Snapshots from the Tijuana Mission

Compiled by David Rizzo

God Is There For Him

Each year Serving Hands International provides funds enabling us to put solid roof on 20 houses. These houses usually are ones using a tarp or other makeshift materials for a roof.

The first roof we did this year was for a friend we encountered three years ago while canvassing the area around one of our Oblate chapels in Rojo Gomez Alto. This area is difficult to traverse because it is hilly and rocky and requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle at times.

Gregorio lives there with his wife. They have many needs since his wife is disabled and cannot work and Gregorio is blind and has diabetes. We have enjoyed getting to know them. Despite their circumstance, they generally have smiles to greet us. We started by bringing them food baskets.

A couple of years ago, Gregorio stepped on a nail the wound got infected. We tried to get him to the hospital, but that did not work out for various reasons. Following the advice of a neighbor he tried a home remedy, but it did not help, and he ended up losing his leg.

Gregorio got really depressed an angry at God, his wife, and especially his neighbor. We arranged for our medical team to get involved. They taught his wife how to care for him during his recovery from the amputation. We also arranged for a parish psychologist to visit.

Today Gregorio is happy again and has come to believe God is there for him through the various volunteers who have helped. The new roof adds to his brighter days since the house in now dry, despite this season’s rains. He asks us to pray for him and his family.

They Believe Their Prayers Have Been Answered

One of the more difficult places to live in Tijuana is Antorcha. Most people live in make-shift houses with scrap boards and tarps. It is also a high crime area.

Maria Ramos is a 74-year-old woman who has lived with her husband and granddaughter in Antorcha for ten years. They started with a house made of cardboard, but today have a three-room wooden house. Maria told us that her roof leaked so bad that it was often wetter inside than outside. We put a new roof on the house which improved the situation tremendously.

Maria’s husband makes a meager income selling things that other people have donated to him to sell. Maria can barely walk and must use a cane, so she is unable to help. About five years ago their son went to work in another city, and they do not know what happened to him because they have not heard from him since.

Their 12-year-old granddaughter, Letty, lives with them and tells us that her grandmother spends hours praying to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Maria believes her prayers have been answered because the Oblates help out the family through our monthly food basket program. But Letty is still concerned. She believes her grandparents ae malnourished. We want to continue to help this family so that their prayers are answered

Put Love Where It’s Needed

Our newest parish social outreach leader is Susana Ramirez. She is a strong woman with two children, a son 17 just entering college and a daughter just starting high school.

Both children used to be in private schools and Susana was able to stay at home because her husband was a lawyer. Three years ago, her husband died, and everything changed. Susana, who was studying to become a lawyer, had to find a job and eventually started baking desserts from home. Her son dropped out of school to get a job to help support the family.

When a friend invited Susana to a parish retreat for adults, she did not want to go. She was still angry and confused with God. But she finally relented to go. At first her spirit was not open and she just wanted to go home. But then came the time for the exposition of the Holy Eucharist when Susana felt her husband was smiling at her. She was overwhelmed by feelings of forgiveness and love.

Soon after the retreat Susana accepted a job with us as a parish social outreach coordinator. She says her trials helped her to understand what others are experiencing. She is now always smiling and is always trying new ways to help others.

Susana is doing what she loves the most, serving God through helping others. She tries to follow the words of Mother Teresa every day: “Put love where it is needed.”

By The Numbers: Oblate Tijuana Mission 2022

We thank all our benefactors that make it possible for us to continue our various programs. Thanks to your support in 2022 we were able to provide help to children, youth, and adults in our different programs and ministries:

  • Built 12 homes
  • Built catechism classrooms in our “Beato Agusti Pro” chapel
  • Various constructions in three chapels (walls, roofs, floors)
  • 23 roofs added to homes for poor families
  • 300 tarps to serve as roofs for families
  • 2,500 blankets
  • 1,200 toys
  • 30 elderly residents served dinner every Saturday
  • 2,100 plates of food distributed to homeless immigrants and those in need
  • 118,500 people benefited from food pantries
  • 1,024 patients served during home visits and health days
  • 600 psychology sessions (individual, workshops, talks)
  • 42 cases of legal advisory (50% in immigrant affairs)
  • 150 college scholarships to local young people
  • 31 students with special needs attended parish’s Inclusive Education School
  • 100 students took part in after-school classes (English, folk dance, Taekwondo)
  • 505 participants in SEARCH youth retreats