Priest credits Jesus for decreased drug violence in Mexican city
By Bárbara Bustamante
Juarez, Mexico (CNA)
Photo: Faithful attend Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in 2016. (Jose Mendez, EPA / CNS)
From 2008 to 2010, Juarez was considered to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Drug trafficking violence and the constant struggles for power and territory between the cartels made it unsafe.
However, the city of 1.3 million inhabitants, located in the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico, dropped off this list thanks to a significant decrease in the number of homicides: from 3,766 in 2010 to 256 in 2015.
Although this drop can be credited to an improvement in the work of local authorities, for Father Patrico Hileman there is a much deeper reason: Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
“When a parish adores God day and night, the city is transformed,” said Father Hileman, who is responsible for establishing Perpetual Adoration chapels in Latin America.
The priest told Radio María Argentina that in 2013 the missionaries opened the first Perpetual Adoration Chapel in Juarez. At that time “40 people a day were dying because two drug gangs were fighting over the city to move drugs into the United States.” The fight for control of the city’s drug market pits the Juarez cartel against the Sinaloa cartel, whose former leader Joaquín “el Chapo” Guzmán Loera was recently extradited from Mexico to the United States.
Father Hileman recalled that “the parishes were saying that the war wasn't ending because a group of soldiers were with one gang and the police were with the other one. They were killing people, burning houses down so they would leave, fighting over the city.”
One of the parishes that was “desperate” asked the missionaries to open a Perpetual Adoration chapel because they belived that “only Jesus is going to save us from this, only Jesus can give us security.”
The missionaries took just three days to establish the first Perpetual Adoration chapel in Juarez.
Father Hileman told how one day, when the city was under a state of siege, a woman was on her way to the chapel to do her Holy Hour at 3 in the morning, when she was intercepted by six soldiers who asked her where she was going.
When she told them she was going to “the little chapel,” the uniformed men asked her where, since everything was closed at that hour. The woman proposed they accompany her to see for themselves.
When they got to the chapel, the soldiers found “six women making the Holy Hour at 3 in the morning,” Father Hileman said.
At that moment the woman said to the soldiers: “Do you think you're protecting us? We're praying for you 24 hours a day.”
One of the uniformed men fell down holding his weapon, “crying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The next day at 3 in the morning they saw him in civilian clothes doing a Holy Hour, crying oceans of tears,” he said.
Two months after the chapel was opened, the pastor called the missionaries and said, “Father, since the chapel was opened there has not been one death in Juarez, it's been two months since anyone has died.”
“We put up 10 little chapels in a year,” Father Hileman said.
As if that were not enough, “at that time they were going to close the seminary because there were only eight seminarians . . . now there are 88. The bishop told me that these seminarians had participated in the Holy Hours.”
Father Hileman said “that is what Jesus does in a parish” when people understand that “we find security in Christ.”
He also noted that “the greatest miracles occur in the early hours of the morning."
The early morning “is when you're most at peace, when you hear God better, your mind, your heart is more tranquil, you're there alone for God. If you are generous with Jesus, he is a thousand times more generous with you,” Father Hileman said.