SALT LAKE CITY — At the end of the school year, what was once a prestigious high school just outside of Mexico City will become a new Missionary Training Center.
Benemerito De Las Americas, a high school owned and run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will be converted into a new training center for missionaries in order to accommodate the increased interest in mission service.
"Church leaders announced today that the Church-owned high school Benemerito de las Americas near Mexico City will become a training center for missionaries who will serve in Mexico and North, Central and South America," said LDS Church spokesperson Michael Purdy Wednesday.
"Church leaders made the decision after considering every immediate alternative that could alleviate the demand at the Church's other missionary training centers around the world, including the MTC in Provo, Utah," he said.
The school has been open since 1964. It currently has approximately 2,100 students and is housed on a large, multi-building campus.
"The school itself is actually very beautiful," said Kyle Green, who served a mission in Mexico City and lived a block away from the school. "It's green, it's big. They have on-campus housing for the students. They have a football field, track. I mean, it is a really nice facility, big library, cafeteria, basically a miniature Brigham Young University."
Elders Jeffrey R. Holland and Russell M. Nelson, who advise the Church Missionary Department, made the big announcement in Mexico City. Provo's MTC is the best known but there are 14 others around the world, including several in South and Central America.
Three were built in 1986, first in Argentina, then in Guatemala and another in Peru. In 1992, an MTC was built in Colombia... The next one came in 1997 in the Dominican Republic.
Orlin Clements served in Mexico City from 2001 to 2003. He said starting at the new MTC in Mexico City will be a great advantage for Spanish-speaking missionaries.
"It speeds up the learning process of the Spanish language abilities and all of my companions were native speaking so, I definitely benefitted from that," he said.