An Interview with Malaquias Garcia
In November of last year, our brothers in Mexico started a temporary house in Xalapa, a city of about 800,000 inhabitants in the south of the country, in the state of Veracruz. The idea was for brothers to stay there until June. As the project was drawing to a close, we interviewed Malaquias Garcia, one of the two brothers who formed the core of this household.
NL: Why did you move to Xalapa?
MG: Over the past number of years, we had temporary households in different locations around Mexico. The idea is to increase our contact as Servants of the Word with families and young people across the zone (of Mexico), since we currently have only a house in Monterrey. At the same time, we hope that we can contribute some of our experience and expertise in the area of youth work. And we would like to start a second house in Mexico at some point, so this also affords us a chance to see where such a house should be located.
NL: Give us a bit of an idea of what those ten months looked like.
MG: William Contreras and I formed the core of the house. We then had various other brothers from our Monterrey house come join us for periods of time. We also had two affiliates in Xalapa who moved in for the whole time. That left a few slots for other young men to come and experience our life for a limited period.
NL: What was your relationship with the community like?
MG: The local community called “Incienso de Dios” has about 300 members. They welcomed us very warmly and made a house available to us at no cost. Both William and I were connected with the university district where we tried to support the leadership and outreach. William also got very involved in helping with the local music ministry.
NL: You managed to arrive at the height of the pandemic. How did that affect your plans?
MG: Of course there were precautions to be taken, but on the whole we feel we accomplished all that we came here to do. We had lots of contacts with families and young people; we got exposed to community life and the community got to know us better; and we had some good conversations with young people about their vocation, which is a key part of what we feel we can offer.
NL: Any highpoints from the time?
MG: There are many. The first is of course the openness and hospitality of the local community, which is very impressive. We also really appreciated experiencing the culture of this part of Mexico, which is notably different from that of Monterrey, including the amazing cuisine of this area. And Xalapa and its surroundings are very beautiful, so it afforded us with some beautiful outings.
NL: How can we pray for this project?
MG: Pray that we can continue to have this amazing exposure to various communities and their young people; pray for vocations, since that is always a need for us as a brotherhood; and finally pray that the Lord would give us wisdom, when the time comes, to decide where to open another house.