So what exactly does it mean to be a “chapel and outreach ministry?”
Imagine a standard non-profit ministry to the vulnerable which also has a vibrant Christian life of eucharistic worship, daily prayer, and other pastoral services.
What does it look like day to day?
• We provide health care to the poor and to detained asylum seekers
• We offer pastoral and sacramental ministry to asylum seekers, the poor, and to those serving them on both sides of the border
• We are developing a refugee resettlement initiative
• We partner with various ministries (currently 3 – see below) on both sides of the border which serve immigrants, the poor, and the deaf.
La Posada Providencia
La Posada serves as a transition shelter for immigrants and asylees after they have been processed through U.S. Customs. It is run by the Sisters of Divine Providence.
Our work with La Posada is quite varied. Michael goes weekly to serve the Sisters in whatever capacity they need. Often the work is simply a list of odd jobs on the property but often includes many other things such as driving clients to the doctor, to the bus station, or to the immigration lawyer’s office, teaching ESL, hearing confessions, pastoral counseling, digging holes for a new building, machinery repair, and client advocacy.
Erica provides healthcare for the clients at La Posada and often she will lead the children staying there in a fun craft project and outdoor play time (otherwise the kids stay pretty much in their rooms while at the shelter).
Culture of Life
In 2013, Dr. Stephen Robinson noticed while working at his private practice in Raymondville, TX that the Affordable Care Act failed to provide legitimate health care for the poorest of the poor (of which the Rio Grande Valley is full). So he literally hung up a sign on a Church building in Harlingen offering free medical care.
Now, there are over 50 volunteers and thousands of patients who consider Culture of Life their primary healthcare provider. Erica works with Dr. Robinson one half-day a week. She is their first regularly scheduled, licensed physician besides Dr. Robinson. Much of her work is focused on health education and care of chronic illness. She is also a primary doctor for the women asylum seekers at the Port Isabel Detention center. Often, she is called to evaluate female genital mutilation to help these women in their cases for asylum.
Michael leads the weekly healing and anointing service at the primary clinic location every Thursday. Additionally, he regularly meets with Dr. Robinson and some of the volunteers to help them figure out how to do what they want to do in a way that is both financially sustainable and holistically good for the poor community.
Every Friday, Michael travels to Reynosa, Mexico to lead the Isaiah 55 team in a communion service. It’s pretty incredible because the Isaiah 55 mission is located about 100 yards from the walls of Boys Town which is an area where “anything goes” (prostitution, drugs, you name it). We built a chapel there at the mission and every day of the week we gather to pray for Isaiah 55’s work with the deaf, for the women and children living in Boys Town, for all those in the sex industry, and for all who visit there.