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South Texas Living

Remembering a pillar of the church

Remembering a  pillar of the church
The late Pablo Ximenez

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Julia Castro
Apple Pie and Salsa
May 1, 2013
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I started attending Mass on a regular basis when I was preparing to become a Catholic, which I did in 1956. At some point, I met Pablo and Christina Ximenez. When Letty, our oldest child, started school at Sacred Heart, I saw them more often because they already had children there.

In 1961 Monsignor John J. Gerbermann introduced a movement called Cursillos de Cristiandad (Short Courses in Christianity). The courses were in Spanish because they originated in Spain. Monsignor John was targeting the Spanish-speaking men. I remember the day he went to our house to try to recruit Henry into going. He sat on the edge of our little porch. Henry didn’t give him an answer right away but later he agreed to go. He went with the second group to go from Sacred Heart. Pablo had gone with the first group, and from the very first he became totally dedicated to the movement. At that time, the husband had to go first before the wife could attend. Now it is open to anyone who wishes to go. And now they are presented in English also.

Pablo helped for several years in putting on those retreats. They were much like the ACTS retreats of today. As cursillistas we had a commitment to meet on Monday evening in church to worship and share our spiritual experiences and keep each other motivated. “Don” Pedro Apolinar led the group for about three years. After that Pablo was chosen as the leader (Rector). He and Dora Rodriguez started playing the guitar at those weekly services and they went on to form a Spanish choir. I had the privilege of singing with both of them for many years. Pablo served as Rector for 17 years, from 1964 to 1981. He was given a small plaque from the incoming Rector, Hilda Salazar, in appreciation for his many years of service. Others served after him, including Deacon Mike Perez, but none as long as him. A newer group is keeping the cursillo movement alive at Sacred Heart Church.

There was another church organization that he led for several years, Las Comunidades Eclesiales de Base, which translates into “Church-Based Communities.” There were two different groups. The one that he led devoted their time to studying scripture and praying. He led them for as long as the group remained active. Pablo also served as Extraordinary Minister of Communion for many years.

His work ethics were of the highest standard. His widow Christina says that he worked for 45 years, from the time they were married until he retired at age 65. At no time was he without a job. Their first five years he worked in the fields, sometimes taking his family, following the crops. He also worked with the late Mike Lopez at the gas station and later with the Ullmann brothers. Then he settled into a permanent job at the clay factory in Saspamco, where he remained for 15 years. The next 25 years were spent working at the FELPS facility as a jack-of-all-trades. He did everything from making the coffee for the office staff to keeping the facility clean, to landscaping the grounds, to taking deposits to the bank. He did what he had to do to ensure that his wife and nine children never lacked the necessities of life. When Thelma came along, they asked Henry and me to be her padrinos. We were proud to be called compadre y comadre by them.

He lived his last few years not knowing much of what was going on around him because of his illness. But he must have felt the love of his family and others who unselfishly tended to his needs to the very last. I believe he was one of those of whom Mamá used to say, “Ya tiene la Gloria ganada.” (They’ve earned their way to heaven.)

Coming soon -- the other group of Las Comunidades and their contributions to the community.

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