MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
For some four decades, the Church-owned Benemerito de la Americas School played a pivotal role in educating young Mexican students.
Benemerito was recently converted into the Mexico City Missionary Training Center — but the school's academic influence continues to be felt throughout the country.
On Aug. 5, officials at the MTC here donated the vast majority of Benemerito's educational books and supplies to the Mexico Secretary of Public Education. In all, more than 67,000 textbooks and other reading materials from the former Benemerito library were gifted to the Mexican government. A sizable number of Benemerito bookshelves, chairs, desks and other classroom equipment were also donated.
"The books and equipment will go to public schools throughout Mexico, including many in dire need," said Mexico City MTC Director Shawn R. Cates.
Elizabeth Gonzalez Picos represented the Mexican government at the Aug. 5 donation event at the MTC, located near the south end of this sprawling capital city. After accepting the gift, Ms. Gonzalez Picos said the donated supplies will be distributed to 37 public schools located in regions across the country.
"More than 31,000 high school students will benefit from this donation in 28 states and in the Federal District of the Republic of Mexico," she said.
Brother Cates said the educator was clearly moved by the generosity of the Church.
"What you have done for the Mexican youth is incredible — we do not have a precedent of any similar donation recorded in the office of baccalaureate administration," she said.
The Benemerito library was built in 1975 and began with just a few books. The collection at the school grew until it was unsurpassed by any other private junior high or high school library in the country. The former library was located inside the multi-story Thomas S. Monson Building. Following the transition from school to MTC, the building now houses a reception area for new missionaries — along with a computer room, administrative and supply offices and several classrooms.
The final class of Benemerito graduates was honored on June 14. Two weeks later, the first group of missionaries began arriving. (See Church News, Aug. 18, 2013, pp. 8-10). Some 800 non-Mexican missionaries preparing for Spanish-speaking missions are studying at the facility. Another 100 Mexican missionaries are at the MTC for two weeks before beginning their respective assignments.
The 90-acre Mexico City MTC has a capacity of 1,000 missionaries. Physically, it is the largest MTC in the world. Only the MTC in Provo, Utah, trains more missionaries.