|Monseñor, with his serious face on.|
|The young seminarian with his mother.|
As first Bishop of Abancay, Monseñor Alcides discovered that there were 200,000 faithful in his diocese, but only 8 priests and 5 nuns. He had no house and embarked on his epsicopal ministry with only a table and 6 borrowed chairs. As there were no good roads in this mountainous region he travelled on horseback, covering 20,000 km in 9 years. At one point, seeking to raise some much-needed money to build an orphanage and a seminary, he considered competing in (it must be said, an undoubtedly rather dangerous) road race from Abancay to Cuzco. He felt there was a good chance that he could win the cash prize and persuaded Volkswagen to donate a car for the cause, but was denied permission by Rome who said simply, 'we do not have maniacs for bishops'.
I could go on an on about Monseñor. There was always a twinkle in his eye, he loved to tell stories and jokes and his house was full of the photos to illustrate them. He was devoted to Mary and had a miniture reconstruction of the Grotto of Lourdes in his little garden (complete with a working fountain). He was a loving father and shepherd to all his spiritual children but, above all, a wise and holy priest. His rule of life was, "Eucharist, Mary, humility" which he often repeated to us. I loved Monseñor a great deal and I miss him a lot.
If you can read Spanish, and can get hold of a copy, I recommend the excellent Al Servicio de Dios: Memorias de Monseñor Alcides Mendoza, interviewed by Carmen Elena Villa, published by Círculo de Encuentro, Lima. The photos I have included here (apart from the first) can be found in that book.
|The oldest and youngest bishops at the Second Vatican Council: Archbishop Alfonso Carinci on his 101st birthday and Bishop Alcides Mendoza, aged 34.|