Our Sister Parish, Sacred Heart Church
October 2004, in accordance to Parish Council’s mission statement, a relationship began between St. Roberts and Sacred Heart Church in Piedras Negras, Mexico. Life in Mexico is much different than ours and the needs are many. Through the generosity of our parish family, committees, organizations, youth group and CCD classes we have been able to assist their parish and two affiliated orphanages. In 2006, Father Kish met with Padre Carlos Aguillera in Mexico and Sister Ursula Herrera, who agreed to be our liaison, visited St. Roberts. From first impressions we sensed God’s love and realized His plan was unfolding before us.
A devastating tornado in April 2007 destroyed Sacred Heart Church and damaged the orphanages and many homes. In June 2007, twenty-nine parishioners traveled to Mexico on our first parish mission trip. Our team assisted in many projects helping to rebuild and repair homes and the orphanages. In addition to the physical labor, relationships were established. We could feel God’s love, a light that creates a bridge between two cultures. We found that God’s love exceeds any cultural or language barriers.
Interestingly, Father Carlos mentioned that our church directory was lost in the tornado. He said he used it in marriage counseling to demonstrate that through love and commitment bridges are formed and a sense of family and community established. He said that if two parishes, distanced by many miles and speaking different languages can form a community how much easier it should be in the same home with the same language!
Two additional mission trips were made in 2008 and 2010 before the violence in Mexico made such travel unsafe. Since then, the St. Robert community has continued to provide financial support for the mission work of Sister Ursula, the construction and upkeep of the orphanage and church buildings, and scholarships for school children. Funds raised also provided for a visit from Sister Ursula and the new parish priest, Father Sesatty, to Cortland in 2012, thus strengthening the ties between the two parishes. Our guests shared success stories made possible by the generosity of members of the St. Robert parish and gave details on the continued needs of the Piedras Negras community.
Our lives have been enriched by our partnership with Sacred Heart Church, Padre Carlos, Sister Ursula, Father Sesatty and the children in the orphanages. We look forward to furthering our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Piedras Negras.