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Centennial of work re-opening in Mexico

CUERNAVACA, Mexico — The 100th anniversary of the re-opening of missionary work in Mexico was celebrated June 8-11 and included a number of historical encounters, including re-enactments, a plaque unveiling and recognition of some of the oldest descendants of early leaders.

Plaque honoring centennial of re-opening of missionary work in Mexico is placed in Tecalco, a community where Church has some of its deepest roots in Mexico.
Plaque honoring centennial of re-opening of missionary work in Mexico is placed in Tecalco, a community where Church has some of its deepest roots in Mexico. Photo: Photo courtesy Museum of Mormon History

The events were sponsored by the Museum of Mormon History in Mexico, a private non-profit organization of Church members dedicated to helping members in Mexico know more of their spiritual roots and the history of the Church in their own land.

Among those who participated was Simon Zuniga, 91, a grandson of the Simon Zuniga who was baptized in 1880 and became a faithful member of the Church in both Central Mexico and Chihuahua. Descendants of other pioneer members, such as Simon Paez, Julian Rojas, Luz Bautista, Narciso Sandoval, Martin Zacarias and Angela Chinchia, also attended.

A group of 35 interested Church members from various areas of the southwestern United States traveled to Mexico to participate in the events, including a historical tour of significant places associated with the re-opening of Mexico to missionary work.

Special historical reviews were held in Mexico City, Cuernavaca, Morelos, San Marcos, Hidalgo, Tecalco and Ozumba and Cholula, Puebla, where more than 1,000 local residents learned of important historical events of the Church in these areas during this significant re-opening period.

On June 8, a re-enactment of historic events was held in Cuernavaca, when 100 years to the day earlier, the mission was re-opened. Elder John Henry Smith of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles, Anthony W. Ivins, president of the Colonia Juarez Stake, and Henry Eyring arrived June 1, 1901, to set apart Ammon N. Tenny as the new president of the Mexico Mission. The mission re-opened June 8, 1901. President Tenney was one of the original missionaries who had who had entered Mexico at El Paso del Norte, Chihuahua, a quarter of a century earlier on Jan. 6, 1876.

A sketch of the lives of early leaders Francisco Barco and Simon Zuniga was presented on Friday, June 8, in Cuernavaca. The group also visited the site where Rafael Monroy and Vicente Morales were killed during the Mexican Revolution, in part because of their religion.

On June 10, a plaque was presented to the city of Tecalco commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the re-opening of the mission. More than 400 people attended the ceremony. That evening, a group of old-timers sang from a 1912 hymnal, adding their spirit to the occasion.

"We hope that the members becoming better acquainted with their local Latter-day Saint pioneers will strengthen testimonies and renew their recommitment to push forward the Lord's work in Mexico," said Fernando R. Gomez, president of the museum and a former mission president.

"We have heard much about the history here in the state of Morelos," said Richard O. Cowan, a tour participant and professor of Church History and Doctrine at BYU. "By knowing the history we can then see the possibilities for the future."

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