December 25, 2020 Report from Oblate Youth Ministry in Tijuana.
Christmas blessings, Year anew glad tidings, and Cheers where everyone knows your name.
As we celebrate the birth of our King, we reflect on the how the one Body of the Church has cared for those in need through the workings of so many parts of that Body; those that donate, those that support and sacrifice for those who donate, those who receive and administer those donations, those who pray, celebrate mass, and administer sacraments, those who receive and then share what they receive. We especially are moved by those who braved COVID to continue to minister in so many ways.
We think this Christmas of some special friends who we have written about in previous reports: 88 year old Josefina living over a steep bank suffering from a painful condition; little Natalie with leukemia whose smile out lights even a Christmas tree; twelve year old Emily who passed last year of a complication related to her down syndrome but, whose mini-shrine lights, previously not working, mysteriously alit on her one year passing anniversary; emaciated Luis and Jovana each 20 years old and fighting through TB and associated depression; Hector who still traverses rocky hills to attend church despite having lost a good portion of his vision and whose walk is encumbered; little David who we put through a series of tests only to find his blindness is irreversible; Javier, who despite being 40 years blind has introduced us to others in need in his community; M and M our “ancianos” who in their final years try to earn a few pesos selling nuts on the streets or taking turns pushing an ice cream cart; our friends from the 2018 caravan who have a made a home with us, Ernesto and Romeo; Senor Alberto who suffered a right-side debilitating stroke and who amazingly has learned to walk on that numb leg; Vicki suffering from morbid obesity and her friend Julia, who Vicki rescued from addiction, and who now takes care of Vicki; Vicente, Fermin, and Geraldo who have all had amputations, so common here from diabetes; Maria who gave birth in a taxi after receiving a food basket from us; Gabriel whose cerebral palsy restricts him to a wheelchair, but who was gifted a motorized chair this year; Mauro with his 11 children and Armando with his 6 children, who each lost their wives in the last two years; Nancy who prays for a kidney transplant for her 8 year old boy; and arthritis stricken Hortencia who loves when someone gives her a mini makeover.
We also acknowledge those who have been empowered to attend college through the three-year-old scholarship now benefiting over 200 students in and around our parish; Dylan graduated this year and already is working in nano-technology; Alejandra graduated as a math teacher and aspires to be a special needs math teacher using English; Karla, Isabel, and Erick are now over 3 years into their medical programs to be doctors; Mildred graduated in psychology and now works for the Oblates as a psychologist; Alan, our altar server coordinator, is pursuing a career in physical education; Angelica, while legally blind, is studying to be a physical therapist, and yet finds time to teach braille to two of our clients; Antonio has restarted high school at age 21; Memo, while studying to be an industrial engineer, has overseen our re-roofing program; and Paulina and David (co-author) are nearing their last year of psychology studies (David’s sponsor at age 12 sells lemonade to raise money for his scholarship).
We acknowledge our priests who shepherded us and our sisters who guided us through this pandemic, still managing first communions and confirmations for so many children. Fr. Jesse OMI has worked tirelessly administering the youth program, which had been holding 4 SEARCH retreats a year, with attendees in the hundreds prior to the pandemic. Prior pastor, Fr. Webert, being Haitian, took up the cause of the thousands of Haitians living in Tijuana. Fr. Mark OMI used his chemistry knowledge to manufacture hand sanitizer when we could not buy any, and he works closely with the Sisters to do the RCIA and other programs. Fr. Lucio OMI administered the clinic before it was turned over to the diocese and now administers our special needs school. Fr. Eleazar OMI, our recently ordained priest has been anxious to minister under normal times but has been clearing the path to get a new chapel built to replace the one taken back by the landowners. Fr. Bill OMI and Brother Peter OMI run the Casa Estudiantil where we have 5 young seminarians now doing a form of home-study.
And lastly, we would like to acknowledge all our donors and donations. We hesitate to list them specifically because we would not want to leave any out, no matter how different their donations. However, we will mention them by category: there are the organizations that have made major contributions (clinic services, classrooms, scholarships, roofs, etc.) for so many years; there are sister parishes that have become personal friends to so many; there are home building groups who have collectively built over a thousand homes over the many years of their affiliation with our parish; there are the churches who put on so many special events throughout the year to care for the needs of many and brighten the faces of their children; and lastly there are the individuals who take it upon themselves to either make a financial donation or to load up a vehicle and come and visit.
We also reflect on the times we prayed and held special services as we learned of fires in California, civil unrest in so many US cities, sidelined services due to the pandemic, and even the hotly contested elections. We continue to pray for your well-being, acknowledging that it is through your generosity that we can do what we do, but knowing that you have so many concerns and issues to deal with in your collective and personal lives.
Your friends in the Oblate Mission in Tijuana