Recent violence in Mexico has taken the lives of thousands of people, mostly young men and women. Many mothers fear retaliation if they speak up. In Acapulco, one of the cities hit hardest by the violence, the Church is the only place where they feel safe sharing their grief.
The Catholic Church is leading social transformation initiatives to eradicate violence in Mexico. Catholic Relief Services is working with Caritas Mexico to develop peacebuilding initiatives to prevent and address violence. These projects—listening centers established in parishes with high rates of violence—provide spiritual, psychosocial and legal advice to women and families whose lives have been torn by the loss of a son or daughter.
Acapulco has more than a dozen listening centers. Mothers who have lost children to violence are invited to the centers by catechists who accompany them through the mourning process. The centers are staffed by social workers and psychologists who have completed a certification program in peacebuilding, sponsored by CRS, at the University Loyola del Pacífico.
These mothers agreed to talk about their experiences on the condition that their identities would be concealed.
In this center I’ve found peace and tranquility; I’ve found help. I’ve learned how to pray and how to forgive all human beings—those who are at fault and those who are not—because we are not the ones to judge. This pain is too strong, too difficult to overcome alone. But I feel at peace, finally. Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for CRS
We all should have faith in something. I’m taking refuge in what is good, in my faith, so I can do away with the negativity, the bad thoughts and don’t contribute to the violence. I don’t want revenge—because if I do so, I would be generating more violence. Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for CRS
Father says Mass every fourth Sunday of the month for those who have been killed. We bring the pictures of our sons, and he says the noon Mass for them. Unfortunately, this situation of violence is taking away many innocent people. I don’t know when this injustice will stop. Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for CRS
When someone tells you ‘your son has been killed,’ it’s horrific; you just want to die. I wanted to die. The catechists invite us to come to Church. They care for us when we’re in pain, they advise us, support us, give us courage and they listen. Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for CRS
I used to say that won’t happen to me because I’m not doing anything evil; my family is not doing anything evil. But unfortunately it’s not because you are doing anything evil or anything good. It just happens. Here I no longer feel that heartbreaking pain. I can keep on going; I can help myself by holding hands with others who have been through the same thing.” Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for CRS