“Fidencia García de Rojas: Life of a Mexican Pioneer,” Tambuli, Mar. 1992, 22
More than 2,500 Mexican Latter-day Saints gathered on 25 June 1989 for the creation of the Tecalco Mexico Stake, about thirty miles south of Mexico City. It was the one-hundredth stake organized in that country. Among the members of the new stake was Fidencia García de Rojas—at age 106 the oldest Church member in Mexico. The Church in Mexico had passed yet another historic milestone during the eighty-eight years that Fidencia had been a member.
When Sister Fidencia died a month and a half later, President Felipe Hernández Luis of the Tecalco stake commented that those attending the funeral were part of another historic moment—the death of a Mexican pioneer.
Sister Fidencia began attending Latter-day Saint church meetings sometime between 1889 and 1901. During that period, the Church had closed the Mexican Mission. As a result, Church leaders in Mexico had little direction from Church headquarters, and many units deviated from standard doctrines and practices. During this time, Sister Fidencia and her family—not yet members of the Church—attended the Tecalco Branch.
When President Ammon M. Tenney came to Tecalco in 1901 to reestablish the branch after the mission reopened, the leader of the branch, Julian Rojas, was initially unwilling to relinquish control. Brother Rojas finally relented, and President Tenney rebaptized him and seventy-five others on August 18. One month later, President Tenney baptized Fidencia, her parents, and her grandparents. From that day on, Sister Fidencia dedicated her life to serving the Lord.
She recalled that after the Tecalco Branch was again in contact with Church headquarters, people began joining the Church. The first full-time missionaries soon arrived, and Fidencia’s parents built an extra room onto their house for the missionaries to live in. As membership grew, Sister Fidencia was among the group of members and missionaries who worked hard to buy a building lot for a Latter-day Saint chapel. She also helped missionaries in nearby Ozumba with their room, clothes, and food, and she worked at the Mexican mission home.
During her time at the mission home, the American missionaries taught Sister Fidencia to sing hymns in Spanish and English. She later joined the legendary Tecalco Choir and sang with the choir until just a few years before her death.
In 1910, Mexico entered a civil war that lasted, off and on, through the 1930s. In August 1913, American missionaries had to leave the country, and Mexican leaders were once again left to themselves. But the Church was well established by then, and the civil war did not seriously impede Mexican Saints from administering the Church. They did so for more than four years.
Sister Fidencia witnessed an even greater disruption of the Church in Mexico in 1936, when a large body of members known as the Third Convention broke away from the main body of Mexican Saints.
By 1942, however, Arwell L. Pierce, newly called president of the Mexican Mission, had begun working to resolve misunderstandings. And in 1946, President George Albert Smith, eighth President of the Church, presided over a reunification conference in Mexico City. During the conference, more than twelve hundred Third Conventionists returned to the Church. Sister Fidencia attended the conference and visited with President Smith in her home. Hers was the first home President Smith visited when the traveled to Tecalco.
Other milestones for the Church in Mexico began to occur more rapidly as Sister Fidencia grew older. Together with family and other Church members, she made several trips to the Arizona Temple over the years to do temple work for herself and her family. In 1972 she attended the Mexico City area conference. And in 1983 she attended the dedication of the Mexico City Temple. During these years she remained dedicated to her family, to missionary work, and to her Church callings, two of which were particularly important to her.
As a Primary teacher, Sister Fidencia loved to teach children the gospel through stories, especially Old Testament stories. She gave her students a love of the scriptures, which she read daily. And she often recited from memory facts and stories from the lives of all of the latter-day prophets. She taught many of her own grandchildren in that calling.
As a visiting teacher, Sister Fidencia completed forty consecutive years of 100-percent visiting teaching. In February 1978, she received commendation for this accomplishment from Relief Society and mission leaders, who expressed appreciation for her service and compassion.
Sister Fidencia’s posterity remembers her for an even greater accomplishment: bringing five generations of their family into the Church. She and her first husband, Aniceto Rojas, the son of Julian Rojas of the early Tecalco Branch, had six children, two of whom survived to have children and grandchildren of their own. She and her second husband, Manuel Rosas, had three children.
Sister Fidencia survived both of her husbands and lived to see many grandchildren and great-grandchildren serve missions. Many of her descendants have served and continue to serve faithfully as leaders among the Mexican Saints.
To her family, the most precious gift Grandmother Fidencia left was the gospel of Jesus Christ. For her fellow Saints, Sister Fidencia’s many years of humble service left a legacy that spanned almost an entire century—a century during which Church members in Mexico struggled, overcame, and finally flourished.