Dean Franck is a first year student in the Master's of Divinity Program at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is also a participant of our Digital Disciples Program.
As we continue the Nativity fast and draw near to our loved ones for Christmas; family stories seem to emanate from the warm glow of Christ’s birth.
What seems like days, has been years now, since my little sister left for Mexico. Somewhere around five years ago my sister, an average south Chicago kid just like myself, went to live on “the ranch”, better known as St. Innocent’s Orphanage and Project Mexico, in Rosarito, Mexico. It has been a beautiful experience of God for myself and my family as we continue to watch prosperity blossom forth from a fearless move at a tumultuous time in Mexico’s history (the drug wars and the constant border issues of this decade).
Since my sister’s move to Mexico we have all been blessed to be a close witness of the synergy between man and God in very holy place, St. Innocent’s Orphanage and Project Mexico. At the time, I remembered my recently widowed mother being so very calm in the face of what most secular minds would deem adversity, but her surrender to God’s will has given birth to a great blessing.
In its almost twenty-year history St. Innocent Orphanage continues, “changing lives through the love of Christ. In the early 1900s, with the labor and prayers of many generous volunteers and donors, a 16 acre horse ranch with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean, was renovated and transformed into a home for abandoned and abused adolescent boys (view full content here).”
St. Innocent Orphanage was officially opened to its first orphaned boys in 1996. St. Innocent Orphanage was established with the idea of providing much more than the basic needs offered by other orphanages in Mexico. St. Innocent Orphanage was established to give each child a sense of spiritual worth and direction, a solid education from the public sector with private tutoring, an ample amount of sports and extracurriculars, and a continual sense of home and family.
As a wonderful bonus to the orphanage, since 1988, Project Mexico has taken it upon their organization to coordinate groups who build homes for some of the most impoverished families in northern Mexico. “Built strictly by volunteer labor, these homes provide families economic security and hope for a brighter future. While serving these families, the volunteers discover that they have been transformed. Through their service to others, they realize that they have received much more than they had given. To date, they have hosted well over 11,000 volunteers on their 16 acre ranch as they continue to humbly bear the burdens of others in the name of Christ (view full content here).”
One quotation of literature from the soul of this organization that really sums up their work states, “Project Mexico & St. Innocent Orphanage performs works of mercy and helps others do works of mercy in the name of Jesus Christ, transcending cultural barriers by building homes for the poor in Mexico and by providing a home for orphaned boys through St. Innocent Orphanage. As members of the faithful, they boldly pursue their mission while espousing the following values: acts of mercy, excellence, education, love & compassion, mission work, partnership, and witness (view full content here).”
Over the years that my sister has been in Mexico my mother has continued to watch her child grow under Christ’s guiding hand. However, she herself has also quietly pursued her God-given talent of writing icons. This December, 2015, with the urging and opportunity provided by my sister, my mother went down to hang her first solo Iconography project in the St. Innocent Chapel on the grounds of St. Innocent Orphanage and Project Mexico. The Icon is that of the Last Supper which now hangs over the royal doors. There could not be a more heartfelt Christmas gift, from God to our family.
As we gather to our families this Christmas may we be mindful of those who may not have families and those who may be without a home to gather in. Please visit these links of St. Innocent’s Orphanage and Project Mexico to make a donation or get involved.
For more information on the story of the Last Supper icon in the St. Innocent’s chapel click here.
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