Knights of Columbus Mexican Priest Martyrs Award of Service
These six priests were martyred for their faith during a time of turmoil in Mexico when Catholics were being persecuted. All of them died because they chose to continue to serve their people despite the threat of death. We want to honor their sacrifice by creating an award in their name that will be given out during the year to the chaplains in California who give of themselves not only to their parish and diocese but also to the Knights as a chaplain
The Knights of Columbus are forever thankful for the dedicated priests who not only serve their parish or community but who also take the time to serve the Knights of Columbus as chaplains.
The Knights want to honor and thank those dedicated priests for their service throughout the Columbian Year. Each month beginning in September 2017 through February 2018 we will honor the Knights of Columbus Chaplains who have displayed extraordinary service to their Council and Parish. These priests will automatically be considered for the yearly Fr. Juan Perez Award given out at the California State Convention.
September: St. Luis Batis Mexican Martyr Award
October: St. Rodrigo Aguilar Mexican Martyr Award
November: St. Miguel de la Mora Mexican Martyr Award
December: St. Pedro de Jesús Maldonado Mexican Martyr Award
January: St. José María Robles Mexican Martyr Award
February: St. Mateo Correa Mexican Martyr Award
Who Can Nominate?
All councils, assemblies and chapters in California
Who is eligible to receive this award?
Chaplains for councils, assemblies and chapters.
How many awards will be given out each month?
All priests nominated will receive this award. This is not a competition but a recognition of dedication and service as a chaplain in the Knights of Columbus
What is the deadline to apply?
Sept. 15 for Sept. 2017 Award
Oct. 15 for Oct. 2017 Award
Nov. 15 for Nov. 2017 Award
Dec. 15 for Dec. 2017 Award
Jan. 15 for Jan. 2018 Award
Feb. 15 for Feb. 2018 Award
Where is the nomination form?
It is on the State Website under Forms.
Where do I send the completed form?
Email or mail it to:
John D. Bertrand
1168 Sierra Linda Dr
Escondido, CA 92025
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Home: 760-294-1144
History of the Knights of Columbus Priest Martyrs of Mexico
History of the Knights of Columbus Priest Martyrs of Mexico in the early 20th century, the Mexican government began a widespread persecution of Catholics. In 1926, priests, missionaries and members of religious orders were expelled from the country. Ignoring the right to religious freedom, the government under President Plutarco Elías Calles took control of churches, seminaries, convents and schools, thereby beginning the campaign to do away with all the “fanatics” who professed their Catholic faith. In the face of violence and persecution, more than a million Mexicans migrated to the United States seeking refuge; others spontaneously organized to defend themselves against government oppression, some peacefully and others taking up arms under the banner of “Cristo Rey” (“Christ the King”). This was the beginning of what became known as the Cristiada or Cristero War. For three years (1926-1929), the Mexican people lived through violent persecution, in which priests and laypeople were ordered to renounce Christ in public. To refuse to do so meant facing not only punishment, but even torture and death. Thousands of Mexican Catholics gave witness to their faith or fought to defend it. In many cases, they paid for it with their lives. Their acts of love and bravery have echoed throughout the decades, and we remember their testimony today. Since its founding in Mexico in 1905, the Knights of Columbus had promoted and given witness to a vibrant understanding of Catholic citizenship. By the time of the 1924 Eucharistic Congress in Mexico City, there were already more than 50 K of C councils throughout the country — from Jiménez, Chihuahua, to Mérida, Yucatán. During the persecution, the Knights helped organize the League for the Defense of Religious Statue in memory of the Mexican Martyrs, Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, Conn. Liberty, which brought together and organized the country’s main Catholic institutions. The League worked to raise the nation’s consciousness and demanded that the Mexican government respect the rights of its citizens. In the United States, meanwhile, the Knights created a fund to aid the exiled and the migrants. In addition, they distributed five million flyers denouncing the brutality of the Mexican government toward Catholics. As a result, the Mexican government outlawed the Knights of Columbus and singled out its members for persecution. In his encyclical 1926 Inique Afflictisque, Pope Pius XI singled out the testimony and work of the Knights in Mexico: “A word of very special praise is due those Catholic organizations, which during all these trying times have stood like soldier’s side to side with the clergy. … First, we mention the Knights of Columbus, an organization which is found in all the states of the Republic and which fortunately is made up of active and industrious members who, because of their practical lives and open profession of the Faith, as well as by their zeal in assisting the Church, have brought great honor upon themselves.” In 1926, a delegation from the Order, headed by the Supreme Knight James A. Flaherty, met with U.S. President Calvin Coolidge and asked him to demand that Calles’ government put an end to religious persecution in Mexico. It wasn’t until 1929 that President Calles, through intervention from the U.S. ambassador Dwight Morrow, accepted the so-called agreements with Mexican bishops. The churches could go back to celebrating Mass, and those known as Cristeros, who had fought to defend their rights, surrendered their weapons. However, the government did not honor the agreements and continued to persecute Catholics in various degrees in the decades that followed. Finally, in 1992, the constitution was reformed giving legal recognition to religious associations in Mexico. Of the 25 Mexican martyrs whom Pope John Paul II canonized in 2000, six were members of the Knights of Columbus. Their stories are recounted below.
FATHER MIGUEL DE LA MORA DE LA MORA
Father Miguel de la Mora de la Mora of Colima belonged to Council 2140. Along with several other priests, he publicly signed a letter opposing the anti-religious laws imposed by the government. He was soon arrested and, with his brother Regino looking on, Father de la Mora was executed without a trial by a single shot from a military officer as he prayed his rosary. It was Aug. 7, 1927.
FATHER PEDRO DE JESUS MALDONADO LUCERO
Father Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Lucero was a member of Council 2419. Forced to study for the priesthood in El Paso, Texas, because of the political situation in Mexico, he returned home after his ordination in 1918 despite the risk. Captured on Ash Wednesday, 1937, while distributing ashes to the faithful, Father Maldonado Lucero was so savagely beaten that one eye was forced from its socket. He died the next day at a local hospital. His tombstone aptly described this martyr in four words: “You are a priest.”
FATHER JOSE MARIA ROBLES HURTADO
Father Jose Maria Robles Hurtado was a member of Council 1979. Ordained in 1913, he founded the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Guadalajara when he was only 25. On June 25, 1927, he was arrested while preparing to celebrate Mass. Early the next morning, he was hanged from an oak tree, but not before he had forgiven his murderers and offered a prayer for his parish. He went so far as to place the rope around his own neck, so that none of his captors would hold the title of murderer.
FATHER RODRIGO AGUILAR ALEMÁN
Father Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán of Union de Tula in Jalisco was a member of Council 2330. After a warrant was issued for is arrest, he took refuge at the Colegio de San Ignacio in Ejutla, celebrating Mass and administering the sacraments.
Rather than escape when soldiers arrived, Father Aguilar Alemán remained at the seminary to burn the list of seminary students, and thus protect them from being known. When the soldiers demanded his identity, he told them only that he was a priest.
He was taken to the main square of Ejutla, where the seminary was located. He publicly forgave his killers, and then a soldier gave him the chance to save himself by giving the “right” answer to this question, “Who lives?” But he replied, “Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe.” The noose that had been secured to a mango tree was tightened, then relaxed twice. Each time it was relaxed, he was asked the same question and each time he gave the same response. The third time the noose was tightened, he died.
FATHER LUIS BATIZ SAINZ
Father Luis Batiz Sainz was born in 1870, and was a member of Council 2367. On Aug. 15, 1926, at Chalchihuites, Zacatecas, he and three layman – David Roldan, who was only 19 at the time, Salvador Lara and Manuel Morales – were put before a firing squad for refusing to submit to anti-religious laws. When Father Batiz Sainz asked the soldiers to free one of the captives, Manuel Morales, who had sons and daughters, Morales wouldn’t hear of it. “I am dying for God,” he declared,” and God will care for my children.” Smiling, Father Batiz Sainz gave his friend absolution and said: “See you in heaven.”
FATHER MATEO CORREA MAGALLANES
Father Mateo Correa Magallanes, who was a member of Council 2140, was arrested and taken to Durango. While in prison, he was ordered by the commanding officer on Feb. 5, 1927, to hear the confessions of his fellow prisoners. Then the commander demanded to know what they had told him. Of course, Father Correa Magallanes wouldn’t violate the seal of confession, and so, the next day, he was taken to a local cemetery and executed by the soldiers.