Christ of Peace
By Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M., The Christophers’ Board of Directors
Ciudad Victoria is the capital of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. It sits at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains in northeastern Mexico about 200 miles from the U.S. border. In recent years, the Tamaulipas region has suffered from drug- and gang-related violence. But Ciudad Victoria could become known for something completely different, thanks to the efforts of actor Eduardo Verastegui.
Verastegui grew up in the state of Tamaulipas. As a young man, he enjoyed success as an entertainer in Mexico and eventually decided to pursue a career in Hollywood. To improve his English, he took voice lessons, and his teacher happened to be a committed Catholic. During their conversations, Verastegui rediscovered his faith, and it was then that he decided to devote himself to using his talents to serve God.
In 2003, Verastegui said, “I understood that I was not born to be an actor or something else, but to know, love and serve Jesus Christ.”
Since recommitting to his faith, Verastegui has taken part in films that touch the soul and speak to the heart of the human condition. The most notable of these uplifting projects has been Bella, a feature film that tells the story of a woman in a crisis pregnancy and a troubled man who finds purpose and healing by reaching out to her.
Verastegui maintains close ties to Mexico and is committed to positive portrayals of Hispanic people. His latest project is a plan to build the world’s largest statue of Christ in the city of Ciudad Victoria. At 252 feet tall, it will be much larger than Rio de Janeiro’s 125-foot Christ the Redeemer statue, and larger even than Poland’s 172-foot Christ the King statue, which is currently the largest in the world. Mexico News Daily reported that architect Fernando Romero designed the statue with the goal of making it look like Christ is embracing his people.
They will call it Christ of Peace; and built around it on the same site will be a church, an amphitheater, a crafts market, a convention center, restaurants and lodgings for pilgrims. Promotors of the project want to send “a message of faith, love, hope and peace.” Their intent is to create a pilgrimage site to stand as a beacon in stark contrast to the negative messages brought by persistent violence in the region.
Verastegui’s life and vision for this project respond to the words of Christ, when he said, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Christ calls each of us to announce the good news to the world in our own unique way. We need to remember the most beautiful graces can work through us in small and quiet ways. But we can also take a lesson from Eduardo Verastegui in that we should never be afraid to think big. God calls us to move mountains. Let’s pray that peace takes hold in his home state of Tamaulipas and that his actions stand as a beacon to countless more people with big ideas for bringing people to Christ.
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