San Marcos, Nigromante

Companion Relationship with San Marcos in Nigromante, Mexico 

St. Mark’s has been in a companion relationship with San Marcos in Nigromante since our first visit led by the Rev. George Smith in June 2006. This relationship was inspired by and is an extension of our ongoing companion diocesan relationship with the Diocese of Southeast Mexico and the Diocese of Renk in Sudan, established in 2001.

Mission Trips to Nigromante, Visits from Mexico, and Fundraisers to Support San Marcos Since 2006

Since that first trip in 2006, St. Mark’s has sent parishioners, youth and adults, to Mexico every year, that is until 2020. Many parishioners have participated in these trips, and parish-wide, we have supported this relationship with fundraisers that have provided scholarships to keep children and youth of San Marcos in school, paid for half of Padre Senobio’s salary each year, and supported micro-businesses and projects to help the church and community of San Marcos. These funds also helped offset the cost of the mission trip, providing assistance for some of our parishioners who otherwise would not have been able to afford the trip. Additionally, over the years, St. Mark’s has welcomed the former bishop, Benito Juarez, and his family on their visits to St. Mark’s and the Chicago Diocese. We even had the privilege of hosting San Marcos’s Padre Senobio when he made his first visit to the United States.


Dental Mission Trip

In December 2019, when St. Mark’s last traveled to Nigromante, we took a delegation of dentists, hygienists, and a few parishioners on our first dental mission trip. We had hoped to return in January 2021, but because of the pandemic, we had to cancel those plans. Fundraising events were also canceled for 2020 and 2021 with the exception of the extremely successful Zoom 2021 Annual Meeting and Cake Auction which brought in approximately $20,000 to be used for the next dental mission trip.


Plans for a Another Dental Mission Trip and Continuing with our Companion Parish Relationship

Our hope is to return to Nigromante once we are able to travel safely, maybe December 2022 or January 2023. St. Mark’s dental team remains committed to return to Nigromante, and we will continue to discuss ways we can help with the dental needs in the community. We remain in contact with Padre Senobio and some of the parishioners from San Marcos, and last year, sent a box of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and greetings from St. Mark’s, which were received in the spring, delayed because of the pandemic. 


There is no doubt that our relationship with the Diocese of Southeast Mexico is a part of who we are at St. Mark’s. We are so grateful for your continued support, and we ask that you remember the people of San Marcos, the Diocese of Southeast Mexico, and its new bishop, Julio Martin, in your prayers.


There is no doubt that our relationship with the Diocese of Southeast Mexico is a part of who we are at St. Mark’s. We are so grateful for your continued support, and we ask that you remember the people of San Marcos, the Diocese of Southeast Mexico, and its new bishop, Julio Martin, in your prayers.

A Note From Our 2017 Trip:

In June 2017, St. Mark’s sent a group of eight to San Marcos. It’s almost 2 days of traveling, each way, which includes flying 2 legs, changing planes in Mexico City, and then driving from the city of Veracruz to Nigromante, near the border of the state of Oaxaca. As we get closer to Nigromante, the roads get hillier and rougher until we turn down the dirt road that takes us into Nigromante. This year when we arrived, there were fireworks, a band playing, dancers, and a meal waiting. It was the eve of the Feast of San Antonio de Padua, and we were welcomed to the celebration of one of the most important days in the life of San Marcos and the town of Nigromante. We had made plans for our visit, but every year, there’s the unexpected and the necessary adjustments that remind us that we aren’t always in control, that we need to be open to new experiences, new plans, put away our schedules, our watches, our phones, and just be present. Yet, as we do every year, we ran Vacation Bible School for the children of Nigromante, and then, with the help of the women and men of the church, we provided a community dinner, right in front of the church, in the heart of the pueblo.

At the end of each trip, usually while we are at the Mexico City Airport waiting for our flight to Chicago, we do “a Rose and a Thorn.” Each person goes around and talks about what she or he liked best about the visit and what the biggest challenge was. One rose this time was that everyone was engaged in all the activities, the fiesta, the misa/service, VBS, the community dinner, meeting new people, and playing and getting to know the children of the town as well as the host families. We stayed in homes for two of the nights, something we have done since our first visit, and something that everyone has agreed is one of the most important parts of the trip. A thorn, on almost every visit, is that there wasn’t enough time. We needed one more day. On our last morning in Nigromante, when we were getting ready to leave, we embraced the women we have known for so many years, Modesta, Catalina, Karla, and others, kissed the babies who had arrived since our last visit, hugged the kids who had skipped school to see us off, shook hands with the older men who no longer worked the nearby ranches. They now know we will return.

We are blessed by the relationship with our friends at San Marcos. We are also extremely grateful for the participation, support, and contributions from our parish, which have helped make this trip and companion parish relationship possible. In 2017, we raised over $6,700 from our Cake Auction and Bake Sale, Mother’s Day Rose Sale, the Cinco de Mayo Dinner and Silent Auction. Additionally, we also received some very generous donations individual St. Mark’s parishioners, one who was able to get a matching grant from his company. These funds not only helped send St. Markers to Nigromante, but allowed us to pay for half of Padre Senobio’s $6,000 salary (his 3 parishes will never be able to support him financially). These contributions provided $2,500 in scholarships to help keep kids in school, grades 3 and up. They helped us pay for the building project adjacent to the church – a place where Padre Senobio now works and the parish holds meetings and where small groups of visiting doctors can stay. Contributions also help support the church bakery/panaderia, which provides a skill and income for poor women and for the church. We ask for prayer for the people of San Marcos and the Diocese of Southeast Mexico. Gracias. 


A Few Statements from our 2017 Participants

It’s a trip built on traditions, going every year, gaining trust and learning from one another, not only us giving to them, but them giving so much in return. Over the course of 6 years I have learned to trust these people and sleep in their homes with no problem; I’ve learned that when you return your favorite child might not live there anymore, but that’s okay, because next year different little children will steal your heart, remember you and cling to you as you say goodbye. I’ve learned, somewhat, how to handle all the spicy food, and I’ve built lasting relationships with these people.” Olivia Vanderlei (2017)

“This trip has re-affirmed my hope to bring together the Mexican heritage I was born into with the American one I was raised in. Both of them are a fundamental part of who I am today. My Ask, my wish, my hope is that what has been started here at Saint Mark’s with the partnership of San Marcos in Nigromante, expands within our church by people renewing their efforts to embrace the different cultures within our church, starting with integrating our Spanish and English masses.” Patricia Spencer (2017)

“Estas dos últimas visitas he aprendido mucho de La gente en nigromante acerca de la generosidad y el amor. Fue una oportunidad que siempre recordare y es por eso los invito a que se den la oportunidad de vivir esta experiencia en el proximo viaje a Nigromante.” Ayleen Delara (2017)

Statements from our 2018 Trip Participants

In June 2018 St. Mark’s sent a group of 11 to San Marcos continuing our ongoing mission.  Below are a few of their reflections from the trip.

“This was my 7th trip to Nigromonte and is seems each year has something different and more memorable to offer than the year before.  For the past year I have maintained communication with one of the women from town, Karla. Karla has taught herself a little English by reading subtitles on her TV and listening to English pop music like NSYNC.  She messages me almost daily on Facebook, asking how the Cubs game was, congratulating me on graduating, or simply just wishing me a “Happy Tuesday”… The people of Nigromonte are the beauty, and this relationship can only be described as “making others happy”.  Whether it is the people of Mexico, or the people of Glen Ellyn, we are one happy family.” Olivia Vanderlei (2018)

“This was my first time visiting Nigromante.  I was especially excited to go to a place I have been hearing about since I was four, and to go on a trip I had only heard good things about.  When we arrived in Nigromante our arrival was announced by the ringing of the church bell and by a man setting off fireworks. Each blast and clang calling people to the plaza ready to talk with old friends and meet the new ones.  Everyone I met was tremendously thrilled to have our group back in Nigromante demonstrating their unparalleled love for our one San Marcos family.” Ryan Valdivia (2018)

“Nunca les voy a olvidar y que me hicieron muy feliz de estar vivo. Cambiando de tema, las actividades y lección para los dos días era amor. Amar a dios, Amar a nuestros vecinos, Amar a nuestros enemigos, y últimamente nosotros mismos. Cada uno de nosotros debemos de luchar de estos cuatros cosas. No es algo fácil pero empezar hoy es más bueno que empezando en 5, 10, o también 50 años. Entonces para mí es muy especial para compartir un fracción de este parte del viaje con ustedes.” Karen Jimenez (2018)

Pictures over the Years








O gracious and loving God, you work everywhere reconciling, loving, and healing your people and your creation. In your Son and through the power of your Holy Spirit, you invite each of us to join you in your work. We, young and old, lay and ordained, ask you to form us more and more in your image and likeness, through our prayer and worship of you and through the study of your scripture, that our eyes will be fully opened to your mission in the world. Then, God, into our communities, our nation, and the world, send us to serve with Christ, taking risks to give life and hope to all people and all of your creation. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen