In our recent transitus letter, the Casa Franciscana Mission bid vaya con Dios (go with God) to Father Tommy King who served in Guaymas for four years.
He started his time there by conducting a needs survey of over 400 households in the barrios around the Mission. Over and over he heard about the need for a youth center for ages 12 to 18. The school dropout rate was high; drugs were a constant battle and idleness was common. As a result, private funds were raised to open the Denise Nagel Youth Center in the impoverished neighborhood of Fatima. It was an instant success; filled with enthusiastic teenagers every day. The youth learned computer skills, received help with homework, participated in support groups which included anti-drug messages, and more.
Staff development was also important to Fr. T. He initiated training to help the staff grow professionally, personally and spiritually. All the programs thrived under his leadership (and, of course, help from you and the Holy Spirit).
Then COVID-19 hit forcing the closedown of the dining rooms, the medical/dental clinic, the youth center, the migrant shelter and the monthly food box distribution. Fr. Tommy and his staff devised ways to prepare “to go” boxes that they distributed daily outside the main dining room. He managed to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and to enforce what in Mexico is called ‘healthy distancing amongst the crowd.’ The local police monitored the compliance daily! With teamwork, a new system for distributing the monthly food boxes was developed.
At the same time, he provided love and comfort as people lost family members to the pandemic. Fr. Tommy has been described as the perfect combination of spirituality and humor – both are valuable assets in a crisis.
The Board of Directors of the CFO, the staff at the Mission and many of our donors thank Fr. Tommy for his service and dedication, following in the footstep of St. Francis. We wish him God’s speed as he continues his journey in Honduras. We love you, Fr. T!!