Help Storm-Stricken FSSP Guadalajara!

July 24, 2019

Fr. Daniel Heenan, FSSP, pastor of Our Lady of the Pillar, our parish in Guadalajara, Mexico, recently sent us a dispatch detailing the vicious storms that have afflicted the area recently. The parish suffered significant damage, and is in need of your help. Read on to find out more.

The flooding in the city

The city of Guadalajara, Jalisco is blessed to enjoy nearly idyllic weather year round. Although heavy rainstorms are not uncommon from June to early October, this year has already seen two that have been particularly tragic. Last week a quick but powerful storm hit the city, the second in a short space of time. Large amounts of hail fell, clogging city streets and drains and causing extensive damage, while intense gusts of wind were powerful enough to knock down trees and break windows.

An altar boy blocks the rain with an umbrella

Older structures such as the church of Our Lady of the Pillar, situated in the historic downtown and home to the FSSP in Guadalajara, were particularly susceptible to the inclement weather. These two storms exacerbated existing problems and caused new damage that will be costly to repair. Estimates are that the church needs around $75,000 worth of structural repairs in total. Right now, however, the parish needs to find close to $15,000 to address the most urgent problems and prevent further structural damage in the short term. The storm broke windows and old stone drainage pipes, causing water to leak into the woodwork. An already outdated and vulnerable electrical system was further at risk. Windows in the skylight in the cupola over the altar broke while Mass was being celebrated. An altar boy had to hold an umbrella over the priest so he could finish Mass without him or the Blessed Sacrament getting wet.

For a parish that it is already on a very tight budget these repairs are going to pose a big challenge and we are grateful for any help that can be offered. To donate, please visit www.fssp.com/missions or give via Paypal.

A Brief History of Our Lady of the Pillar Church

When Guadalajara started to grow towards the southeast of the city, it was necessary to build a new church for the faithful that were living there. Bishop Manuel de Mimbela therefore decided to construct a new church dedicated to Our Lady of the Pillar. The first stone was laid on October 12th, 1718, and the construction was finalized by 1720. The new church was so important that the neighborhood where the church was built was called “Parroquia”, or “parish”, in reference to the church of Pilar. An expansion project was inaugurated on October 6th, 1882, giving the church the current look we see today. The church has a central nave with a side chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas of Bari, a smaller chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart and a big lateral chapel known as Via Matris (as it has the stations of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady). The central nave has four side altars dedicated to St. Joseph, Our Lady of Refuge, Our Lady of Guadalupe and lastly to Mary Help of Christians and St. John Bosco.

Our Lady of the Pillar during a Rorate Mass

The church was once the centerpiece of one of the most prestigious areas of downtown Guadalajara. For many years it was a favorite spot for weddings of the upper class. Now it serves as a beacon of hope in the midst of what has deteriorated into the red-light district of the city. This change in the culture of the neighborhood has had significant, negative effects on the finances of the church, making it a much less desirable place to visit.

On August 24th of 1931, during a visit of the pilgrim image of Our Lady of Zapopan, the patroness of the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, a bomb was detonated in an attempt to destroy it. Thanks to her intercession and with the help of several faithful that hid and protected the image, it was saved. Also, the baptistery of the church has the honor to be the place where St. David Galván Bermúdez, martyr of the Cristiada persecution, was baptized. +