After 10 years as a missionary priest with the African-Americans in Opelousas, Louisiana, and 10 years in Puerto Rico, Frank Kichak, C.S.Sp., was sent to the Huasteca Potosina in the State of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, in 1979. Here is his story:
Between my years in Louisiana and Puerto Rico I worked with the Holy Childhood in Pittsburgh, PA, where the children of Catholic schools helped us to raise funds for the missions over a three-year period. I went to many U.S. parish churches to preach mission appeals.
I never dreamed that I would be a priest missionary in Mexico for 32 years, working in El Pujal, Mexico, Coxcatlan and San Antonio in the Sierra Madre Mountains. While most of the men spoke some Spanish along with their native tongue, Tenec, most of the women spoke only Tenec. So I had to look for the New Testament in Huastecan.
There were no schools which offered this dialect so I asked our cook to sit down with me every morning and to read aloud the Gospels. When I felt comfortable with the dialect I decided to practice Huastecan or Tenec in each village that I visited. In time I was able to hear confessions and to celebrate Mass and the Sacraments in each community.
I then traveled into the interior of the Sierra to the missions of Coxcatlan where I continued my ministry in Nahuat, now learning the New Testament in Nahautl dialect by practicing with native speakers. It was some time before I could hear confessions and celebrate Mass in Tenec and in Nahuat.
I drove in my Explorer Jeep from village to village. In many cases I had to walk to reach some of the villages. Of course, I needed an Indian guide who knew his way. After some time I was sent to San Antonio Mission, where the majority of the people were Huastecan.
After 32 years, it was time for me to retire and rest with other returning confreres at Casa Laval, in Hemet, CA. I became reacquainted with two other retired confreres who entered the seminary with me in 1944, Father Albert McKnight and Father George Healy. Recently, the three of us, now in our 80s, were able to participate in daily Mass and in the daily Divine Office prayers in our little chapel.