THE first Anglican mission for Mayan people in Mexico has been created in the jungle by a Mayan convert, who has named it after the Revd Florence Li Tim-Oi, the first woman to be ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Communion. Next Monday, 25 January, is the 77th anniversary of her priesting in 1944.
The new mission is based in a house in José María Morelos, in the state of Quintana Roo, in the diocese of Southeastern Mexico. The mission has been set up by a 26-year-old Mayan from the village, the Revd Llobet Ivan Cetzal-Martinez.
It has been sanctioned by the diocesan bishop, the Rt Revd Julio Martin. He said that Mr Cetzal-Martinez was a “deacon in good standing” in the diocese.
“The mission is really in its very early stages. As per today we only have one missionary in the area [Cetzal-Martinez] who is a linguist and a native of the area. We are still in the paperwork for obtaining financial aid for a five-year phase to lay the foundations for the future.
“The area is mostly indigenous and Maya-speaking. I am committed to the inculturation of liturgy and spirituality, and I see this project — Llobet’s project — as being another way of responding to the need of articulating the gospel so it speaks to all cultures about the revelation of God in Jesus Christ.”
The Florence Li Tim-Oi Foundation, which supports and funds women around the world to enable them to train for ministry, was contacted by Mr Cetzal-Martinez with a request for an icon of the Ms Tim-Oi.
Christina Rees, who is acting chair of the foundation, said that the request took them by surprise. “As far as anyone knows, it is the first time a church or mission has been named after Tim-Oi, and the first time she has formally been called a saint. She has often been called a saint informally, including by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.”
Mr Cetzal-Martinez told the foundation that he was the first indigenous Mayan to become an Anglican. He is currently studying at university, but he is also translating parts of the Book of Common Prayer from English to provide a liturgy in the Mayan language. Currently, only Jehovah’s Witnesses hold services in Maya.