Chicagoland

Prayers for the suffering in Mexico and Puerto Rico

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
October 11, 2017

Our Lady of Tepeyac High School prays for victims of earthquake, hurricane

Students and staff at Our Lady of Tepeyac High School gathered Sept. 26, 2017 for a prayer service for people affected by the earthquake in Mexico and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Our Lady of Tepeyac High School campus minister Heather Kelsey leads students during a Sept. 26 prayer service for people affected by the earthquake in Mexico City and the hurricane in Puerto Rico. Many students' families have been affected by those events. Each student received a green ribbon bracelet with the words "Prayers for Hope." (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Campus minister Heather Kelsey prays the Our Father with Cinthya Gil, Elizabeth Valdivia and Yaricsa Hurtado at Our Lady of Tepeyac High School Sept. 26. The school gathered for a prayer service for the families impacted by the earthquake in Mexico City and the hurricane in Puerto Rico. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Yaricsa Hurtado, left, assists Joni Thompson, president of Our Lady of Tepeyac High School, as she ties a green ribbon on Lucero Diaz. Consuelo Contreras stands next in line. The ribbons read “Prayers for Hope.” Students prayed on Sept. 26 for the families affected by the earthquake in Mexico City and the hurricane in Puerto Rico. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Students at Our Lady of Tepeyac High School, 2228 S. Whipple St., gathered in front of the grotto Sept. 26 to pray for victims of the recent earthquakes in Mexico and hurricanes in Puerto Rico.

During the service, senior Veronica Peña read a litany of names of individuals and families — all people connected to the students at the Little Village school who have been affected by the natural disasters.

About 86 percent of the 150 girls at Our Lady of Tepeyac are Latina, said school president Joni Thompson, and most of their families are from Mexico.

“It was sad to see all the buildings go down in the neighborhood where my dad grew up,” said Doris Ballesteros, a senior whose family hails from Mexico City. Her aunt has been volunteering in Mexico City, she said. “I saw pictures and videos of places I knew.”

A strong earthquake with a magnitude estimated at 7.1 shook central Mexico on the afternoon of Sept. 19, and was followed by several aftershocks, including two on Sept. 23. More than 330 people were reported killed. These earthquakes followed a magnitude 8.1 quake that hit southern Mexico Sept. 8 and killed nearly 100 people.

Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20. As of Oct. 9, 34 people had been reported dead. Reports indicate that the island’s economic recovery may take more than a decade.

Thompson said school officials had the students plan and lead the prayer service because it was important for the young women to feel like they were doing something to help.

“I think it’s important to help others who are struggling,” senior Veronica Huicochea said. “Everyone needs to do something.”

“I believe that anything is helpful right now,” added Peña. “The smallest detail. And that includes praying.”

At the prayer service, teachers tied green ribbons that read “Pray for Mexico and PR” around the wrist of each student. Students had painstakingly lettered the bracelets with ballpoint pen on Sept. 25 in their religion classes.

Senior Alexis Clark said she had never been to Mexico before traveling to Mexico City during spring break last year.

Now, she said, “A lot of my close friends are there.”

Yanisha White, also a senior, said that the school can help more by collecting goods or money for people who have lost their homes or otherwise been affected.

“We can donate clothes and things like that,” she said.

“I feel like prayer, it’s not enough to help people,” said Yaricsa Hurtado, a junior. “But it’s something we can do right now.”

The service club at the school will come up with ways for students to help, perhaps by finding schools to partner with in Mexico and Puerto Rico and raising money to help, even if all students can give is spare change.

“We do a lot of bake sales,” she said.

Catholic Relief Services, the international aid agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is collecting donations to help those suffering in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Visit www.crs.org to donate. 

Topics:

  • catholic schools
  • earthquake
  • hurricane

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