Toribio Protector of the indigenous

The saint who is celebrated today, Toribio [Turibius] of Mongrovejo, is not well-known outside of Perú and some parts of Latin America, though he was the second archbishop of Lima.

He was named a bishop, even though he was not a priest but a professor of law in Spain. Yet when he arrived in Perú, he took his pastoral duties seriously, spending most of his first seven years visiting his immense archdiocese. This was the first of his four pastoral visits to the widely scattered parishes.

Through his efforts, a catechism was written in two indigenous languages, Aymara and Quechua, as well as Spanish. He also tried in some ways to protect the native peoples from the avarice of the Spaniards.

There is one story, related in Paul Burns’ Butler’s Lives of the Saints: New Condensed Edition, which strikes me as indicative of the independent spirit of Saint Toribio.

He had opened a seminary but ran into conflicts with the Spanish viceroy and the civil council over this effort. In one case, the viceroy objected to the order of the archbishop that seminarians and professors should leave their weapons at the door of the seminary. This was only resolved when the king took the side of Saint Toribio.

What strikes me is his commitment to be present to the people, learning Quechua, visiting the whole diocese, even staying in the houses of the poor when there was no presbytery.

We, the Church, should imitate this commitment and strive to be present to all, especially those most in need.

 

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2 responses to “Toribio Protector of the indigenous

  1. Well put, Jim.
    “Being present” sometimes letting people be and do what they need to do, on their own.
    It is great to hear “It’s not about us, but our guests.” This is something I’m trying to get some people from the US to understand.

  2. As the director of a program that provides shelter to homelessness families through a network of 14 host congregations, just being present to our guests can be a hard concept for some volunteers. One such group of volunteers are those that provide evening hospitality (i.e., play games w/family members, help out with homework, be a listening ear for parents). It’s not uncommon for volunteers to feel dejected because after supper, guest families often just go to their rooms for the night. Even though we counsel volunteers during trainings “it’s not about us but our guests”, it’s human nature to come into a volunteer experience with some expectation of what it might be like; even if it’s “I want to show these families that they are loved, are important and are cared about”.

    Because each host congregation hosts our families at their church (for one week every four months), there is an expectation that volunteers will be present at the church during the evening and overnight hosting period. So when I am talking about expectations to volunteers, I tell them up front not to be surprised if our guests just go to their rooms after supper; after all we all decompress in some way at the end of our day. I also remind the volunteers, “If you’re not here, our guest families can’t be here”. I know for myself at times, and for our volunteers, just being present can be difficult as we live in a “doing” society. But in this instance, being present to our guest families and not doing anything more is the difference between three families having overnight shelter and not having overnight shelter.

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