Summer Reflection: Studying Spanish in Mexico

This summer, I spent several weeks learning Spanish in Mexico along with four other Dominican student brothers -- Br. Nathaniel Maria Mayne, Br. Philip Neri Gerlomes, Br. Kevin Peter Cantu, and Br. Anthony Maria Akerman. During our formation, we study Spanish in anticipation of future ministry, and many Western Dominican friars celebrate Mass, hear confessions, and preach parish missions in Spanish.

While I already had an awareness of the richness of the Catholic faith, Mexico demonstrated this abundance from a different perspective, one in which Catholicism has been infused into the culture for five centuries. For example, one billboard advertising morning coffee in Mexico included the Spanish phrase for "It is right and just." The allusion to Mass would be missed by most Americans, but is clearly understood in Mexico. Furthermore, San Miguel de Allende, the city where I spent most of my time in Mexico, is centered on the main Catholic parish in town with its adjacent courtyard and garden, and there were at least seven Catholic churches within a ten-minute walk of the convent where the student brothers stayed.

In addition to taking Spanish classes, we went on a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. As the secondary co-patroness of the Western Dominican Province, Our Lady of Guadalupe is quite beloved to many friars. The grounds of the shrine are extremely peaceful. Thousands of pilgrims were attending Mass and walking up the hill of Tepeyac where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego. We participated in Mass at the basilica where the tilma of St. Juan Diego is housed and spent much time in prayer and adoration.

Seeing Dominican life from a broader, international view expanded my appreciation of the fullness of the Dominican spectrum. In Mexico, we met multiple Dominicans: Dominican friars from the Mexican province, Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, and local Dominican laity. Through their hospitality and common bond, even though I have no biological relatives in Mexico, I experienced the joy of belonging to a wider Dominican family.

I'm grateful for my studies this summer and have already been able to put my Spanish to use at our parish in San Francisco. I look forward to future opportunities to learn Spanish and to experience Dominican life in other parts of the world.

Br. Luke Maria Lee, O.P. | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE