On Mission: Parishioners in Moody work together to support mission
By Father Tom Frank
For 12 years prior to the founding of Our Lady of San Juan Mission in Moody, children from all around the area were catechized and prepared for the sacraments by dedicated lay volunteers. Moody is in McLennan County and has a population of about 1,300 people. With encouragement primarily from the priests in Belton, which is about 20 miles south of Moody, the volunteers also evangelized new families coming to the area from Mexico.
On Mother’s Day, May 10, 1991, the mission was established and given the name Our Lady of San Juan, after the original church of this name in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. The mission purchased a building from the Pentecostal church for $40,000, and added a covered patio and several outdoor shrines, all accomplished with the skills of parishioners. Volunteers did the same with the inside of the building, converting it to several small classrooms, a kitchen, a dining/meeting area and a lovely worship space.
A statue of Our Lady of San Juan was purchased in Nuevo Laredo and members made liturgically colored dresses for the statue. When I celebrated the 6 p.m. bilingual Vigil Mass during the first weekend of Advent, and the statue was dressed in elegant purple. That same evening, some members were practicing for a play about the appearances of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego, and other youngsters were learning the native Indian dances of Mexico.
Some 30 families from the area are counted as regular members of the mission, all with roots in various parts of Mexico. English as a second language classes and immigration assistance are provided throughout the year in addition to continuing religious education classes. Volunteers also care for the inside and outside of the mission.
Two festivals each year serve as reunions for those who moved away and also to provide enough funds to power the mission for the year. The primary hope expressed by members is that more would learn of this jewel and join them in ministry.
The feast day of Our Lady of San Juan is Aug. 15. Mother’s Day 2016 will be the 25th anniversary of the mission, which is currently under the care of St. Eugene Parish in McGregor, about eight miles away. For more information on Our Lady of San Juan call (254) 640-2483.