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RAFAEL GUÍZAR VALENCIA

RAFAEL GUÍZAR VALENCIA
(1878-1938)

        Rafael Guizar Valencia  was a Mexican bishop who risked persecution to educate seminarians;
 

     As a missionary, Rafael Guizar Valencia sometimes disguising himself as a street vendor or a musician, risked his life to tend to the wounded during the Mexican revolution.
 

     Rafael Guizar Valencia worked tirelessly in "the beloved Mexican nation," even facing persecution, to ensure that seminarians were properly educated "according to the heart of Christ."
 

     Faithful in Mexico say that the bishop's body showed remarkably little signs of decay after being removed from burial ground in a cemetery and put on display in the local cathedral some 12 years after his death.

   Excerpted from Pope Benedict XVI's Homily

     Gospel that we have heard helps us to understand the figure of St Rafael Guízar y Valencia, Bishop of Vera Cruz in the beloved Mexican Nation, as an example of one who has left all to "follow Jesus".

     This Saint was faithful to the divine Word, "living and active", that penetrates the depth of the spirit (cf. Heb 4:12). Imitating the poor Christ, he renounced his goods and never accepted the gifts of the powerful, or rather, he gave them back immediately. This is why he received "a hundred fold" and could thus help the poor, even amid endless "persecutions" (cf. Mk 10:30).

     His charity, lived to a heroic degree, earned him the name, "Bishop of the poor". In his priestly and later episcopal ministry, he was an untiring preacher of popular missions, the most appropriate way at the time to evangelize people, using his own "Catechism of Christian Doctrine".

     Since the formation of priests was one of his priorities, he reopened the seminary, which he considered "the apple of his eye", and therefore he would often say: "A Bishop can do without the miter, the crosier and even without the cathedral, but he cannot do without the seminary, since the future of his Diocese depends on it".

     With this profound sense of priestly paternity he faced new persecutions and exiles, but he always guaranteed the formation of the students.

The example of St Rafael Guízar y Valencia is a call to his brother Bishops and priests to consider as fundamental in pastoral programs, beyond the spirit of poverty and evangelization, the promotion of priestly and religious vocations, and their formation according to the heart of Jesus!