All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

PalmSundayMexico Parish Partnership

In 2001 the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Southeast Mexico (DSEM) established a companion relationship of faith and support.

Over the past nine years All Saints’ has established relationships with the clergy and people of Iglesia Santa María Virgen, an Anglican church in Xalapa. When we first visited Santa María in 2008 it was a struggling congregation. Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz State, is a cultural center but has an economically diverse population, and Santa María Virgen had been challenged by a lack of visibility in the community and lack of continuity of its clergy. Padre Bayron Chanchavac was appointed Priest in Charge in 2011 and has since been leading his congregation into a new period of growth in numbers and in faith.

offrendaDuring the past six years, it has been really inspiring to watch the growth and development of Santa María Virgen under the leadership of Padre Byron and an increasing number of very capable laypeople. Padre Byron describes himself as a “missioner,” and this is certainly reflected in his leadership at Santa Maria. He is totally committed to Anglican practice and emphasizes the use of the Book of Common Prayer and lay participation in all aspects of the life of the church. In May of 2015 a new mission, La Sagrada Familia (Holy Family), was initiated in Alchichica, a town about an hour’s drive from Xalapa. Padre Bayron celebrates the Eucharist on Sunday afternoons, and although they are currently meeting in a borrowed warehouse, services regularly attract 60-70 people. Their enthusiasm, spirit and hopes for the future bode well.

Thus far, people from All Saints’ have made eight trips to Xalapa. Our emphasis has been on faith, sharing, experiencing a new culture and forming new friendships and personal relationships. We have joined them in mid-August to enjoy their fiesta to honor their patron, the Virgin Mary and in November for celebrate the traditional Day of the Dead. Our rector, The Rev. Bonnie Perry, visited in 2013.

Between trips we keep in contact with Padre Byron and others through e-mail, Skype, Facebook, and by following their webpage.

All Saints’ has also provided financial support for specific projects and needs and in 2014 we were able to help them obtain a much-needed pickup truck for their outreach activities.

The Diocese of Southeast Mexico has been unable to provide stipends for their priests since 2013, but Santa María has had the resilience to become financially independent of the Diocese and become stronger in all ways. (Several friends of Santa María in the United States have been helping them financially as they work toward becoming independent.)

Consider becoming involved in this relationship by “liking” the Santa Maria on Facebook, by joining with us for one of our Skype visits, helping with the Fiesta, or travelling to Xalapa to visit our friends at Santa María Virgen.


2016 was the eighth year of our companion relationship with Iglesia Santa Maria Virgen and the second year with their mission congregation, Iglesia La Sagrada Familia in Alchichica. Both congregations continue to thrive and are an inspiration to those of us who are involved with them. About a dozen people from All Saints’ have visited these congregations and/or have helped with our annual Mexican Fiesta. We are most thankful for their involvement, and encourage others to learn more about our outreach there, visit Mexico, and help with the Fiesta.

In May we had an incredibly successful Fiesta that is the envy of the other Chicago congregations that also have companion parishes in Mexico. Thanks so much to all of you who came to the Fiesta and ate, drank, danced, and purchased items. Thanks also to all those others who were not able to attend but have contributed to our outreach in other ways.

During 2106 we sent about $8000 to help the two congregations. (Some of this was carryover from the 2015 Fiesta.) These helped support a range of projects at the two congregations. Key items include:

  1. Repair of the roof and replacement of the water tanks on the roof of the priest’s house in Xalapa. This allowed for the remediation of the mold on the walls and ceiling of the interior. As most of you know, Padre Bayron’s son, Byroncito, has suffered from severe allergies over the past few years. His health has dramatically improved since the mold was removed.
  2. The people of Santa Maria Virgen upgraded their sound system.
  3. The people of La Sagrada Familia have been able to install a concrete floor in the warehouse in which they meet. (A significant portion of this cost was covered by the people of Alchichica.)


We have also helped them purchase durable items for the kitchen for their biweekly community meal for the needy and helped with gas and maintenance for the pickup truck that we helped them purchase in 2014. The truck is used extensively for their outreach activities. Proceeds from the Fiesta also cover half of Bayron’s medical insurance. (A generous couple from the Diocese of West Texas cover the other half.)

Coming in 2017

  1. May 20, 2017 – Our fourth annual Mexico Fiesta. (Please mark your calendars.) Join us for an evening of Mexican fun with authentic food, Margaritas, live mariachi music, piñatas and fabulous auction items to help us raise funds for the needs of Santa María Virgen.
  2. Ca. October 29 to November 5 – Our annual trip to Xalapa and Alchichica to help them celebrate All Saints’ Day and Dia de los Muertos. We would love to have you join us!
    • For a cost of about $1000 (all inclusive) per person we will:
    • Stay with a Santa María family or in an elegant historic hotel
    • Get to know and worship with our friends at Santa María Virgen
    • See and experience the colorful traditions of Día de los Muertos
    • Visit this lovely colonial city in the rugged Mexican mountains, including
      • The historic city center
      • The University of Veracruz
      • The amazing Anthropological Museum
      • Visit the new mission at Alchichica and experience first-hand what is happening there
  3. If you cannot make it then but would like to visit our friends in Mexico at some other time, they will welcome you with open arms and hearts anytime.

For more information, contact Dave and Karen Howe, 773-539-1124,