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Foreign Mission Outreach

History of the Parish Foreign Outreach

In 1988 a young woman from Tijuana visited the Prayer Group at Our Lady of Refuge Parish. Her name was Antonia Martinez Meza. She had come to Long Beach at the request of the Missionaries of Charity in Tijuana, Mexico. At the conclusion of the Prayer Group meeting, Antonia talked about the poor of Tijuana. She spoke of the Missionaries of Charity and their orphanage in Colonia Florída and her own work as a lay missionary in the squatter community of Colonia Lomas Taurinas.

 

That evening marked the birth of Foreign Mission Outreach. A number of persons decided to go to Tijuana and visit the places described by Antonia. The first trips were marked by surprise and wonderment as parishioners left the familiar sites of the United States and the tourist area of Tijuana. They drove their cars to unfamiliar neighborhoods where the poor live - down rough dirt roads where makeshift shacks perch precariously on steep hillsides. They joined their Mexican friends for Masses in shacks or outdoors under trees. Most had never seen poverty such as this.

 

And so it has been for the past seventeen years. Parishioners continue taking food, clothes, furniture and badly needed donations to help the needy of Tijuana. Our parish has donated vestments, sacred vessels, candelabras and tabernacle for two churches. Men from the Young Adult group put a roof on Antonia's house and helped in countless other ways. It has become an annual custom at Our Lady of Refuge to help the children of Tijuana each year at Christmas through the Giving Tree Project

 

As Colonia Lomas Taurinas got paved roads, a sewer, water and phone system and a new church, Antonia guided her friends from Our Lady of Refuge to new ventures. For example, parishioners now assist the people in a second Colonia (Colonia Cumbres) with food, gifts and help in building of still another church. For several years Our Lady of Refuge parishioners hosted young adult catechists from Tijuana who came to the Religious Education Conference in Anaheim. During the summer months a number of Mexican seminarians have come to Long Beach, doing gardening, painting, cleaning, etc. at homes of parishioners - all to help them earn money to cover expenses for their studies.

 

The bonds of friendship between Our Lady of Refuge and the people of Tijuana has grown over the years and hopefully will continue to grow in the years to come.

 

Foreigin Mission Outreach Projects