Source: Diocese of Brownsville/ICN/EWTN/The Valley Catholic
The Catholic community near the US-Mexico border are praying they do not lose their historic chapel which lies in the path of President Donald Trump's border wall.
Last October the federal government announced plans to 'exercise Eminent Domain' to survey diocesan property in Mission on land that houses the historic La Lomita Chapel and brushland next to a Catholic high school, the Juan Diego Academy for the eventual construction of a border wall along the US-Mexico border.
In a statement released on 29 October 29, the Most Rev Daniel E Flores, Bishop of the Diocese of Brownsville, said: "Church property should not be used for the purposes of building a border wall."
"I had several amicable discussions with federal officials about this," Bishop Flores said the next day during his keynote address for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Red Mass dinner in Houston. "And I have great respect for border security agents. I know many of them personally. Still, I decided not to consent to this request on the grounds that it limits the freedom of the Church and is a counter-sign to her mission. And thus the federal government has filed against us. This did not surprise me."
The Diocese of Brownsville received official word that papers have been filed in federal court for the Southern District of Texas in McAllen seeking right of entry on the properties owned by the diocese. The surveying of the land will affect about one acre on each property. The two properties comprise an estimated 66 acres.
Bishop Flores said: "I am a realist; the government has virtually unlimited resources; the Diocese of Brownsville does not.. I have hopes we can prevail, but from what I am told, Eminent Domain is rarely successfully challenged. If in the end the wall is not built on our property, then we have defended our principled position; but if in the end the barrier is built, it will not be because the Church signed a permission. This, would, in fact, speak for itself."
The government filed for an order of immediate possession for the property on 20 November, to which the diocese filed a response in opposition noting "the motion does not adequately and fully set out why immediate possession is necessary."
An initial hearing over the diocese's opposition was set for January 9, 2019.
Bishop Flores said: "The Church is not angry with anybody, just interested in remaining who she is. A wall is not an intrinsic evil, but it is a prudential social disaster."
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a religious community of mostly French priests in those days, originally built La Lomita Mission, the namesake of the city of Mission, in 1865. As the midpoint between their larger missions in Roma and Brownsville, La Lomita was a critical outpost for the "Cavalry of Christ," a group of priests who traveled on horseback wearing cassocks, cowboy boots and hats, spreading the Good News to the far reaches of the Rio Grande Valley.
A flood destroyed the original chapel and it was rebuilt in 1899. The chapel bears a Texas Historical Marker and was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Every year, in late November, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Mission, which remains under the pastoral care of the Oblates, celebrates a "Mariachi Mass" at La Lomita in honor of Father Pierre Yves Keralum, one of the founders of the little chapel. The most recent celebration was held on 25 November.
"La Lomita was a place people could go to find solace when they had a broken heart … and now this situation is breaking our hearts," Father Roy Snipes of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate told The Valley Catholic.
Watch a short video report here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZkng8TeEk4&feature=youtu.be
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