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The Oblate Mission in Tijuana Shifts Parish Boundaries

Oblate Mission in Tijuana Shifts Parish Boundaries

Article Provided by Rich Reader

You may have heard this shift of boundaries was coming.  It has officially happened with the installation of the new diocese pastor at San Eugenio Parish, and the installation of Fr. Webert as the Pastor of the newly-defined Oblate parish.  The new parish name is Mary Immaculate (María Inmaculada).  A grand celebration was held when the Oblates conducted the last Mass to be performed at the San Eugenio as an Oblate parish.  There were several hundred people in attendance at both events and there were well-wishes, group photos and tearful exchanges of gratitude.

The new Oblate parish center is at the site of San Enrique, where the youth center has operated for some time.  So it will no longer be called San Enrique and is now María Inmaculada.  For a period of time, the parish center and youth center will coexist.

The new Pastor for San Eugenio, Fr. Escobar, could not be more congenial as the Oblates hasten to move out of the San Eugenio site and into their new Oblate house; however, the house is not complete and it may be about another month or two before it is ready to occupy.  In the meantime, the sisters at Divino Niño, a few miles away in the new parish boundaries, are helping with accommodations.

The functions that operated from the San Eugenio Parish center will also transfer to the new pastor and diocese oversight.  The Bishop was able to arrange for three religious sisters to relocate to assist with the continuance of the clinic.  The parish office functions for the Oblates will transfer to the Maria Inmaculada site.

Father Bill reviewed the list of priests and some of the history of the start of the Oblate mission some 23 years ago, with the arrival of Fr. Callaghan in his modest tow-behind travel trailer.  As names of the San Eugenio priests were read, cheers would erupt in fond honor of those who have served here.  There were some in attendance who even joined with Fr. Callaghan in forming the new mission.  Two of the priests who previously served were able to join the celebration; Fr. Tom Rush and Fr. Antonio Ponce.

All of this was precipitated by the fact that over the 23 years, the mission area has expanded greatly, eventually totaling 14 mission churches (chapels).  The western end of the parish is the more developed, as infrastructure facilities grow from central Tijuana out.  The four chapels in this western side are now more able to support a diocese model for a parish.  The Oblates will now be able to focus on the remaining nine mission churches (chapels) and the growth in these areas.

All of this was precipitated by the fact that over the 23 years, the mission area has expanded greatly, eventually totaling 14 mission churches (chapels).  The western end of the parish is the more developed, as infrastructure facilities grow from central Tijuana out.  The four chapels in this western side are now more able to support a diocese model for a parish.  The Oblates will now be able to focus on the remaining nine mission churches (chapels) and the growth in these areas.

Considerations for the future of the new parish include a clinic, a youth center, special education facility and other things.  But for today, the focus is on completing the new Oblate house at the site of the Padre Pio Chapel and revamping the Maria Inmaculada site for parish offices, parish events, youth events and all the other related activities.

One can easily see the parallels to the scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life” where Jimmy Stewart’s character is given a chance to see what the town would be like had he not been there providing opportunities for those seeking their first chance for a house.  The town would have degraded into a place of gambling, drinking, immorality and oppression, with so many individuals becoming pulled down into a more depraved and deprived live.  And so it is with the Oblate mission.  This area that could so easily have turned so bad now has a vibrant parish with thousands of lives impacted.  Each chapel runs a social ministry program, where a few people team up to help the most needy in their area.  The parish has operated a clinic for years, offering medical, dental and psychiatric services at very low costs.  The Catechesis program is a delight to observe on Saturdays as kids and parents gather happily and eventually celebrate baptisms, first communions and confirmations.  So many of those that went through the program are now the teachers and leaders.  The Holy Day celebrations are highly festive with flowers and praise music, after-Mass fiestas and often a before-Mass procession through the streets.  The youth center has become such a home for hundreds of teens and young adults.  They host US groups, provide SEARCH retreats, offer English and Taekwondo classes, operate a focused-on-medically-handicapped social ministry, extend psychology services, build roofs, conduct health fairs and administrate an amazing scholarship opportunity.  The youth SEARCH retreats were so popular, the adults involved requested SEARCH for adults, which now happens twice a year.  The youth do much of the heavy lifting for the parish when it comes to event setups and planning, building and maintaining facilities.

Of course, all of this is made possible by so many donors.  There are donors to the Oblate worldwide mission, groups that focus just on Tijuana, groups that focus on house building, others on scholarships and education, some on providing food and supplies for the poor, others medical services and some that make large contributions to enable the construction projects.  The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, especially those in Tijuana, extend prayers and gratitude to all who have supported the mission and to all the local people who have helped to form and operate the mission.

If you would like to support Oblate missionaries like those in Tijuana, click here.