By Fr. Jesse Esqueda, OMI
The first week of October, a young couple from Honduras arrived at our parish at 3am. They had traveled for days with their two daughters with the goal of reaching the Oblate parish in Tijuana. They waited outside the gates of the church for a few hours, until a neighbor saw the children crying because they were cold. The neighbor took the family in to their home where they received a warm meal and a place to sleep for a few hours. He then called me to inform me of the situation. That day we were able to provide the family with shelter and food.
Juan, the young man, arrived at our parish for the first time two years ago with the migrant caravan. He stayed with us for over a month where he received food, shelter, psychological help and legal services. He left his country to escape the gang violence. The gangs were trying to recruit him and since he refused to join, his life and the life of his family were at risk. Juan applied for asylum in the U.S. but his case was denied. He was deported back to Honduras, but after a year, he decided to return to Mexico. When Juan left our mission in Tijuana, he was moved to tears because of the love and support that he received from the youth group and other parishioners. The support he received from the Oblate parish, encouraged him to return to Tijuana, where he plans on staying permanently.
Dariela, the young mother, was diagnosed with leukemia a few years ago. She was able to get some treatment and the cancer is now in remission. It was a very dark moment in her life, but now she feels blessed and grateful for having another chance to live and provide for her daughters. Both Juan and Dariela are in the process of obtaining permanent residence status in Mexico.
Like Juan and Dariela, there are many families that come to our Oblate mission seeking help and support. Adriana, our migrant program director, is currently working with 115 families from Central and South America. These families receive food baskets, legal services, phycological and spiritual support. Many of the children of these migrant families are unable to attend school because of their legal status or lack of documents. This is a huge problem that may severely affect the future of these children. We are in the process of developing a program to provide an education for these children.
As Oblates we are called to be bold and to seek new ways to help the poor and most abandoned. As our Oblate constitution states: “wherever we work, our mission is specially to those people whose condition cries out for salvation and for the hope which only Jesus Christ can fully bring. These are the poor with their many faces” (CC5).
We are very grateful for the many people that make our outreach and mission work possible. Your support is changing the lives of these migrant families and many others who are seeking hope and faith. May God bless you abundantly!
Fr. Jesse Esqueda, OMI
Tijuana Mission Superior