International – Oblate Ministries LA MORITA, MEXICO

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The St. Eugene de Mazenod Mission established in 1997, is located on the eastern edge of Tijuana in the La Morita Colonia. The mission includes an area that houses about 150000 people. Many of them says Fr. Dan are in need of the most basic necessities of life. Hundreds of families are living in “houses” that are made of scrap wood and cardboard and have dirt floors. These families have no running water, nor indoor sanitation facilities. The government does not provide them with electricity. Meals are cooked on propane gas camp stoves. There is no postal service. The roads to and from these “homes” are not paved and more often than naught are ridden with potholes. In giving directions to get to the mission Fr Dan says“ if you find yourself on a paved street you have lost your way.” La Morita Colonia is one of the poorest areas of Tijuana.
A city of 1.2 million better known for its nice beaches and tourist attractions Tijuana is in northwestern Mexico in Baja California State near the Pacific Coast just south of San Diego California across the US/Mexican border. It is an industrial center which experienced a surge in the construction of electronics assembly factories and other light industrial plants known as maquiladoras after the devaluation of the peso and the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)in 1994. NAFTA is a trade pact between Canada Mexico and the United States that calls for the gradual reduction of tariffs and other trade barriers between the three countries. At least 56 new maquiladoras were built in Tijuana in 1995 the year after the NAFTA agreement giving the city a total of nearly 590 of them. The possibility of work saw the population increase by more than 300000 in the past five years. It stands at 1.2 million according to statistics for the year 2000.In some of these factories the men are paid $12 a day less than what their counterparts across the border receive for an hour of labor.
During the four years since the Oblates took up residence in La Morita they have put up a church, a convent, a medical clinic and rectory. The rectory is considered to be a permanent structure the others are all temporary facilities.In addition to the main church there are 7 chapels located in the various neighborhoods of La Morita.