On the Texan border with Mexico, there is the Rio Grande, the river which Mexicans try to cross to get into the U.S. They are driven back by border police. These are poor Mexicans, who squat and live at the garbage dump, and their children are born there. As Fr. Rick showed Sr. Briege around, she was horrified by the sheer squalor. She had given retreats in South America, but she had never seen anything like this.
When Fr. Rick told her that he was going to celebrate Mass there for them the next morning, she was somewhat taken aback, wondering how Mass could be celebrated with any dignity in such an environment. What would the people know or understand? The children were running around wild like little animals. She was horrified at thinking that, in that place with those people; they will not be able to comprehend what happens during Mass. Anyway, the next morning, she, a small group of young Mexican Americans, and Fr. Rick set out for the dump. He brought a little table and all the Mass requirements.
When they arrived, already up to 1000 people were there, and more were coming! She remembered standing there looking over this crowd of poor miserable people. Clearly visible in the distance, not even fifteen minutes away, were beautiful homes and a big Mexican Seminary.
But these people had no church, and indeed, they had nothing. Fr. Rick had taken it upon himself to go out there and to begin evangelizing and ministering to them. He was trying to break down the hatred through speaking of God’s love, and then seeking to get them into groups to do works toward that end.
The Mass started, and although Sr. Briege has been a daily communicant since she was 12 years old, she said this Mass had changed her life!