Looking for the True Meaning of Christmas



It is 6:00 p.m. in Guaymas and the van is packed with children, mothers, the Mission social worker, the driver, backpacks, wheelchairs, crutches and walkers.  Fr. Tommy is blessing the travelers as they begin the night long journey to Phoenix, AZ.     If all goes well at the border, they will arrive by 7:00 a.m. for the Shriners International clinic.  After receiving specialized medical services, the next stop is the Franciscan Renewal Center (FRC) where a host family will pick up each mother and child and house them for the night.  At 6:00 a.m. the following morning, sleepily, they  begin the journey back to Guaymas .   These children are only a few of the hundreds that, for over 30 years, have been treated for orthopedics, burns and heart issues through Shriners’ International.

None of this would happen without the Casa Franciscana Mission where the children are screened, visas arranged, appointments made and the mechanics and expenses of the trip carried out.  Also, we cannot give enough praise and thanks to the volunteers at the FRC who coordinate the housing and the people that welcome our families.  Here is feedback from one:

It was with some concern about language difficulties that Cathy and I volunteered to host a mother and child from the Casa Franciscana Mission.  Our guests didn’t speak any English and we didn’t speak any Spanish.  However, the spirit of Franciscanism engulfed our home every hour they were there.  There wasn’t one moment of discomfort..  Sign language worked perfectly and we quickly learned that “ice cream” is a universal language.  Our poodle, Molly, was the perfect ice breaker with 12-year old Graciela.  Her leg-braces didn’t stop her from chasing Molly around the yard.  It was magical.   The entire experience was so rewarding.  We received much more than we gave.  No home is to small – or too big – to host members of our Franciscan family from Guaymas.  Kathy and Doug Olesen

You need not look further for the meaning of Christmas.   What awesome birthday gifts for the Baby Jesus would be a monthly donation in the name of a loved one to help the Mission to bring these youngsters for specialized medical care!  And the gift of “room in the inn” if you live in the Phoenix area!  And the gift of prayer for the children, their families, the Mission staff and the healthcare providers that serve them.  Be part of this effort that changes lives.                                                                 



  1. Marilyn Astore (one of Father Tommy's sisters) on November 29, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    What an inspiring story! Thank you for reminding us what this holy season is really about!

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