Guest post: letter from the desert

Fr. Peter in El Paso, Texas, concelebrating Mass with Bishop Mark Seitz

Fr. Peter in El Paso, Texas, concelebrating Mass with Bishop Mark Seitz

Today’s post is written by Fr. Peter Precourt, A.A. He is currently living in El Paso, Texas, exploring apostolic possibilities for our new foundation, which will be established this year.

Hello! Remember me? In early March I had returned to Massachusetts for a series of meetings. Upon my return to El Paso on March 20th I encountered the newly mandated “stay at home” decree for the city of El Paso. All the churches, schools and non-essential businesses were closed. I was fortunate to be invited by the Bishop to concelebrate with him at the daily televised Mass at the seminary. Living directly across the street from the seminary made it very easy to attend. Monday through Friday, Mass is live-streamed for the diocese from this location. On Saturdays I join the Bishop at the cathedral for the Sunday vigil Mass at 4 pm. This Mass is live-streamed for the diocese and offered again on Sunday mornings by a local television station at 11 am. Often times at the celebration of the Mass, the Bishop introduces me to the people. There are many in the diocese who now know me even though I have not met them.

I remain here alone most of the time. I go out weekly for my groceries and daily for my 4-mile walk. Generally, I also take a brief walk in the evening around sunset. When I returned in March, spring had already begun in El Paso. I will include some pictures at the end of this letter. In the last three weeks we have moved into what I would certainly label as summer. It has consistently been in the 90’s and two days have topped 100. Even when I walk at sunset, it is still the high 80’s or 90. This is why I walk in the early morning before sunrise when it is only in the low 70’s. I give thanks each day that the Casita that I live in has central air conditioning.

Because of the “stay at home” advisory, I have not been able to visit many sites in El Paso. With the closing of the border there has been no movement on the immigration front. I do continue to gather information from the diocese and the various agencies that publish material on immigration. I recently had the opportunity to visit a parish with the Bishop that is very close to one of the bridges that crosses over to the city of Juarez, Mexico. It was very strange to visit while wearing a mask. This parish is in a poor section of the city of El Paso. It is often frequented by migrants. Should you like to see what it looks like, I suggest you google “St. Francis Xavier in El Paso”.

Even though Texas has chosen to open up much of the economy, El Paso is still maintaining only essential businesses open as it continues to spike in the number Covid-19 cases. Only a few of the parishes in the most outlying part of the diocese have opened at 25% capacity. The hope is that the diocesan parishes in the city of El Paso may open in the next few weeks.