In 1964 Fr Rick Thomas was appointed to El Paso in Texas. Around 1969/1970 he was deeply touched by God and started prayer meetings in the parish. Sr Maria Virginia, was also assisting in the parish.
During a prayer meeting in 1972, they read the passage in Luke 14 which says, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relations or rich neighbours, in case they invite you back and so repay you. Now when you have a party, invite the poor7 for they have no means to repay you and so you will be repaid when the upright rise again.”
The prayer meeting decided that on Christmas Day that year, 1972, they would give a Christmas lunch to the poor who lived and worked in the dump in Juarez, just across the border in Mexico. The poor people in the dump used to separate the trash into various kinds, cans, bottles, cardboard etc and then sell it to a co-op which would in turn sell it on. They lived in the dump and worked 7 days a week for $5.
The prayer group prepared food for 125 people on Christmas Day, but when they got to the dump Fr Rick and the group discovered that 350 people turned up! Fr Rick explained that there was not enough food for everyone but they would share what they had. All 350 had enough food7 The dump people took some food home – and then came back to take more home. They returned and took more home again. There was still lots of food left over, so much that Fr Rick and the prayer group took the leftover food to three orphanages.
The miracle of the loaves and fishes was repeated in the dump in Juarez, Mexico in 1972. On another occasion they didn’t have enough cartons of milk for everyone, but when they came to the end of handing out cartons, everyone had a carton of milk. After the miracle on Christmas Day 1972 a beautiful Christian community grew up in the dump and many wonderful events have taken place since then.
Fr Matthew – See “Miracles in El Paso” by Rene Laurentin, 1982.