Xavier. There, we will serve the local parishioners as well as serve the human and spiritual needs of the surrounding migrant population. The site of the parish, right at the bridge going over to Mexico, could hardly be better for the goals of the provincial project. After an extended time of prayerful deliberation, we told the Bishop at the beginning of August that we were accepting his proposal. Fr. Peter and Fr. Ronald are due to take up residence at the parish on September 17, with Fr. Chano arriving from Mexico sometime later.

For us Assumptionists in the US and for the province at large, this Jubilee foundation is a great adventure, full of promise. Like every good adventure, it also has its risks, given the long-term commitment made to the Bishop and the financial demands it will place on us. Insofar as the initiative is a response to the promptings of God’s Spirit, we place it in God’s hands, knowing that it will bear fruit in proportion to our trust in God’s mercy toward those in need. It is a Jubilee foundation not only because it coincides with the anniversary of our birth as a Congregation, but because it is a response to the Jubilee’s call for a renewal of our religious apostolic life. We count on the support of your prayers as the Assumptionist charism begins to take root in the Diocese of El Paso. Adveniat Regnum Tuum.

Photos of Assumptionist Hispanic ministry over the years – in New York and Mexico, from 1904 to today